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Lohan comes of age in the limelight

Casablanca's Mottola takes a teen diva under his experienced wing.

December 07, 2004|Choire Sicha | Special to The Times

As if the incident with her dad weren't enough, that morning pictures of Lohan taken over Thanksgiving had flooded the Internet: The ones in which Lohan appeared were grouped with pictures of her Long Island friends smoking what appeared to be blunts, and hoisting beers in the classic manner of hard-core suburban party chicks.

Lohan groaned. "I was with them over the weekend, my best friends since second grade, and she had pictures on her camera of them smoking pot, and there's pictures of me with those. And we're at this 16-year-old kid's house and my brother was there, and I went to get him. And then she put them on Picturetrail online. Now they're going to People magazine ...."

Spin or not, it's true that readers of celebrity-obsessed magazines get mixed messages about Lohan. So we're confused: Is she a wholesome Disney teen with a fierce work ethic? Or a bad girl in training?

"It's not possible," she said of the implications of the Thanksgiving pictures. "Do you think Tommy's the kind of person who would let me do that? Or my mom? And I physically can't do that." Lohan was referring to her recent gossip-fueling hospitalization, which she attributed to exhaustion.

"I actually think I should do a reality show and have it with me 24/7 so everyone can see I'm not this crazy person I'm supposed to be," she said. And: "I'm not out to be liked by everyone. I'm here to get my job done and do what I love to do."

But it's got to be hard to love these cycles of product promotion that most celebrities choose to endure. Her face is notably thinner than her publicity pictures for the CD: The luminosity and health that made her so appealing in "Mean Girls" is dampened. "The other day I woke up at 5 -- this was when I was really sick too. I'm just getting better, but I still have a stuffy nose -- went and did radio, went everywhere, came back in, did phoners, then I had band rehearsal till 9 at night, had to meet with my agent, then I finally went to bed." No dancing on the tables at Bungalow 8? "You just ignore it," she said of those Page Six reports. "When you address it, it opens it up, it gives it an opening. Then they say, 'Lindsay Lohan Denies Dancing on Tables.' If you ignore it, it'll eventually subside."

As far as her career, she admires the way the Olsen twins have seized the means, as it were, of their own production. She has an idea that she can bifurcate her brand, to be her own twins, in a way: "I want it to be like Lindsay the singer, and Lindsay Lohan the actress. I'm not going to go changing my name to like, ha ha, Lidz, something random, LL Rocks. But I want to find a way just to separate it from my acting."

And, like the Olsen twins, she soon must find a way to gently but absolutely distinguish herself as an adult performer; many of her peers -- Britney Spears is a good example -- have mangled the task.

Shortly thereafter, a publicist came in and exasperatedly said it was time to go, stopping Lohan in mid-sentence. What she had been saying was: "I've never been in this for the money, especially for someone my age who likes to shop." (A joke.) "I'm meeting with my managers; I want to be in this for the longevity, and I want to have a great name. People have seen me go through my family issues, a breakup, and going to the hospital. So we -- "

When she stood to leave, taller than expected in her knee-high burgundy lace-up Marc Jacobs boots ("75% off!"), the adultness slipped off and she looked free and sweet. On her itinerary for the evening: to get "that airbrushed tan thing," followed by band rehearsal and then a late dinner with Mottola.

But. Neither Lohan nor her mother had ever given the slightest hint of reaction to the events of the day. Try it on: You're 18. Your father has just been arrested (again) for visiting the home in which you all once lived. One of the most famous music producers in the world will ship 800,000 of your CDs for Christmas. You'll be doing your first live music performances -- ever -- next week on "Good Morning America." And you're trapped in a wood-paneled room, high above Bergdorf Goodman, watching the Christmas lights silently pop on around Central Park. You've given endless interviews to Japanese camera crews and prying male journalists, the latter of whom are apparently concerned largely with the God-givenness of your breasts. And while your father gets bail, you must be all smiles, all teen charm.

As she adds "singer" to her resume, what Lohan has to do to maintain teen stardom looks like full-time war. It's certainly enough to break a young girl's heart -- or, more likely, to harden it.

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