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CAA's Secret Weapon

October 18, 1998|Julie Logan

There's something going around at Creative Artists Agency, and the bug can be traced to the Wilshire Boulevard penthouse suite of a Beverly Hills dermatologist. Here, beyond the bric-a-brac of his more-is-more waiting room decor, Dr. Harold Lancer fills a steady stream of requests for a form of the bacteria that causes botulism.

The beauty of Botox, as agents have discovered in the few years since it landed on planet Hollywood, is its calming effect on facial winces and grimaces. Injected into muscle beds, it reduces for six months or more the intensity of the contractions that cause frown lines, crow's feet and forehead wrinkles. The poker face is particularly in demand, Lancer notes, when a big deal requiring heavy negotiations is on the horizon. "No matter how tense things get, their expressions won't give them away. I guess they feel it gives them an edge."

Lancer says his CAA clientele breaks down evenly between men and women, most of them in their mid-30s. Men have stronger facial muscles, he says, so it typically takes more Botox--and more money, $400 to $600 per site--to relax their frowns. "I haven't heard of anything like that," says a CAA spokeswoman of the Botox craze.

Lancer says he's been impressed by agents' willingness to switch off their cell phones during the 10-minute procedure--but what's with the furtive approach? " 'Listen, doc,' " the shyer agents will say after booking an appointment on the pretense of, say, having a mole checked. " 'I need to look more relaxed, more carefree. Have you got anything for that?' "

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