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The fame game, p.1
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       The Fame Game, p.1

           Lauren Conrad
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The Fame Game


  The Fame Game


  To Adam DiVello, who plucked me from obscurity and gave me a career I never could have imagined. Thank you for every opportunity you gave me and for gifting me with the best video diary anyone could ever want.



  Title Page


  Letter to Madison

  From the Desk of Madison Parker

  Chapter 1 - A Step Forward

  Chapter 2 - A Good Sign

  Chapter 3 - Eyes Wide Open

  Chapter 4 - Hardly Star Treatment

  Chapter 5 - Your Rock ’n’ Roll Side

  Chapter 6 - Making Nice

  Chapter 7 - Basically a Native

  Chapter 8 - Struggle. Drama. Meltdowns.

  Chapter 9 - People Like Us Do Not Wait in Lines

  Chapter 10 - More Than Just a Story Arc

  Chapter 11 - All Grown Up

  Chapter 12 - Carmen Cupid Curtis

  Chapter 13 - A Little Old for Stuffed Animals

  Chapter 14 - The Best Idea You Ever Had

  Chapter 15 - That Was Awkward

  Chapter 16 - Walk with Me

  Chapter 17 - The TV-Ready Next Big Thing

  Chapter 18 - Sparks

  Chapter 19 - Think Beautiful Thoughts

  Chapter 20 - Secret Lovers

  Chapter 21 - Little Miss Hollywood

  Chapter 22 - Bad Romance

  Chapter 23 - Keep Tabs on Your Costars

  Chapter 24 - Talk About The End of Love

  Chapter 25 - Everyone Wants to Be Famous

  Chapter 26 - The Good Ol’ Days

  Chapter 27 - Good Times, Good Times

  Chapter 28 - Part of a Larger Plan

  Chapter 29 - Lucky Girl

  Chapter 30 - How This Hollywood Stuff Works

  Chapter 31 - The Best of Friends

  Chapter 32 - The Birth of a Star

  Chapter 33 - Empty

  Chapter 34 - So Damn Catchy

  Chapter 35 - Nobody Loses


  About the Author

  Books by Lauren Conrad

  Back Ads



  About the Publisher

  Letter to Madison

  Dear Madison,

  You must hear this all the time, but I’m your biggest fan. I’ve watched every episode of Madison’s Makeovers ten times. I didn’t think you’d ever convince Tanya to cut that hair and get her teeth done, but you did—and she looked amazing! And you were so right about that girl from Idaho: Nobody looks good in a knee-length jean skirt and athletic shoes, especially not someone with cankles—ha ha.

  You were my fave on L.A. Candy. I mean, you are who you are and you proved that! Especially when your past came out. Jane sort of became the star of the show, but it should’ve been you. Girls like Jane get everything handed to them, and how is that fair?

  Have you talked to Sophia? Obvs she’s your little sister and you love her, but can I just say how ungrateful she was? She was so wrong to out you the way she did. I know you love your fans and you would have told us everything when you were ready.

  It is so amazing what you’ve done for yourself. You didn’t have anything growing up, and now you have it all!! You had a dream and you went for it. Seeing someone like you, who made everything happen through hard work and courage and just rocking every opportunity that you got, makes me feel like it might be possible for me. You know? You really have been an inspiration to me. So thank you and I love you. Seriously, you are my idol!

  My best friend, Emma, said she heard that you’re going to star in a new show for PopTV. Is it true? I hope so!!! Please write me back and please send an autographed picture!

  Love you!!!!!

  Xoxoxo Becca B.

  From the Desk of Madison Parker

  Dear Becca,

  Thanks so much for your letter. Without you and my millions of other fans, I wouldn’t enjoy my amazing life. And thank you for watching Madison’s Makeovers! I really feel like I am giving back with each makeover I do. Every girl deserves a little beauty, don’t you think?

  No one expects their sister to betray them (especially not on national TV), but Sophie was in a very dark place. I am just so lucky that I was able to pay for her rehab and that she and I have each other. Thank you for loving me through all the pain and for understanding why I kept my past a secret.

  As for a new show, I’m not supposed to say anything, but since you are one of my biggest fans . . . Yes, there is a new show in the works, and yes, of course, I am the star.

  I hope you like the photo I’ve included. I think it’s one of my best. And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @MissMadParker.



  PS: Don’t ever give up on your dreams, and don’t ever expect anything to be handed to you. I know I didn’t—and look at me now!

  Chapter 1

  A Step Forward

  Madison Parker had made Trevor Lord come to her this time. If he wanted her for his new show as badly as he said he did, what was a little Sunset Boulevard traffic between friends? Anyway, he’d just added another sleek new sports car to his collection—he might as well put it to use.

  “The Fame Game needs you, Madison.” Trevor leaned forward in his chair, his eyes intent on her perfectly made-up face. “PopTV wants another hit show. And you and I know how to make that happen.” His voice was low, almost conspiratorial.

  Madison took a sip of her coconut water. She’d already told her agent, Nick, she was going to say yes—the network had met her financial demands (only slightly begrudgingly), and a new TV show meant more magazine coverage and better endorsement deals—but she wanted to make Trevor work for it. He didn’t know that Madison’s Makeovers wasn’t getting picked up for a second season—no one did yet—and she wasn’t about to tell him. After all, the ratings had been totally decent by PopTV standards. Why else would Trevor Lord, the executive producer of L.A. Candy, and his cohort (aka minion) Dana be here at Soho House (which Madison had picked for its proximity to her apartment and its to-die-for seared-ahi salad, and because she liked to exercise her membership privileges as much as possible) to lure her away from it? Besides, this way she could have her publicist leak a story from “a source close to her” saying that Madison, not the network, had decided to end Madison’s Makeovers so she could film The Fame Game.

  Trevor ignored the hovering waiter, who was trying to decide whether or not to refill the producer’s coffee cup. “Madison’s Makeovers is a great show, but it’s not about you. Aren’t you tired of telling people to get a haircut and lose twenty pounds? I mean, Self magazine tells them to do that every month.” Trevor finally glanced up at the waiter, but only to shoo him away. “Your talents are being wasted, Madison,” he said.

  Madison raised a carefully plucked eyebrow. “Wow, Trev, you really know how to charm a girl.”

  He offered the barest hint of a smile. “You know what I mean.”

  Madison turned to Dana, who was, as usual, emanating super-stress vibes. Bluish bags sat below her eyes and her hair looked drier than a pile of autumn leaves. Talk about someone who could use a Madison makeover! She was such a contrast to Trevor, who always appeared effortlessly poised and polished, as if someone had taken a buffer cloth to him. Dana didn’t smile at her, and Madison swiveled back toward Trevor. “I don’t think I do know what you mean,” she said. “Why don’t you spell it out for me?” This was the best part of the process. Being wooed. And if anyone knew how to make a girl feel like the most spectacular thing that ever walked this planet it was Trevor. Unfortunately he could take it away just as quickly. So Madison was going to draw
this moment out. Savor it.

  “You crave drama. You love to be the center of attention. You want all eyes on you, Madison Parker.” He sat back and folded his arms across his broad chest.

  Madison sniffed, unimpressed. Trevor couldn’t come up with anything better than stating the obvious and then acting as if he’d made some brilliant discovery? He thought he was so slick!

  Admittedly, during the filming of L.A. Candy, Madison had needed Trevor. He was the one who had the power: He chose the story lines; he decided who got the most airtime. But now? Trevor needed her. Madison knew from Nick that without her, PopTV wouldn’t green-light The Fame Game.

  Madison gazed off toward the far side of the restaurant, as if contemplating the view (the Pacific Design Center, the primary-colored structures standing out amid the surrounding white buildings and green trees), and then snapped her blue eyes back to Trevor. “I’m the star?”

  “Always,” Trevor said with a smile. “Your fans want to see you.”

  Madison couldn’t suppress a small return smile. Of course her fans wanted to see her. For two seasons of L.A. Candy, Madison had shared her life, her ambitions, and even her painful, once-secret past with them. At first Madison had been furious—like, almost homicidally so—at her sister for revealing the trailer-park roots that she’d worked so hard to hide. But once the tabloid storm blew over, she realized that her hardscrabble past had only made her more popular. More relatable. She hadn’t exactly forgiven Sophie (or Sophia, as she now insisted on being called), but she no longer wanted to cut off her air supply at first glance.

  “It’ll be similar to L.A. Candy,” Trevor went on. “You and some other girls.”

  He said this as if it hardly mattered, but immediately Madison stiffened. “What other girls?” she said coolly.

  She understood that this was how these shows worked—the producers got together a group of supposed friends, or a crazy, dysfunctional family, or a bunch of outrageous coworkers at a quirky salon/construction site/tattoo parlor—but she had no interest in sharing the spotlight. She’d done that in L.A. Candy. She’d put in her time, and now it was time for Madison Parker to take center stage. It was her turn to shine.

  Trevor shrugged noncommittally. “PopTV likes the format of four girls on the verge of making it.”

  “Oh, Trev,” Madison sighed, as if speaking to a child who couldn’t possibly understand. “I’ve already made it. I’m no longer on the verge.”

  Trevor and Dana shared a look Madison couldn’t decipher, and she felt an unpleasant jolt of anxiety. Maybe they did know about Madison’s Makeovers after all. Although she hated to admit it, Madison knew that Trevor was right: She hadn’t made it, not yet. Every time she took a step forward, something was there to knock her right back. How was she supposed to know that that innocent-seeming girl from Walnut Creek was allergic to Botox? (But not at all allergic to lawsuits? And that if someone sued the show, they were suing Madison’s production company, too?) And how was she supposed to know that the trainer the show had hired was married? He never wore a ring, and he certainly didn’t mention his wife when he was hooking up with Madison in an airplane bathroom. The network had managed to keep these things quiet so far, but various uptight executives had apparently decided that they couldn’t afford for the show to go on.

  “Oh, you’re on the verge all right,” Trevor said. “The verge of hitting the next level.”

  Nice save, Madison thought. “And the other three girls?” she asked. “Who are they?”

  “Gaby.” Trevor touched his pointer fingers together, ticking off a list. “Plus two others, obviously. We’re still working on casting them.”

  Madison nodded. Gaby made sense. She was far from the brightest candle on the cake (and that was putting it nicely), but she was good for a laugh at least. She was the only other person left standing from L.A. Candy, after Scarlett split for Columbia and Jane metamorphosed back into the boring girl next door that Madison had always known she was. So, okay, Madison and Gaby would be reunited on the small screen. Fine. But Madison didn’t believe for one millisecond that Trevor was still searching for the girls who’d play the other two parts.

  “Give me a hint about the other two, at least,” she tried.

  Trevor looked at Dana, who tapped her long fingers anxiously on the table. “We’re not sure yet, but we want someone in the music industry. And we need someone who is trying to be an actress,” he said. “I mean, this is L.A., after all. Every waitress has a demo reel and a head shot.”

  Madison stifled a laugh. An Adele wannabe and some misguided silver-screen striver! The musician, whatever. But the actress? Madison would like to meet the poor girl who thought that a reality show was a ticket to future starring roles. Unless you were already established, a reality show was death to an acting career. That was Hollywood 101. Sure, you gained notoriety, but you spent your entire career battling the stigma of being a “reality star.” No serious producer would have you in his movie unless it was a one-line cameo during which you mocked your small-screen self. Sad.

  Madison toyed with a lock of her perfectly platinum hair. “You know, Trevor, I’m not sure about this. I shared the spotlight on L.A. Candy and—”

  Trevor didn’t even hold up a hand to stop her. He just interrupted with, “How about another thirty grand per episode? Will that ease your worries? But we’ll need your answer by the end of today. Or we’ll have to look for someone else. And I’m sure we won’t have any trouble finding someone who wants the job.”

  Madison took a deep breath and willed her facial expression to remain neutral. (Thanks to years of Botox injections this wasn’t much of a challenge.) Suddenly they were talking money—like, real money. And Madison always needed money, because looking as good as she did didn’t come cheap. She could already imagine the expression on her agent’s face when she told him. Nick would be so proud of her.

  “PopTV will send over the revised offer to your agent,” Trevor said, as if reading her mind. He was an expert at staying one step ahead of his girls and hitting them with an unforeseen twist—both on the show and off.

  “And I’m the star,” Madison said firmly.

  Trevor smiled. “You can’t make a star, Madison,” he said smoothly. “You can only show her off to the world.”

  Madison laughed. Another thing about Trevor? He always knew just what bullshit thing to say. She loved that about him.

  “And no one makes more than me?”

  Trevor laughed. “After you, do you really think the network can afford it?”

  She took another sip of her coconut water and then, ever so slowly, extended her hand. “Then I think,” she said, the corners of her mouth pulling up into a brilliant, ten-thousand-dollar smile, “we may have a deal.”

  Chapter 2

  A Good Sign

  Kate Hayes tore off her Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf apron and pulled her strawberry-blond hair from its elastic as she raced to her car. This was her final interview for the new Trevor Lord show and she didn’t want to be late. She’d met with Dana twice already, and apparently she’d done well, because Trevor’s assistant had called that morning, telling Kate to come at two. And make sure to bring your guitar, she’d said, her voice syrupy but firm.

  When Dana first approached her at the Coffee Bean, Kate didn’t know what to think. She’d noticed the tall, tired-looking woman staring at her from behind the food case long after she’d paid for her sugar-free Soy Vanilla Blended. Blank-faced, Kate had gone about grinding beans and pulling shots, pretending that nothing was unusual about having a stranger ogle her like she was some misplaced exotic animal. Finally, when Kate was beginning to feel slightly freaked out by the attention, Dana had introduced herself. She was a TV producer, she said, and she wondered if Kate was the girl who’d done that YouTube cover of “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.”

  “Who hasn’t done a cover of ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun’?” Kate had asked, still not trusting that Dana was the real deal. “It’s like t
he number-one karaoke song ever.”

  Dana had run her fingers through her frazzled hair and sighed. No, she’d said, she meant the one that took Cyndi Lauper’s 1980s party anthem and transformed it into a slow, quiet, nearly heartbreaking look at class anxiety and a young girl’s longing for independence. “That was you, wasn’t it?” Dana asked, narrowing her brown eyes.

  Kate was taken aback. It was one thing to be recognized in her hometown of Columbus, Ohio, but in L.A.? Sure, her YouTube video had gone viral, ever since Courtney Love had tweeted something barely comprehensible about it (whos this brillient chica I found bymistake loveher!), the girls over at had made her a pick of the day, and Rolling Stone had done a small profile of her on its website. Kate still had no idea how all that had happened, but it had made her, briefly, just a little bit famous.

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