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It’s not always sunny in Hollywood

by Amy Simon

I was sitting in Jerry’s Deli the other day perusing People (my guilty pleasure). I was reading about Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman getting back together . . . yay . . . and I look up to see Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman! They were in the next booth and had just finished a meal! Freaky I thought. Then Mr. DeVito saw me staring and came right over with a big smile and outstretched hand; “How you doin’?” he asked. I took his hand and said; “Fine. I’m a big fan . . . ” and he smiled and sauntered away.

They reminded me of any ordinary couple. And in many ways they are an ordinary couple who just happen to be two massively talented, lucky and successful working comic actors . . . celebrities in the limelight . . . trying to save their marriage.

Marriage is so hard. All by itself it is hard. Throw in parenthood and then you really find out what you’re made of. Throw in two full time working parents and it’s major juggling. Throw in Hollywood and your chances of maintaining a successful long-lasting marriage are exponentially reduced!

In another words, you’re screwed. I was part of a Hollywood couple, sort of. We weren’t famous, but we lived in Hollywood and both worked in “the industry”. And we didn’t make it.

Like so many of us, I grew up with Danny and and Rhea on Taxi and Cheers. They seem so familiar, like we’ve been friends for years, which made hearing of their split so upsetting. And thanks to our obsession with celebrities and easy access into their lives, it’s so easy to feel like we actually know them. It’s always heartening to hear about any couple trying to work it out and always so disheartening to hear when they don’t. I’m still hoping to hear that Amy Poehler and Will Arnett are gonna give it another try. The online gossip machine says they might.

My heart breaks for them and their two little boys. As a divorced mother, I know what’s ahead. And as the late, great Nora Ephron said, “No one knows what’s going on in a marriage, not even the people in it!” She knew. She turned her heartbreaking divorce into a bestseller and the movie Heartburn, starring Meryl Streep as Nora with Jack Nicholson playing her real life husband Carl Bernstein of Watergate fame. Great film.

I adore Amy Poehler (and not just ‘cause we share the same name). I adore her because, like me, she too comes from the theater and improv world. And not just because she and Tina rocked it out of the park when they hosted the Golden Globes! Tawk about setting the bar!

I adore her because her amazing hilarious and superbly touching performance in Baby Mama (with the always amazing Tina Fey) bonded my two daughters and I at a time when we were going through our own family hell with a divorce. We would watch it and her and forget our troubles for awhile and laugh, and laugh, and cry a little too.

I adore her because watching her in 2008, pregnant as a house on SNL performing a brilliant rap written by Seth Meyers for guest Sarah Palin (who declined to perform it), I knew how much breath it takes to rap, and I knew how little breath she had with that big belly full of baby taking up all the breathing room. And she rapped it right out of the park! (Click here to watch)

And I adore her because I read in Tina Fey’s uber fab Bossy Pants how Amy responded: “I don’t fucking care if you like it” when, as a new girl cast member, she made an unladylike joke and Jimmy Fallon told her he didn’t like it. (And Tina makes a point in her book that Fallon and Poehler are great friends.)

I adore her because she has balls. And because of the way she plays, with so much heart, fictional character Leslie Knopes, Deputy Parks Director of fictional Pawnee (any small-Midwestern town), a mid-level government worker, a bureaucrat, on the fabulously funny TV show Parks and Recreation. It is ironic though, that Leslie Knopes just got married (to Adam Scott’s Ben Wyatt) and Will Arnett just signed to play a “recently divorced man” in a new CBS comedy.

I love Leslie Knopes because I want to believe that she is real. Living in Los Angeles and working in the “biz” has taught me how money and power corrupt, how good intentions are overpowered by all that attention and adoration, and how the seduction of celebrity changes good people. But Leslie Knopes is good, pure, loves her town and her country and I love her patriotism, good citizenship and the brilliant writers that created her. She is a true friend and a leader with morals, ethics and integrity. And so much heart. She is the role model so often missing from my daughters’ world.

So I think about Amy & Will and Danny & Rhea, these familiar funny talented strangers and I feel sad. Despite their celebrity, their private lives are none of my damned business and yet, I so hope they make it through whatever is ahead with kindness, integrity, dignity and a big dash of Leslie Knopes.

Amy Simon

About Amy Simon

Amy Simon is a writer/performer, mother, humanist, questioner, and new empty nester who loves to read, dance, cook, talk on the phone, play on the beach and see theater, in that order. Find her at sheshistory.com and on Twitter @ShesHistoryAmy

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