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Oh, Jackie! : Two of Collins' Books Make for a Juicy Three-Part Miniseries on NBC

October 07, 1990|SUSAN KING | Times Staff Writer

Jackie Collins takes great pride in the story: It's about Chinese officials banning her steamy novels because they feared she was corrupting Chinese youth. But when soldiers went to stores to confiscate more than 200,000 pirated copies of her books, they came away empty-handed.

"They couldn't find any because they were bought so quickly," Collins said with delight.

Collins' novels are always snapped up quickly. They are sure-fire bestsellers and have sold 100 million copies in 30 countries.

Collins makes no excuses for her sexy stories.

"I write very commercial fiction," she said. "I don't think my books do any harm. I don't think they are pornography. I think they are fun sex-- honest sex. I think my books have a moral edge. (French director) Louis Malle called me a 'raunchy moralist,' and I think that's what I am. I don't pull punches."

Men often object that Collins creates heroines who are stronger than the male characters. "They are usually stuffy, up-tight men (who object)," she said, laughing, "usually critics. I think men are taken more seriously, especially if they are writing the kind of book that I write. Women have always been criticized for writing about sex. It's taken for granted that a man would do so."

For someone who is rich and famous and writes about the rich, famous and powerful, Collins is remarkably down to earth. No plastic surgery, $20,000 dresses or heavy makeup. She loves to gossip and has a ribald sense of humor.

"I love my work," she said, tossing back her long mane of brown hair. "I love to write."

October is a big month for Collins. She is co-executive producer and writer of "Jackie Collins' 'Lucky/Chances,' " NBC's six-hour miniseries, which begins Sunday.

Based on her two popular novels, "Chances" and "Lucky," the three-part drama follows the lives of the strong-willed Lucky Santangelo (Nicollette Sheridan) and her equally strong father, Gino (Vincent Irizarry).

Collins' latest novel "Lady Boss," a sequel to both books, is in bookstores as the miniseries airs.

NBC hopes "Lucky/Chances" will lure viewers away from the baseball playoffs on CBS. And not just female viewers. "What red-blooded male would want to watch the playoffs when they can see Nicollette Sheridan?" Collins asked.

Collins had numerous offers to sell the rights to "Chances" and "Lucky," but turned them all down until NBC gave her the chance to be executive producer and to write the teleplay.

"I was creative consultant on (the ABC miniseries) 'Hollywood Wives,' " she said. "That meant they never consulted me. It's a very good Hollywood trick. They pay you a fee and then they never consult you. The show had great ratings, but it wasn't what I wanted to see on television. It didn't have the heat of the book. It was totally miscast with 12 huge stars who were all wrong for their roles."

To win the rights, NBC gave Collins what she wanted.

"After they green-lighted the script, they started making suggestions for the lead roles, which were major stars," she said. "I said, 'Let's have a fantastic young terrific cast, probably more or less unknown, who are going to be right for the roles. The stars we will put in cameo roles around them.' "

When Collins first moved here from England a decade ago, she wasn't taken seriously by Hollywood. "They would have loved 'Hollywood Wives' to flop. Then they could have dismissed me and said, 'She knows nothing of Hollywood. These wives don't exist.'

"What happened was the book was so enormously successful that they had to accept me. I have a lot of friends who are terrific that I don't write about. There are some great Hollywood wives who are into charities."

Hollywood plays a guessing game every time Collins writes a new book. People angrily accuse her of writing about them. "I usually say, 'Look, it's not you. There are a million characters like that. There are a million fading superstars in Hollywood. It's not your husband."

Collins was inspired to write "Hollywood Wives" after having lunch at a swank restaurant. "The women all had the same face lift and the same clothes," she said. "They could be anything from 30 to 50. They have this white stretched skin and not a line on their face and no character.

"I like a face with character. That's the European way. When a woman gets older, it's more sensual. I bumped into Jackie Bisset the other night, she is a raving beauty anyway, but you can see she has had nothing done. She has lines and has character."

Collins, married and the mother of three daughters, said she leads a "normal life" in Beverly Hills. Her favorite day is one where she has nothing to do but write. "I don't put on makeup," she said. "I put on my track suit and run out in the garden with my dogs and sit out there and write."

"Jackie Collins' 'Lucky/Chances' " airs Sunday through Tuesday from 9 to 11 p.m. on NBC.

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