She just couldn’t fall asleep. The past few days felt like a nightmare fairy tale—first the nasty business with the Merry-Go-Round drummer, Mange, then the damning tabloid headlines that followed a rather unflattering view of her body tossed over Zach Rohnan’s shoulder in the hallway of the downtown Denver hotel. Tomorrow would be her first day back on the air since it all happened and after Cheryl Potter’s phone call earlier that evening, Starr now knew she had a Denver Post article to look forward to as well. It kind of irritated her that the paper would contact the station’s PR coordinator before actually attempting to reach her directly, which they still had not done. And yet this article was supposed to run in the Monday morning edition.
“Look, honey, you had to expect this… If it wasn’t for your status here as a local celebrity, a story like this would never make it past the scandal sheets. But you are kind of a big deal in this town. Like it or not there is a name-brand recognition that comes on the station as a result of your show’s popularity. The best thing to do is get in front of this and in a week or two, it’ll all blow over,” Cheryl assured her from the other end of the line.
“Yeah, well, I caught the TMZ rebroadcast at 2 a.m. this morning. Not too entertaining when Harvey Levin and Charles are referring to me as ‘the number one party girl of the Denver airwaves!’” Starr replied hotly. And laying there in bed, trying to force her mind to relax and welcome the sleep her worn body so acutely needed, she watched the broadcast yet again as it played through her mind like a DVR recording.
“And the latest scandal for the bad-boy rockers of Merry-Go-Round is that Zachariah Rohnan, the lead singer for IED, the headlining band on the tour, has kicked Merry-Go-Round off the tour! And it seems to be because of this little starlet, Harvey. Tony, our cameraman has more on this breaking story…” At this point the cameras in the studios cut from the two TMZ hosts to a pudgy-looking overgrown teenager who continued with the rest of details.
“Charles, you should have seen it! Well, duh, you can see what I captured on tape but that’s just Rohnan flinging the little hottie over his shoulder caveman style. The shot I really blew was the one of Rohnan nailing Mange with a slam-dunk fist cheekbone to nose that sent him whooshing to the floor. I was only able to get the spewing blood covering the downed artist’s tee shirt as the IED lead singer took off with the girl.” And here Harvey intercepted the hand-off.
“What’s really turned out to being interesting, Tony, is that the ‘hottie’ is none other than the number one party girl of the Denver airwaves, Starr Jennings, or Superstar as she’s known on the radio. The country at large may not know this young DJ, but to those in metropolitan Denver, she’s quite well-known with billboards and bus posters all over the place.”
“She seems pretty wasted here, Harvey. And that’s kind of surprising since Zach Rohnan isn’t known for a scandalous love life. We’ve yet to see a story about him from any of the IED groupies,” Charles observed in a speculative tone. “Sources inside that after-party from the concert Friday night claim she was smoking some hand rolled cigarettes, if ya know what I mean. But hey, it Colorado so pot’s not really a big deal there.”
And that was about it for the gossip about her. Now tomorrow, on air, she would reap the fallout. Somehow she finally managed to drift off to sleep despite the dread that lay upon her like an elephant on her chest.
She nearly jumped a mile as she got out of her car at the station, because no sooner had she closed her door than a man approached her.
“Starr Jennings?” he asked abruptly.
“Ah, yes?” she replied hesitantly.
Slapping a piece of folded paper against her chest he told her, “You’ve just been served.”
“What the fu…?” she puzzled. But she didn’t hang around because like her house she’d left with some difficulty this afternoon, she began to see flash bulbs going off in the corner of her eyes as reporters yelled at her.
“Is it true you got Mange kicked out of Merry-Go-Round? That he’s suing you and Zach Rohnan for defamation of character?”
“How long have you and Rohnan been involved?”
“How long were you and Mange involved?”
She was thankful that security was enforcing the visitor code in the parking lot. They weren’t instructed to do so very often, usually only when a big artist was expected at the station. She’d never suspected that such controversy would result from the incident over the weekend. But she was angry, too. Hurrying toward the building so she could fully read the summons that had been shoved at her in some relative privacy was her first priority. Ignoring the questions being shouted at her from behind the vertical wrought-iron bars of the entrance gates to the parking lot, she paused only once before entering.
“Groupie slut!” came from the crowd. She whipped her head around to scan where the source of that insult came from but only succeeded in giving the paparazzi a clear shot at her troubled countenance.
Any thought of privacy disappeared as Cheryl Potter came rushing up to her. “The PTB’s want to see you upstairs in the conference room.”
It never boded well when the Powers That Be were calling you before them. A military tribunal was often more pleasant.
“So it’s true?” Starr asked furiously. “That asshole is trying to sue me after he ruffied me? Unfuckingbelievable!” she spat as she hurried along to keep up with Cheryl’s brisk pace.
“That’s not even the best part,” she replied ominously.
“What the fuck? You can’t leave me hanging!”
“The little limey prick is suing the station as well.” But Starr had no time to answer as the two women came up to the conference room doors. Knocking quickly, Cheryl opened them and they were “welcomed” in.
Starr knew almost everyone there. The local sales manager, Brent Jackson, was there; the national sales manager, Whit Cumby, was there, and of course the GSM, Carey Reynolds and GM, Greta Jimenez were all present. These were people she was used to seeing pretty much every day. But there were three others, two women and a man, she did not recognize. Greta stood up and made the introductions.
“Starr, I would like you to meet our corporate FCC liaison, Tamara Worth and the Vice President of West Coast Operations for Carmel Communications, our corporate owner, Jebediah Stone. And this is Sharon Price, the head corporate lawyer.”
Fortunately, during her career at KSTR, she’d never been the subject of a corporate spin cycle but looking at the somber faces of those she was feeling very confronted by as she shook hands with the lot of them, she understood now why some whispered it was like a tribunal. It was quite intimidating.
“Ms. Jennings, Starr, please take a seat. And call me Jeb.”
An hour and a half later she was back in her car, driving home, on paid “vacation” for at least two weeks. Not that the station was holding her responsible for the scandal. Oh, no. Not that at all! The corporate attorney was very clear as she explained that even if Starr came out with the GHB details, it would still boil down to a matter of she-said-he-said which she thought was total bullshit. After all, there were witnesses… well, sort of. Witnesses to the actually drugging of her cocktail? The lawyer had grilled. Not exactly, was her response.
As with every media personality, there’s always a threat when one takes a leave from their show that people might like the replacement better. Or as much. She herself thought Jon Oliver was a great stand in for Jon Stewart on The Daily Show over the past summer. But both Carey and Greta told her that her show would go on rotation amongst several other station personalities so there wouldn’t even be speculation that she’d be back. So caught up was she with her musings that she almost ran a red like and had to slam on her brakes. Her window was down and suddenly she heard a mocking voice yell out to her.
“Smoking a bit much or driving a bit soon?” She shot a dirty look and the finger at the teenagers in the car next to her.
“OMG it’s Superstar! Quick get a picture!”
Great! she thought. Wonder what tabloid that will end up in.
Sorry for the long delay, peeps. My son graduated from boot camp on the 20th and then all the holiday bs came tumbling down. Anyway, looking forward to your comments and suggestions. Sempre Fi!!