If you Google the term Hollywood Wives, the first responses that are generated of course relate to Jackie Collins' 1983 trashtastic novel about a group of backstabbing, partying, oversexed bimbettes who made Faustian beauty-for-bucks pacts with their husbands. Scroll down a couple more entries and you'll find gossip-column staples like Jessica Simpson and Reese Witherspoon dogged by such provocative questions as ''After the bridal bouquet has been caught...how [do] couples like Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick keep their relationship going strong, despite busy showbiz schedules?'' (It's called a nanny.)
You have to comb through 10 more pages to actually find a ''civilian'' Hollywood wife one whose Starbucks habits aren't monitored by Page Six. And it turns out Gigi Levangie Grazer, spouse of Brian ''Cinderella Man'' Grazer and author of the 2005 best-seller The Starter Wife, has plenty to say about the less glamorous side of power matrimony in Hollywood. ''It's not like being a housewife. There's all this upkeep. More stuff owns you. It becomes important who you vacation with, where you vacation, who's there.'' She continues: ''Your life is scheduling and appointments and maybe putting your kids to bed.''
Wait, but that last part sounds exactly like being a wife anywhere be it Hollywood, Calif., or Hollywood, Fla. As ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY spent time traversing the hills and crisscrossing the canyons of the L.A. area, lunching at starlet-friendly restaurants, and hearing one sordid divorce saga on a deck with no view, we found these women's lives far more complicated and nuanced than a Jackie Collins novel or Liz Smith column can portray. There are the privileges (Pilates sessions: daily, private) you'd expect; an insecurity you wouldn't (''Being married to someone well-known, there's an adjusting that goes on,'' explains Lyn Davis Lear, wife of All in the Family and The Jeffersons creator Norman. ''You have that whole 'Who am I in this relationship? I've done a lot too'''). There are stereotypes confirmed (the incestuous social network) and debunked (black-tie benefits = total nightmare). Most wives donate time and money to causes. A majority of them love the perks that come with their famous last names one wife even got a career out of it. Here's what it's like to live in Hollywood, the ultimate company town, where everybody is married to the CEO.
Gigi Levangie Grazer
''It's dangerous to come into contact with me,'' laughs Gigi, biting into a lettuce leaf, her muscularly minuscule figure disappearing into the couch cushions at her Pacific Palisades home. Unlike the legions of inner-circle wives who adhere to the thou-shalt-not-burn-famous-bridges code, Gigi loves to dish. And dish she will, but not before playfully covering up a reporter's tape recorder mic to gossip about a high-profile broadcast network suit, mock a recently jilted wife, and critique a TV star's horrid plastic surgery. Overshare No. 421: ''I couldn't have sex when I was pregnant because I would throw up,'' she says, dissing her Starter Wife jacket photo, which was taken while she was expecting. If you've read the delightfully sudsy novel about a big-time studio head who leaves his wife for Britney Spears (which is being adapted into a USA Network miniseries for next year), you probably recognize the line. Busted! ''Oops!'' she giggles, considering some of the other book details that might be taken for truth. Pause. ''I swear that line in the book was not real: Brian does not shave his b---s.''