Desperate and Cruised wives

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  • Published 7.11.05

London, Nov. 7: The botoxed, air-kissing ladies whose husbands control Hollywood must be among the most desperate of America’s housewives.

Just ask screenwriter Gigi Levangie Grazer, who rubs shoulders with them every day and whose new novel ? The Starter Wife ? wickedly satirises these ultra-rich fortysomethings as they struggle to keep their breasts from sagging and their spouses from straying.

“A Starter Wife,” she explains, “lives in fear of being dumped for the bright young Trophy Wife ? who may be more agreeable to the husband but who will take it out on everyone else.”

And both types dread being, as Gigi puts it, “Cruised” ? a reference to the way that Tom allegedly divorced Nicole Kidman just before their 10-year anniversary, after which, under Californian law, the wife is entitled to financial support for the rest of her life.

Lunching with Gigi at a Santa Monica cafe, I get the impression that every Hollywood “Wife Of” ? to use her shorthand phrase for the brides of stars and moguls ? sticks pins in a Tom Cruise doll to ward off the curse he represents. To them, marriage is as much a big business enterprise as a love affair, and Cruise’s ways are bad for business.

She knows perfectly why women fall for men like him in the first place. “Who wouldn’t love Tom Cruise, showing up with a roomful of Armani? Not now, not for me ? not at 42 ? but at 25? It’s a done deal. You still believe in fairy tales at that age. Now, it’s too much trouble. I’d have a headache.”

The problem of getting “Cruised” is one I suspect that Gigi takes very seriously, having married a movie mogul herself only seven years ago.

She is the second wife of Brian Grazer, who is 10 years her senior and the Academy award-winning producer of A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13 and the forthcoming screen version of The Da Vinci Code.

Her marriage is great, she insists, and glosses over any questions about it by heaping praise on her husband and tossing off half-serious remarks about her own inability to be the perfect “Wife Of”.

“I guess I used to be the Trophy Wife,” she says, coyly. “I should coin a phrase for what I am now.” She pauses briefly, a mischievous gleam in her eye. “Maybe a pain-in-the-ass wife is what I am now.”

Self-deprecating is her usual style of humour. When told that Paris Hilton is a big admirer of her novel, she fires back with a deadpan: “Who read it to her?”

It’s certainly not easy to classify Gigi. On the one hand, she lives almost exactly the kind of life that she loves to ridicule ? wearing the latest designer clothes and throwing lavish parties at her four-acre “cliffside compound” in Los Angeles.

The house has 14 bathrooms and is so large that she says, “we don’t even see two thirds of it”.

On the other hand, she is the daughter of a Bulgarian mother and Irish father whose means were so modest that she shared a bedroom with her three sisters until she was 12, then was married to a black musician and lived with him for three years in a rough neighbourhood “with four dogs and a shotgun”.