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The following article has nothing to do with A Series of Unfortunate Events, and contains language that is not G-rated.

The Freedonian

Hollywood Week

Dec. 4 Dec. 10, 2000

Celebrity Muggings
By Daniel Handler

The first time I was mugged I was 15 years old, and it was by Tom Hanks, who had not yet tied the record for consecutive Best Actor Oscars with Spencer Tracy, but was co-starring in the sitcom Bosom Buddies. He got me from behind and took $12 cash and a bag of recyclable cans I was hauling to the grocery store. Having just come from the set, Tom Hanks was dressed as a woman, and I didn't recognize him until several years had passed and his face was plastered all over town for the movie Big, directed by Penny Marshall. It was something in the eyes.

I waited outside the People's Choice Awards and broke through the paparazzi to shout: "There he is! Tom Hanks! The guy who mugged me!" When the tequila sunrises were out of my system I realized it had been a mistake, because by then Tom Hanks was powerful enough to get his revenge, and sure enough, a few years later, he took $8.50 from me when I went to see Forrest Gump in the theater. Tom Hanks played an idiot.

The first time Oprah Winfrey mugged me was when, against my better judgement, I went to one of those outdoor ATM machines in a dimly lit area. The area was so dimly lit that when she said "Down on the floor, motherfucker!" I thought maybe she was Geena Davis continuing with the swindling that followed Earth Girls Are Easy. Had I known it was Oprah Winfrey I would have piped up, despite her command not to say "a motherfucking word." I would have told her that I loved her in The Color Purple, which was directed by Steven Spielberg based on Alice Walker's best-selling novel. Another victim told me once that Oprah went easy on the beatings if you kissed up about The Color Purple, but, as I mentioned previously, I thought it was Geena Davis and I said something to her about The Accidental Tourist, which was directed by Lawrence Kasdan based on Anne Tyler's best-selling novel, and she broke my nose.

The other times Oprah Winfrey took my money had to do with her television talk show, which is a big hit. I paid good money for products advertised during the commercial breaks, and yet none of them worked as well as they claimed they would. Plus, I bought She's Come Undone, a book that Oprah Winfrey said she loved, and it was just terrible.

Word must have gotten out that I was a featherweight, because just three weeks later, Elizabeth Shue got me twice, once with The Trigger Effect, which I saw in the theater, and once by bashing my head against a brick wall until I relinquished my wallet and a $200 silk tie I had bought because Alec Baldwin looked so great in it on E!'s coverage of the Golden Globes. Elizabeth Shue is just a little slip of a thing, but so is Linda Hunt and she got me when I went to see The Relic in the theater.

I think actresses have more time to limber up than your average criminal.

After The Scarlet Letter, Striptease and G.I. Jane, I just walked into CAA and poured the contents of my wallet onto the receptionist's desk and asked her to give it all directly to Demi Moore. I was tired of being nickeled and dimed. The agency didn't see it that way. One of their hired goons even implied, in a very sarcastic tone of voice, that maybe I was complaining because my own screenplay, a heartwarming story of an unknown writer whose screenplay sells for so much money that celebrities all over the world are begging just to touch the hem of his garment, hadn't sold. They then threw me out of the building.

I was worried that CAA, like the Mafia and the cast of Friends, would get revenge on my family, and sure enough the next week my mom was on an airplane, forced to watch Two If By Sea.

I was still recovering from a switchblade wound delivered by Goldie Hawn, when I paid $20 (if you include the popcorn I bought to avoid the Wesley Snipes preview) to see Contact with a friend. I took the subsequent money I won in my out-of-court settlement against Matthew McConaughey for inducing pain and injury, and hired the personal trainer who had buffed-up Woody Harrelson to the point where I actually paid to see Money Train. My new muscles made me cocky, so when Andrew Lloyd Webber cornered me outside the Disney Store and took my watch and the sunglasses I'd bought as a Men In Black tie-in, I told him he was the worst composer the world had ever seen. He vowed he'd get his revenge. I said not a chance, but a month later some cousins came into town and refused to leave me alone until we all saw Cats.

It hurt much worse than Michael Crawford breaking both my legs when I eventually left the theater.

Daniel Handler moved to San Francisco in early July and has still not received his fucking furniture from Mayflower Movers. Also, he has written some books.

Monday: Celebrity Muggings by Daniel Handler