January 16, 2015

It’s A Hard-Knock Life. But Not As Hard As Prostitution.

Recently my hairstylist asked me if I’d seen the new “Annie” movie yet.

I could tell by the look on HER face that she could tell by the look on MY face that she’d opened a can of worms and whoop ass.

Upon realizing the fury she’d unleashed, she quickly backpedaled and was all “No! That’s sacrilegious to you isn’t it? Don’t you really love the old version or something?”




Or something.

I’ve always loved it.

And here are some pages from my scrapbook (circa late 70’s to early 80’s) to prove it.
photo 1photo 2photo 4

Plus a page with a Pudding Pop on it because I was apparently also quite passionate about my love for Pudding Pops. And also the kind of ugly figurines that old people love.

photo 5

I was 10 years old when the original “Annie” came out.

And I was 10 years old when I’d finally found my calling.

Which was awesome news considering I’d spent the last 2 years worrying that I’d someday have to become a prostitute, thanks to Jodie Foster and a late night television showing of “Taxi Driver.”

I’ll never have enough boobage to hold up a damn tube top.

Life is funny like that.

One minute your teacher is asking a room full of 8-year-olds what they wanna be when they grow up and you’re getting stressed out because you realize that your skills at doing paint by numbers and setting up Barbie crime/natural disaster scenes most likely aren’t a skill set that is gonna pay the bills when you’re an old person. So you go into an “Oh my GOD I’m gonna be a prostitute!” tizzy. Then the next minute you’re realizing that all you have to do is land the lead part in a big screen musical and become rich and famous and invest the proceeds wisely and you’re prostitution free for life. Or at least until your financial manager steals all your money and runs off to Fiji.

But either way, I knew what I was meant to do. And it wasn’t running around NYC with a mowhawked, freaky deaky, Robert DeNiro.

It was singing the most beautifully sad rendition of “Maybe” that anyone had ever heard.

Since the part of “Annie” had already been taken, I decided that due to the movie’s success there would most likely be a part two. Although the part of the headliner in a sequel would usually go to the person who portrayed him/her in the original, I was convinced that if only I could be discovered by someone who had connections to the movie, I could totally get the part.

I spent a lot of time thinking up possible scenarios wherein this might happen.

Scenario 1:  I’m at the mall and a talent scout for the movie happens to be there doing some shopping when suddenly they hear the most beautiful voice of all time singing “Sandy” from the center of a circular rack of clearance sweaters. (I know this sounds implausible but I did actually try it at the Northtown Mall in Springfield, Missouri, but the women shopping at the rack obviously weren’t in the movie industry because they  just either ignored me or asked where my mother was.)

Scenario 2:  The phone rings. I answer it in song, to the tune of “Tomorrow”: “You’ve reached the Rust house, this is Patti. This is Patti Rust how may I help you? Who’s calling please?” And then I hear a voice say “Oh my! I must have accidentally dialed the wrong number but thank God I did because you, my friend, are a superstar! Give me your address so I can send a helicopter to get you and bring you to Hollywood!”

Scenario 3:  I’m outside playing in my front yard, when suddenly a limo drives by and gets a flat tire. When the man gets out to ask to use my phone I sing him my version of “Hard Knock Life” and he says “Oh my God! I just so happen to be a producer of the movie “Annie” and you would be perfect for the part!” Then I say “What about the other girl?” And he says “I guess she’ll have to grow up and be a prostitute!”

I was sure that one of these was going to happen eventually, but in the meantime I busied myself by forcing neighborhood children to spend hours in my basement helping me hone my craft. I made sure to surround myself with kids whose performances didn’t hold a candle to mine so that I would look even better by comparison. It was a grueling time for me as I was both star and director. Not an easy task. To this day I still shake my head in awe of someone like Clint Eastwood who does this on the regular. It was a hard job, being The Eastwood of 11th Street. But I held my own and waited for my shot at the big time.

Unfortunately, due to the fact that I forced my cat, Jackie Sue, to play the part of Sandy, I spent most of my basement production time covered in scratches. But I decided that the scratches only served to make me look more orphany. Then I realized that since in the first “Annie” she had been adopted by super rich Daddy Warbucks, the possibility that she would look scratched up and orphany in part two was pretty slim.

Thankfully I was a very creatively open-minded and multi-talented 10-year-old director/producer/actor/singer/writer, so I decided that part two could include a storyline wherein Annie tells Daddy Warbucks that she does not want to call him “Daddy” because it’s super creepy, so he gets hella pissed and locks her in a dungeon with rats (hence, the scratches), and she sings songs about her imprisonment and turmoil and then plans an escape ala “Escape From Alcatraz” (Clint Eastwood strikes yet again) and things get mega exciting and the chances for musical action sequences grows to epic proportions.

It would be a different kind of “Annie” role, but one that an actor of my caliber could really sink her teeth into.

(Much like my cat sank her teeth into the webbing between my right thumb and forefinger when I tried to make her perform “Dumb Dog” for the twenty hundredth time.)

Although I was completely obsessed with “Annie” and had lots of the dolls and records and everything else, I did not have that one iconic piece: The red dress.

Why? Because my mom wouldn’t buy it for me.

Why? Because she wanted to ruin my life.

I guess she saw that as the one final piece in the puzzle that would really make me shine as “Annie” and figured that if I had it in my possession it was only a matter of time before I moved to L.A. and left her behind.

Either that or she didn’t have the money for it. But I prefer to think it’s the first one because it’s more dramatical and I’m an actress and that’s what we do.

Since I didn’t have the red dress (or any other proper costumes) I had to make them all out of scraps of fabric and construction paper. And I did so beautifully. Until Jackie Sue got pissed one day and ate my “I Think I’m Gonna Like It Here” ensemble and then barfed it up on the playroom carpet.

Although I had accepted the “no store bought dresses” situation and used it as a jumping off point for my practice as a costume designer, thereby solidifying my status as “Most Multifaceted Entertainer Of All Time,” it still came as quite a blow when my neighbor, Melanie, got 2 “Annie” dresses as gifts from her grandmother. Both the red dress and the blue romper with white collar and tie. At first I saw it as a chance for me to finally get the opportunity to wear one of the REAL dresses.

But Melanie saw it differently.

Melanie saw it as a chance to be a total dick.

That was 33 years ago and I still think she’s an asshole. I also like to think that she’s part of the reason I never made it to the big screen because it makes me feel better to blame her for things.

Obviously the years went by and I never did get discovered.

I guess that singing inside a rack of half price sweaters just doesn’t get you maximum exposure to the powers that be.

But that’s all I had.

We didn’t have YouTube or anything like that back then, which is how everyone gets discovered nowadays. And that’s probably a freaking blessing, because if we had I’d now be forever haunted by clips of my musical pleas to studio execs to make “Annie: Escape From The Warbucks Basement.”

By the time I was 14 I’d sold most of my “Annie” paraphernalia in yard sales and had moved on to worrying about being discovered by boys instead of by talent scouts. But I’ve always had a soft spot for the movie and I still TOTALLY obsess about the music. If I get started on one song I have to sing the entire score. Ask The Hub.

I still totally adore everything about the ORIGINAL movie (aside from the fact that I wasn’t in it).

“So have you seen the new Annie yet?”

Remain calm.

Remain calm.

Remain calm.

“WHAT? ARE YOU SERIOUS? Fuck Jamie Foxx. FUCK HIM IN THE FACE.  And I’m sorry, but have you seen the clothes? THEY DON’T EVEN HAVE THE RIGHT CLOTHES! And I can hardly even say this without having chest pains, but CAMERON FREAKING DIAZ? If Carol Burnett was dead she’d be rolling over in her grave. But she’s not. SHE’S NOT DEAD! SHE’S ALIVE AND WELL AND THEY JUST HAD AN ENTIRE KENNEDY CENTER HONORS THING ABOUT HER AND CAMERON DIAZ IS NO MISS HANNIGAN! And did they even sing ‘Sign’? I make a very dry martini. I make a very wet soufflé. Don’t be so mean you mean ole meanie. Lets you and me make, why shouldn’t we make hay. HOW COULD YOU NOT SING SIGN’? HOLY FREAKING CHRIST ON A CRACKER!”


You didn’t see it then?

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6 Responses to “It’s A Hard-Knock Life. But Not As Hard As Prostitution.”

  1. Mary Loeffler Said:

    I so want.nothing.to.do with yet another Bastardized Version of a Classic “Remade” by Hollywood. While I’m curious to actually hear Cameron Diaz sing again (does she sing in this?), I in NO way want to spend any money or time on something that no one else spent any imagination — or any actual “original” imagination on.
    Ok – you want to make an orphan story, like “Annie,”, but set it in the next century, change the entire cast, the name of the father figure, the character-defining physical characteristics of the main, TITLE CHARACTER? So you want a movie that should be called “Sammy,” or “Tammy” (oh, wait, no- WHOLE OTHER -don’t-disgrace-another-classic-movie-title-issue there!), or “Fannie,” or Lannie”, as in LIKE “Annie.”
    BUT NOT.

  2. Nancy Zeller Said:

    I was a fan of the original. LOVED IT. I was also excited when my daughter saw the original and loved it. I was all prepped and ready to not like the new one…but I loved it, too. I think you should see it-even if it’s just to write what is wrong with the remake. And P.S.-I like Cameron Diaz in her roll as Miss Hannigan. I hope that doesn’t mean you will want sex to happen with or to my face like the curse you put on Jamie Foxx.

  3. Miranda Said:

    I have not and never will view the new Annie. I love the ORIGINAL Annie!!! Love your breakbreakdown in this article. It’s what most of us want to say but don’t dare…retribution is a bitch!! Jamie Foxx can suck and swallow as far as I’m concerned!!!!!
    -Your partner in LOVING (and I’M a lot like her) Miss Hannigan

  4. Fern (yes, really) Said:

    I’m with Jessica and RachRiot on this one. There are certain things that you NEVER mess with. One is certain classics – doesn’t matter if they were produced in 1800 and something :p – you just don’t ‘modernise’ them. Uh uh, no way. For me, examples of benchmark originals never ever to be messed with – are: Oliver (1968 movie version); Annie (1982 film version); Nikita (1990 French movie) and The Vanishing (1990 Dutch movie).
    The other way to look at it is what I call ‘The 2 Types of People In the World’ game. On the one hand you have ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ people. On the other, ‘The Sound of Music’ people. Never the twain shall meet. Like, ever.

  5. Athena Said:

    “Orphany” is that a word? Because it should be! That made me laugh, frick I love reading your blogs Patti!
    Can I just tell you I have a niece named Patty, and my dad always called her Patty-whack! And then I always got the song This old man he played one he played… With a knick knack paddy-whack give a dog a bone… You know!
    So anyway yeah!

  6. Liz Said:

    I’d pay to see that Annie sequel. But only if you wrote, directed, starred in, and did the costumes, all from within a clothes rack. I hear Kickstarter calling.

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