Last Friday I found Holly Sorensen working in a bungalow at CBS Studio Center just over the hill from Hollywood. Although still recovering from Johnny’s party at the Chateau Marmont after The Rum Diary premiere the night before, I was looking forward to seeing her after more than ten years despite a deep pain in my brain from, of all things, too much rum. Rum shooters, rum with ginger beer, rum in every form you could imagine. And, how right it was to be back at the Chateau, Hunter’s favorite hotel. I’m sure he haunts it nightly, making sure Suite 59 is still filled with fun. It definitely was last Thursday night, but that’s another story, as Hunter would say.
When I contacted Holly earlier in the week, I was afraid that she would either not respond or send a gaggle of lawyers my way. As most true Hunter fans already know, she was the object of extreme vilification by Hunter in an infamous FAX he sent her in 2001. A company she worked for at the time – The Shooting Gallery, now defunct – had optioned The Rum Diary after she met with Hunter and Johnny in the Tiki Hut in 1999. After more than a year of phone calls and visits, there was still no writer attached or a script. Hunter wrote her a FAX that became legendary in Hollywood for expressing an author’s frustration with a studio executive. I wanted her side of the story.
The FAX will be covered in the next episode of this series, but as you can see here in Episode Seven, Holly had unexpected observations about Hunter and The Rum Diary.
I probably should not have been so amazed that Holly welcomed my visit. First, she answered her cell phone when I called. Second, she agreed to consider an interview, and third, she told me she cried when she heard Hunter’s voice on line in one of the first episodes in this series. How strange to find that this woman, now legendary in Hollywood as the object of Hunter’s bitter FAX, truly loved him, just like all of his who were lucky enough to dwell in his kitchen.
Hunter had that odd ability to insult people into lasting friendships as I noted earlier about the author William Kennedy in Episode Three. Once Hunter shot into the frame of a door in which I was standing with a shotgun pistol. One degree of difference in his well-aimed blast and I would have been gut shot and dead in a very painful way. I took it as a hug from Hunter, just as Kennedy and Sorensen took his well-written insults.