Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
Tim Sandlin

GET UPDATES FROM Tim Sandlin
 

Lessons Learned From Brad Pitt's Fan Mail

Posted: 11/11/2013 11:36 am

Ten winters ago, toward the end of my Hollywood period, Carol, Leila, and I house-sat for the woman who directed Skipped Parts: the movie. She and her husband had this monster truck of a house that the Welch family of Welches Grape Juice and Jelly built under the Griffith Observatory there in Griffith Park. They (the Welches) planted grapevines all over the mountain that is now an upscale L.A. neighbourhood. The house had six marble staircases, which is a veritable nightmare for a couple with a two-year-old daughter. More than once I called Carol on the cell phone because I couldn't find her, even though I knew she was in the house.

Tamra the director, who is wonderful in every way, is married to a nice guy named Michael Diamond who is in a band called the Beastie Boys. They had some interesting friends, coming in and out of the house. On their son's birthday, Michael, whose friends call Mickey D., played disc jockey all afternoon while the kids yelled and ran through the garden and down by the pool. I wasn't familiar with any of the songs he played. They were all on vinyl record albums.

Normally, it would be bad form for a house-sitter to mention this stuff, but they have since moved, so I think it's okay now. I enjoyed the winter, in spite of the constant struggle to keep Leila from tumbling down steps. They had a screening room where we watched eight-foot tall Telly Tubbies dance and fall down backwards. Imagine that.

But this blog is not about house-sitting. It's about fan mail. You see, street kids in L.A. stand on the corners of major streets selling these things called Star Maps. Tourists buy them and drive around neighbourhoods, looking for the houses where their favourite movie stars live. So far as I know, the Star Maps' addresses are wrong. For instance, they gave the address where we were staying as belonging to Brad Pitt. This was back when he was still with Jennifer Aniston, I think, so far as people knew.

Later, I asked Tamra and she said neither Brad Pitt nor Jennifer Aniston had ever lived there. Neither had ever visited the house or lived nearby, but this didn't stop a daily dribble of cars from driving by the front gate while tourists craned their necks and sometimes even touched our mailbox. Once or twice a week, an airplane or helicopter swooped over the pool and some pushy type leaned out to take my daughter's photo.

Once we got past the fear of a nutcase fame-chaser climbing over the fence, we weren't bothered by the gawkers. Heck, we'd probably have had the tourists anyway, if they'd known it was a Beastie Boy house.

But the thing was -- the mail. Brad and Jennifer got a lot of mail. Someone must have posted the address on the internet. It tapered off later, but the first few weeks brought 10 or 20 letters a day. I guess if I'd known where Brad lived I could have boxed up his mail and taken it to him. It would have made a nice icebreaker with Jennifer. But I didn't know and I didn't think they wanted the mail anyway, so I did what any other normal American would have done with a pile of unsolicited mail addressed to Brad Pitt -- I opened it.

Not all of it, of course. I had better things to do, like watching eight-foot Telly Tubbies jump out of holes in artificial turf. But I opened enough to get the general drift.

I used to receive fan mail myself. Nothing like Brad and Jennifer, mind you, but enough to establish a pattern. Very few were scary. Most of the writers said they enjoyed my books and I should keep writing. Sometimes, guys who'd recently lost girlfriends would get drunk and write these two a.m. 12-page rave-ons, putting down all the pain they would never dump on their friends. A surprising number of girls wrote to tell me how their boyfriends were in bed.

"I don't much like him and I would break up with him but he's so good at . . . " and then they would describe a procedure I'm not sure is physically possible.

A number of letters started out, "I always wanted to write Such-and-So but then he died, so I decided I should write you before you die." My not dying years ago seems to have gratified many readers.

Very rarely, someone would say, "I've had such an interesting life, everyone tells me I should be a writer. How about if I tell you my story and you type it up and we'll split the money." These letters tended to come from guys in prison. My theory is Sex and Sunsets was one of the few hardbacks with Sex in the title, so it sold well in prison libraries. Whatever the cause, I used to be the swamp where prison mail went to die.

Nowadays, I don't get much post office reader mail. It comes in over Facebook or the Timsandlin.com guest book. I enjoy hearing from readers, although the angry person can be trying. I got a message the other day from a man who said he would have been a best-selling author if he lowered himself to writing sex scenes, the way I do. Humorous fiction brings out the hate in people who don't get it.

But, enough about me. Let's get back to Brad Pitt. Before I grew bored and quit reading his mail, I probably opened 20 letters and not one followed the drift that I get in my mail. No one said, "I like your work," or "Congratulations, Brad!" or even "I wanted to write you before you died." Every letter to Brad Pitt wanted something from him.

They wanted him to read their script. They wanted him to get them a job as a producer. They wanted him to introduce them to Jennifer Lopez. A lot of them started out, "You've had luck and I've never had luck and I deserve to be as famous as you, therefore you owe me . . ." So on. So forth. A number of the letter writers simply wanted money. Postal spare change artists.

So, here are the morals of the story: First, don't write Brad Pitt, asking him to do something for you. The address is wrong. Second, don't write the federal government and tell them I opened Brad's mail. I will deny it. Third, don't go looking for any Beastie Boys over by Griffith Park. They moved. Fourth, don't send me a CD and ask me to forward it to Mickey D. I don't know him that well. I was his house-sitter, for Chrissake.

I can't think of a fifth.

ALSO ON HUFFPOST:

Loading Slideshow...
  • Brad Pitt

    Brad Pitt arrives at the premiere for "12 Years a Slave" on day 2 of the Toronto International Film Festival at The Princess of Wales Theatre on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013, in Toronto. (Photo by Chris Pizzelloi/Invision/AP)

  • "12 Years A Slave" Premiere - Arrivals - 2013 Toronto International Film Festival

    TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 06: Actor/ producer Brad Pitt arrives at the '12 Years A Slave' Premiere during the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival at Princess of Wales Theatre on September 6, 2013 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

  • "12 Years A Slave" Premiere - Arrivals - 2013 Toronto International Film Festival

    TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 06: Actor/ producer Brad Pitt arrives at the '12 Years A Slave' Premiere during the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival at Princess of Wales Theatre on September 6, 2013 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

  • "12 Years A Slave" Premiere - Arrivals - 2013 Toronto International Film Festival

    TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 06: Actor/ producer Brad Pitt arrives at the '12 Years A Slave' Premiere during the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival at Princess of Wales Theatre on September 6, 2013 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

  • "12 Years A Slave" Premiere - Arrivals - 2013 Toronto International Film Festival

    TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 06: Actor/ producer Brad Pitt arrives at the '12 Years A Slave' Premiere during the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival at Princess of Wales Theatre on September 6, 2013 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

  • Brad Pitt

    Brad Pitt arrives at the premiere for "12 Years a Slave" on day 2 of the Toronto International Film Festival at The Princess of Wales Theatre on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013, in Toronto. (Photo by Chris Pizzelloi/Invision/AP)

  • Brad Pitt

    Brad Pitt arrives at the red carpet at the gala for the new movie "12 Years a Slave" during the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette)

  • "Hateship Loveship" Premiere - Arrivals - 2013 Toronto International Film Festival

    TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 06: Actress Kristen Wiig arrives at 'Hateship Loveship' Premiere during the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival at Princess of Wales Theatre on September 6, 2013 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

  • "Hateship Loveship" Premiere - Arrivals - 2013 Toronto International Film Festival

    TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 06: Actress Sami Gayle arrives at 'Hateship Loveship' Premiere during the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival at Princess of Wales Theatre on September 6, 2013 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

  • Kristen Wiig

    Kristen Wiig, a cast member in "Hateship Loveship," poses at the premiere of the film on day 2 of the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival at The Princess of Wales Theatre on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013 in Toronto. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Kristen Wiig

    Kristen Wiig, a cast member in "Hateship Loveship," waves to fans before heading into the theater for the premiere of the film on day 2 of the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival at The Princess of Wales Theatre on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013 in Toronto. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • "Only Lovers Left Alive" Premiere - 2013 Toronto International Film Festival

    TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 05: Actress Mia Wasikowska (L) and actor Tom Hiddleston attend the 'Only Lovers Left Alive' premiere during the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival at Ryerson Theatre on September 5, 2013 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

  • "Only Lovers Left Alive" Premiere - 2013 Toronto International Film Festival

    TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 05: (L-R) Actors Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska and Anton Yelchin attend the 'Only Lovers Left Alive' premiere during the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival at Ryerson Theatre on September 5, 2013 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

  • "Only Lovers Left Alive" Premiere - 2013 Toronto International Film Festival

    TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 05: Actress Mia Wasikowska attends the 'Only Lovers Left Alive' premiere during the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival at Ryerson Theatre on September 5, 2013 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

  • "Only Lovers Left Alive" Premiere - 2013 Toronto International Film Festival

    TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 05: Actress Mia Wasikowska attends the 'Only Lovers Left Alive' premiere during the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival at Ryerson Theatre on September 5, 2013 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

  • "All Cheerleaders Die" Premiere - 2013 Toronto International Film Festival

    TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 05: Actress Caitlin Stasey arrives at the 'All Cheerleaders Die' premiere during the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival at Ryerson Theatre on September 5, 2013 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

  • "All Cheerleaders Die" Premiere - 2013 Toronto International Film Festival

    TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 05: Actresses Sianoa Smit-McPhee (L) and Reanin Johannink arrive at the 'All Cheerleaders Die' premiere during the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival at Ryerson Theatre on September 5, 2013 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

  • "All Cheerleaders Die" Premiere - 2013 Toronto International Film Festival

    TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 05: Actress Reanin Johannink arrives at the 'All Cheerleaders Die' premiere during the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival at Ryerson Theatre on September 5, 2013 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

  • "All Cheerleaders Die" Premiere - 2013 Toronto International Film Festival

    TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 05: Actress Amanda Grace Cooper arrives at the 'All Cheerleaders Die' premiere during the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival at Ryerson Theatre on September 5, 2013 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

  • Benedict Cumberbatch

    Actor Benedict Cumberbatch attends the opening night "The Fifth Estate" gala at Roy Thomson Hall during 2013 Toronto International Film Festival on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013, in Toronto. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

  • Carice Van Houten

    Actress Carice Van Houten poses for photographs as she arrives at the gala for the new movie "The Fifth Estate" during the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn)

  • Dan Stevens

    Actor Dan Stevens attends the opening night "The Fifth Estate" gala at Roy Thomson Hall during 2013 Toronto International Film Festival on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013, in Toronto. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

  • Carice Van Houten

    Actress Carice Van Houten attends the opening night gala for "The Fifth Estate" at Roy Thomson Hall during 2013 Toronto International Film Festival on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013, in Toronto. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

  • Daniel Bruhl

    Actor Daniel Bruhl attends the opening night gala for "The Fifth Estate" at Roy Thomson Hall during 2013 Toronto International Film Festival on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013, in Toronto. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

  • Benedict Cumberbatch

    Actor Benedict Cumberbatch poses for a photographs on the red carpet at the gala for the new movie "The Fifth Estate" during the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn)

  • Dan Stevens

    Actor Dan Stevens poses for photographs on the red carpet at the gala for the new movie "The Fifth Estate" during the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn)

  • Benedict Cumberbatch

    Benedict Cumberbatch walks on the red carpet at the gala for the new movie "The Fifth Estate" during the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn)

  • Alicia Vikander

    Alicia Vikander poses for a photograph on the red carpet at the gala for the new movie "The Fifth Estate" during the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn)

  • Daniel Bruhl

    Actor Daniel Bruhl walks the red carpet at the gala for the new movie "The Fifth Estate" during the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette)

  • Daniel Bruhl

    Actor Daniel Bruhl, right, poses for photographs on the red carpet at the gala for the new movie "The Fifth Estate" during the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette)

  • Benedict Cumberbatch

    Actor Benedict Cumberbatch, right, poses for photographs on the red carpet at the gala for the new movie "The Fifth Estate" during the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn)

  • Glenn Close

    Glenn Close, a cast member in the 1983 film "The Big Chill," poses for photographers before a reunion screening of the film at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival at The Princess of Wales Theatre on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013 in Toronto. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Mary Kay Place, Kevin Kline, JoBeth Williams

    Mary Kay Place, left, Kevin Kline, center, and JoBeth Williams, cast members in the 1983 film "The Big Chill," pose before a reunion screening of the film at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival at The Princess of Wales Theatre on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013 in Toronto. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Glenn Close, Mary Kay Place, Kevin Kline, Meg Tilly, Tom Berenger, JoBeth Williams

    Cast members, from left, Glenn Close, Mary Kay Place, Kevin Kline, Meg Tilly, Tom Berenger and JoBeth Williams pose before a reunion screening of the 1983 film "The Big Chill" at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival at The Princess of Wales Theatre on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013 in Toronto. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • "The Big Chill" 30th Anniversary Screening - 2013 Toronto International Film Festival

    TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 05: Actress Meg Tilly arrives at 'The Big Chill' 30th Anniversary screening during the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival at Princess of Wales Theatre on September 5, 2013 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

  • "The Big Chill" 30th Anniversary Screening - 2013 Toronto International Film Festival

    TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 05: (L-R) Actors Mary Kay Place, Kevin Kline and JoBeth Williams arrive at 'The Big Chill' 30th Anniversary screening during the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival at Princess of Wales Theatre on September 5, 2013 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

  • NEXT: TIFF Most Memorable Red Carpet Looks

  • Kristen Stewart - 2012

    (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

  • Tilda Swinton - 2011

    (Photo by Aaron Harris/Getty Images)

  • Kate Hudson - 2012

    (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)

  • Carey Mulligan - 2010

    (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

  • Keira Knightley - 2011

    (Photo by Toby Canham/Getty Images)

  • Keira Knightley - 2012

    TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 07: Actress Keira Knightley attends the 'Anna Karenina' premiere during the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival at The Elgin on September 7, 2012 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

  • Emma Watson - 2012

    (Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images For Vitaminwater)

  • Rachel McAdams - 2008

    (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

  • Drew Barrymore - 2009

    (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

  • Angelina Jolie - 2011

    (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

  • Maggie Gyllenhaal - 2005

    (Photo by Donald Weber / Getty Images)

  • Jessica Chastain - 2011

    (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

  • Julianne Moore - 2012

    (Photo by Mark Davis/Getty Images)

  • Julianne Moore - 2009

    (Photo by C.J. LaFrance/Getty Images)

 
FOLLOW CANADA LIVING