Hooray for Hollywood!

This was my first blog post ever. pparently no one in Hollywood listened. Oscar winning actress Anjelica Huston was being interviewed by Terry Gross on NPR’s “Fresh Air” recently and referenced her mothers death as something she couldn’t handle emotionally well. Understandable, she was 17. angelica huston

But then she said she didn’t hang around for the reading of the will . Well Anjelica, you didn’t miss much. Best to skip law school too and keep your day job as an Oscar winner.

Here is what I said about this in 2011. At least I know Hollywood doesn’t care what I write here.

Apparently without any desire to find out how it really works, Hollywood has developed several legal conventions for us all to consume, and presume, exist outside the theater. Here are some events on screen and how they play out in real life.

1) The reading of the will. You know how it looks, it’s the same every time. A really expensive looking conference room, a bushy browed lawyer at one end of the table reads to the assembled family members, or in the case of Rainman just Tom Cruise. In a slow steady voice he parcels out the property of the decedant and the people react. “I definitely got the roses, right?”
I hate to bring you up to date on current events but this doesn’t happen. I polled the lawyers on the probate list serve here in Washington State and found only one man who has ever been asked to do this and declared he would never do it again. It is a prescription for drama as well as domestic violence.

I regularly encounter people in the days following a death in the family who expect the reading of the will is going to be scheduled sometime by my firm, and that people should make travel plans to be there. Often people lie about whether this event has taken place, to yank the chain of the sister they never liked. “Too late Char, the will has been read! HAHAHAHA!”

2) Captains of ships can marry people. No. Persons licensed by authorities in states or other countries to perform weddings can marry people. Perhaps that marriage you are in was performed by the captain of the Love Boat, but you probably ought to check what credentials on land he was given for the act before you set sail. Don’t worry, the children are legitimate in most jurisdictions.the love boat in wreckers yard

3) The right lawyer can win anything. I literally have a memory of sitting on my fathers knee watching Perry Mason as a child. Perry won everything. The music at the end of the show with the books stacked up on screen as the credits rolled by scared the hell out of me. But Perry Mason is not the way it is. perry mason

If you want a reality check, watch A Civil Action starring John Travolta as the “right lawyer”. Its based on a true story, and I don’t think they deviatated from how things really happen. Fighting for an elusive result most of us would recognize as “justice” John makes mistakes and goes broke. And that ladies and gentlemen is a harsh reality check, even for the right lawyer.
John Adams
Even John Adams.

3 comments on “Hooray for Hollywood!

  1. Reblogged this on Lawyers Road Review and commented:

    Fresh from some cases where the pro se litigants expected movie time results, I have to remind the viewers, do not attempt this at home. Pass the popcorn.

  2. pdsmall says:

    Well. Hm! And all these years I thought that everything I saw on the big screen (including the news) was the truth. Ach. What shall I do, now that this bubble has been exploded? So what.., it’s not Beaver Cleaver? It’s not Judd for the Defense? Geez counselor,now I have to replace my disillusion with reality-at Xmas time? Double ach. Reason to implode.

    Seriously, there has to be as many folks who believe what the screen portrays, just as my Grandma thought when she read Photoplay, that Cary Grant was straight. I can’t see a fix here-except to do a “Network” bit, stand at the ledge of some window, and scream “We’re not in Kansas anymore!”.
    Oops. Wrong flick, but you get the point.

    ‘Tis my guess that there wasn’t a class in law school named, “Clients: how to read their minds, while correcting their reality”. Maybe you should include a statement piece, along with anything else you include in the client packet, place it on top, and highlight in yellow all the important parts, so there’s no doubt as to your point. Of course this doesn’t mean squat for the dingbats.

  3. No, there was no such class. The only thing close to this that I recall is one proffessor telling the assembled class “beware of jurors who smile at you and your client”.

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