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Gilding the Lily

Gilding the Lily

Randy Quaid has been lied to. Randy Quaid has been cheated out of what is rightfully his. Randy Quaid deserves reparation. Randy Quaid is taking out the garbage. The bulbous-featured actor, who made his splashy debut opposite Jack Nicholson in The Last Detail and then went on to be known as alternately, Eddie Griswold (whose teenage daughter, while perched on a see-saw, remarks on her French-kissing skills: “Daddy says I’m the best at it”) and “the ugly Quaid brother,” is suing Focus Features for ten million because of “willful misrepresentation” regarding the bromance Brokeback Mountain, in which he portrays the superfluous supporting role of the head sheepherder. Apparently, he was lied to by the diabolical Ang Lee and the devilish James Schamus, who thought, maybe, just maybe, an epic romance starring two male cowboys who fall in love, might not crack it as an American blockbuster. Now that it’s an almost-Best-Picture–winning phenomenon, Brokeback is provoking his ire, and allegedly, most crucially, that of his Lady Macbeth–ish wife. (They probably can only fit one in-ground pool in their backyard at this point.)

I don’t know what sort of reduced rates Quaid was forced to take, and I know that Focus Features has a history of inducing gay-panic in the Quaid clan (see Dennis’s post-Far from Heaven press junkets: “Oh my God, kissing a man was so hard, but I steeled myself and thought of a naked woman…”), but Randy, honestly…can you say “career suicide”? Now I’ve never been a fan of greedy actors, but I have always been a supporter of the “Quaids-meister”…so many indelible moments: “Shitter was full!” (pouring his RV’s septic tank into the sewer in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation); “That’s right…the Jews were responsible!” (lowering his eyes and bearing his teeth as anti-Semitic high school history teacher Pete Suvak in the unforgettable 1988 TV movie Evil in Clear River); “Here I come, you alien assholes!” (Independence Day).

I bring up Quaid’s career in an effort to convince him cease and desist and not deprive us of another half-century’s work of slightly maladjusted podunk character roles. With the lines between what is “indie” and “big-studio” ever dissolving, pay cuts would seem to be de rigeur…ask all those Crash nitwits who bravely “worked for scale” to realize Paul Haggis’s brave vision. Take it down a few notches, buddy. Or maybe you can just break into Heath and Michelle’s swanky Cobble Hill pad and crack into the safe, bursting with Brokeback residuals. But perhaps you’ll be too busy, as your lawsuit states, “working at reduced rates in ‘experimental, non-mainstream’ movies for the sake of art.” Which were those experimental Randy Quaid art films? The Adventures of Pluto Nash, The Paper, or Hard Rain? I guess Vegas Vacation could count as sort of avant-garde….

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