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The People vs. Courtney Love

March 30, 1997|Steve Hochman

The Oscars are over, and the debate continues over whether Courtney Love should have been nominated for best supporting actress for her role in "The People vs. Larry Flynt."

But now the real debate starts over Love's off-screen roles.

Can the Ms. Hollywood figure we've seen of late be convincing in her imminent return to rock? And if she does renew her wild ways as a rocker, will the movie industry dismiss her demure persona as an act?

Or can she play both at once?

"I know there was a big controversy [among some fans] when she wasn't nominated and didn't speak up about it," says Lisa Worden, music director of KROQ-FM. "People were asking, 'Oh, is she losing her edge?' "

Love didn't exactly mollify those concerns when, while arriving at the Oscar ceremony, she told television host Roger Ebert, "You can't dive into the mosh pit after a certain age." Her shoulder tattoo was the only visible remnant of the "old" Courtney.

Stacey Kirkland, who works at Aron's Records in Hollywood, has been a fiercely loyal Love fan, and she felt betrayed by the image she saw on the Oscars. Love, she says, seems to have turned into the very kind of figure that she once ridiculed in her songs with her band, Hole.

"This was the opposite of what she was, or what she claimed to be," says Kirkland, 20, who sports blue hair and rings through her nose and lip. "She's turned into what she used to make fun of and yell at. . . . The sound of Hole was gut-wrenching angst, and you can't have that in a white satin dress and a platinum bob."

And this came on top of a recent comment to Rolling Stone's Fred Schruers by "Larry Flynt" director Milos Forman that Love is "under the pressure of the music people to play, to act, this character who is on the edge."

Craig Marks, managing editor of Spin--which recently named Hole the eighth most-important act in rock--disputes Forman's contention.

"That's stupid," Marks says. "She's lived a lot of punk-rock life."

Several music-business figures who work closely with Love concur that it's absurd to view her "edge" image as a fabrication, though one of them quipped after seeing her on the Oscar telecast, "Oh brother! I can't see that person on the [rock] stage."

Marks, conversely, is convinced that the Hollywood Love is the act.

"She's played that role to the hilt," he says. "She's still the definitive rock star of the moment. It remains to be seen how long that moment will last, but until she gives up that crown, she's our best outstanding rock star in a lead role."

Now, though, even ardent supporters say she needs to prove her commitment to rock. The evidence will soon be in the making, with Love and the rest of Hole scheduled to start work next month on a new album, with the Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan as executive producer.

"I'm a fan, obviously, of her music," Marks says. "And I genuinely believe that if she puts out a good record, the 'image' differential won't be a problem."

Says Worden, "I just hope she comes out with a kick-ass record. I don't want any ballad-y, weird things."

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