Phillip Cavanaugh and his creative writing partner Claire Simmons are shocked when Phillip's best friend and ex-lover, Gilbert Selwyn, invites them to Los Angeles, tempting them with an offer of a profitable writing job. Living hand to mouth in New York, Philip is terrified of being caught in a pattern of the "struggling old playwright," while Claire is forced to earn a living scraping by as a rehearsal pianist, flogging her songs in grimy little cabarets, both of them toiling fruitlessly away in their squalid apartments.
Philip and Claire decide to take Gilbert up on his offer because, let's face it: the alternative is probably a life of obscurity, and the lure of fame, the hope of financial gain, the lucrative writing contracts, is just to tempting to refuse. But the problem is that Gilbert has a complete lack of talent, nonexistent scruples, a tenuous grasp on reality, and an "almost supernatural rottenness of luck." So when their friend confesses to them he has had to "fudge a few things," their worst fears are realized.
Gilbert, claiming that he's rushed off a brilliant World War II spec script based
on the novel A Song For Greta, has actually plagiarized the story of Casablanca and is attempting to pass it off as an original screenplay to mega-action producer Bobby Spellman. Bobby, whose mantra is "I like you at the moment but reserve the right to crush you," has no knowledge of the classics and
is unaware of Gilbert's scheming. In fact, he's so impressed with the script he thinks it
is a perfect starring vehicle for action star and Hollywood heartthrob Stephen Donato and his actress mother, the ruthless Diana Malenfant.
Meanwhile, Diana's washed-up actress sister, Lily, is threatening to write her memoirs, exposing her sister for who she really is: a vituperative two-bit
hack actress who slept her way to the top. She is also threatening to expose the gorgeous Stephen's homosexuality. Married to Gina – also one of Hollywood's most bankable stars – Stephen, "who is not actually in a closet but in a goddamn bunker," can ill-afford to be outed, especially with the Oscar nominations fast approaching.
In this Hollywood, industry players can be friends at one moment and dread enemies the next, the
actors and their publicists having difficulty separating their art from their lives. Philip indeed gets caught up in the machinations of "the biz," aware of its fickleness yet carried away by
the social whirl of the industry, displaying a breezy self-satisfaction endemic
to young Hollywood Turks who find their stars on the rise and cannot conceive of
their descent. It doesn't help that he has developed a terrible crush on Stephen.
Author Joe Keenan cleverly lampoons the industry, using his experience as a network sitcom writer to pepper his novel with contrived situations, clichéd but lovable characters, and incidences that almost defy logic. There's a fading actress - "a full blown sociopath, full of brazen deceptions and lighthearted treacheries" - who runs a day spa masquerading as a brothel where A-list actors stealthily sample male prostitutes; an overly zealous, crazed publicist who, while making contingency plans and "fortifying her
Rolodex," will stop at nothing to protect her famous clients from scandal and blackmail; and an easygoing brother secretly bedding hustlers in the outhouse while his glamorous movie star sister blithely dictates her tawdry memoirs.
In true Hollywood fashion, My Lucky Star contains enough scandal to occupy five novels.
Blackmail, clandestine sex videos, illegal brothels, and strained melodramas abound, the author maneuvering through the smoke and mirrors of the Hollywood elite, skewering the town's richest in their fanatical zest for artistic and monetary acquisition. Although the jokes tend to wear thin - and nothing about the novel feels remotely realistic - Keenan's light, polished style and his
manner of humanizing even the most bizarre incidences make My Lucky Star a fun read, a witty, self-deprecatory adventure into the world of celebrity, fame, and staccato self-importance.