Now that "Party of Five" had finished its six year run, Lacey Chabert was free to fulfill movie offers full time. And there were plenty of film offers...just nothing she wanted.
Most of the roles were frothy parts...good girl ingenues in weak comedies or overwrought melodramas. A couple of producers were actually bold enough to suggest some sexier characters, but they were for low budget schlock teen flicks that would probably kill her career overnight.
The problem was, Hollywood basically still viewed her as the virginal young teen she played for so long on TV, and was blind to the fact that she had developed into a beautiful young woman of 17.
Her agent suggested the currently popular quick fix to the dilemma, a racy photospread to "shatter" her good girl image. But, as Lacey pointed out, that route was already old hat. And besides, it was already starting to backfire on some actresses, such as Jessica Biel. No, if she was going to change her image, it would have to be in a more spectacular manner.
"I can't just suddenly appear in a magazine as a slut," she told her manager. "That won't get me Oscar-caliber roles. What I need is to demonstrate that I'm not some timid little girl. Strong women are hot in Hollywood right now, and I have to prove that I'm stronger than anyone."
Not very far away, in the office of another industry manager, another 17 year old was making the same argument.
"I'm being offered too many 'Best Friend' roles," complained Leelee Sobieski. "Casting directors don't see me as being able to carry a picture as the lead. Well, I'm tired of being the girlfriend, or the next door neighbor, or a classmate, and being billed fifth!"
With the sort of no-nonsense firmness she prided herself on, Leelee instructed her manager to, "Find me something that will demonstrate how powerful and capable I am."
Hollywood being what it is, it didn't take long at all for both managers to hear of the other's plight, and for a plan to form between them.
Both of their clients wanted to do something unusual, something that would allow them to demonstrate their focus, their intensity, and their strength. In other words, in movie lingo, Leelee and Lacey had to prove what bitches they could be. Only then, by the logic of the industry, would filmmakers realize their worth.
It was only a short walk to the conclusion that the perfect solution was for the two actresses to fight one another!
But how to carry it off? Perhaps a "spontaneous" catfight arranged for a nightclub, or even an awards ceremony? No, that would only generate tabloid notoriety. Any fight would have to be held before a select audience of industry leaders. The film world's movers and shakers would have to be made to feel privileged, and in so doing, they would reward the actresses.
Not surprisingly, once the plan and its potential opportunities was explained, both teenagers readily agreed to it. Within a matter of days, the deal was set, a locale was selected, and the exclusive guest list was drawn up.
On the night of the event, several dozen of Hollywood's most prominent leaders gathered at a luxurious Malibu beach house. Lacey's manager remarked to Leelee's, "If a tidal wave took out this place, the biggest power left in Hollywood would be Pauly Shore!"
After a lavish dinner catered by Chasen's, the guests were led to one side of a cavernous living room, which would provide ample room for the combatants.
All during dinner, the two girls remained sequestered in separate bedrooms (both were good enough actresses to realize that the drama would be heightened thus). Lacey, all sinew and raw energy, spent the hour before doing light aerobics to get her adrenaline pumping and to loosen up. Leelee, on the other hand, steeled herself through meditation. Although neither harbored any real animosity towards the other, both were determined to win.
Finally, each teen was called into the living room. Leelee emerged first, wearing a rather utilitarian black sports bra and matching shorts. Her long legs propelled her across the carpet to her corner, where she silently awaited her opponent.
Next came Lacey, who was canny enough to wear a fetching one-piece bathing suit that highlighted the fairly recent development of her bust.
As the pair stood facing one another for the first time, virtually everyone in the room had the same thought:
At 5'1", Lacey was a full eight inches shorter than her rival. It would be a quick match, went the general consensus.
And then, the signal to begin fighting was given....
Both girls began to move towards the center of the room. Leelee coolly and cautiously; Lacey, who seemed to be a bundle of nervous energy, practically sprinted.
But for all of her seeming over-exuberance, the brunette had a plan. She knew that the only way she could overcome her rival's size advantage was to go on the offensive, wearing the bigger girl down and making her ripe for defeat. Leelee herself unintentionally aided Lacey's plan, as she decided to wage a largely defensive battle, thus allowing her rival to set the pace.
As the pair came within just a few feet of one another, Lacey unleashed her assault. Unexpectedly, she dove at her foe, smashing into the blonde's right thigh with a shoulder block. Leelee crashed to the carpet, and in an instant, her size advantage was eliminated. In a flash, the brunette was atop her rival, who was flat on her belly.
Lacey grabbed Leelee by her long ponytail and, with malicious glee, began slamming her face again and again into the carpeted floor. The blonde was too stunned to resist as she was painfully smashed in the face again and again. Quickly, she felt a sharp pain in her nose, and the spectators saw the trickle of crimson blood from her nostrils.
Satisfied that her foe was sufficiently dazed, Lacey shifted tactics. Standing up and turning around, she grabbed the blonde by the ankles and leaned backwards, subjecting Leelee to a Boston Crab variation. In this instance, Leelee's long legs were an Achilles Heel of sorts, as the slender gams gave her tormentor the needed leverage to lean back ever further, thus increasing the pain. The blonde pounded her fists helplessly and let out a low moan punctuated every few moments by a sharp yelp. But she refused to surrender. She might not be able to win, but she was determined to get in a few good shots before losing!
Anxious to finish her opponent off and frustrated that this move wasn't accomplishing that, Lacey finally released her victim. She then grabbed Leelee by the hair and pulled her up to her knees in preparation for applying another hold. However, the blonde wasn't about to give her that chance.
Pushing past the pain that raged through her body, Leelee, still kneeling, threw her arms around the brunette in a bearhug. As the blonde's muscular arms tightened their grasp, Lacey squirmed, the began groaning. The vice was inflicting terrible pain to her lower back, and the pain was sapping the brunette teen's power.
Suddenly, Leelee twisted her body, throwing her foe to the floor. The blonde then stood up and, grabbing the brunette by her twin pigtails, she pulled Lacey painfully up to her feet by her hair. Then, displaying her superior strength, Leelee...still holding firmly to the pigtails, began to swing her opponent around and around until her feet left the floor and Lacey literally was flying through the air!
As Leelee released her grip, Lacey sailed several feet through the air like a rag doll before crashing to the carpet. The blonde hovered over her in a heartbeat, and stomped on her rival's belly, which caused Lacey to grunt in pain. Her decision this evening to wear heavy eye mascara now resulted in black trails down her cheeks as it mixed with her involuntary tears.
Brimming with confidence, Leelee again grabbed her opponent by her hair and pulled her up in order to repeat the maneuver. This time, however, the brunette didn't comply quite so easily.
With an air of desperation, Lacey threw her left leg out, her foot connecting squarely with the blonde's crotch. With a howl of agony, Leelee collapsed to the floor and curled into a ball, sobbing through gritted teeth.
Back in control, Lacey landed a kick to the blonde's ribs, then another to her jaw. Leelee's body trembled, but she still refused to quit. That suited Lacey just fine.
The brunette sensed that every spectator was riveted to the battle. A verbal submission would, after all that had happened, be anticlimax. And in Hollywood, that's a cardinal sin.
And so, Lacey was determined to demolish her foe completely. Leelee, too, seemed to sense this as inevitable.
Stretching her hapless opponent prone in a Schoolgirl Pin, Lacey maneuvered herself so that she was able to drop her bosom across the blonde's face. Smothered, Leelee could only groan and squirm feebly. After a little more than a minute, her gasps grew shallow and her body fell slack. She was unconscious.
The fight over, every last ounce of power evaporated from Lacey's body, and she collapsed in a heap atop her beaten rival. Both girls were carried back to their bedrooms and examined by physicians. The joint conclusions were that neither actress had suffered any serious injuries, merely the scratches and bruises to be expected in such a struggle. Leelee also had a broken nose, but it was rather easily set.
By the next morning, the only names on the lips of the industry power brokers were Lacey Chabert and Leelee Sobieski. Producers, directors, and casting supervisors spoke of them in the same tones usually reserved for such "serious" actresses as Meryl Streep and Jodie Foster. (Editors note: at least as serious as Demi Moore and Liz Berkeley?) Every studio immediately sent the girls their top scripts, and every writer in town, it seemed, was suddenly working on proposals to send to the pair.
(Befitting her victory, Lacey was getting more prestige offers than Leelee, but the blonde was hardly wanting for worthy possibilities!)
Ten minutes of brutal combat had transformed them...at least for the moment...into Hollywood's hottest starlets.
But there was a hitch.
As both girls soon discovered, however, in order to maintain their newfound success they were expected to engage in fights with other ambitious young actresses.
The solution had become, in effect, a self-fulfilling prophecy. Never-ending, until Leelee and Lacey decided they'd had enough.
But they haven't had enough just yet....