Julia Phillips, author of one of the most scathing Hollywood memoirs in history, is sitting in her hotel suite with its drop-dead view of Central Park, deciding which talk shows to do.
Larry King is a favorite. But David Letterman?"I'm not sure I feel like sparring with him for 20 minutes," said Phillips, 46, dressed all in black with a spiky, grayish crew cut. "Not that I'm not up to it. I used to handle 10 guys like Letterman before breakfast."
Yikes! It's Julia Phillips, Hollywood's one-time girl wonder producer turned whistleblower, living up to her reputation as the toughest cookie on the Coast.
Her book, "You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again," chronicles her cocaine-fueled descent from Academy Award-winning producer to drug addict and Hollywood pariah. It skewers some of the town's most sacred cows and spares no one, especially Phillips herself.
After less than a month, the book is in its fourth printing. Initial copies sold out in Los Angeles.
In the media blitz that has followed, Phillips has been painted as a brittle viper, a bitter ex-druggie out to get those who did her in. But many of those accounts miss the charm and energy that she admits helped her succeed in Hollywood's old-boy network. Phillips is tough but likable.
In the old days, she compulsively free-based cocaine and had sex indiscriminately. She still chain-smokes but has been drug free since 1980 and celibate for three years. She drinks 10 glasses of water a day and jumps on an exercise bike four times each day. She even has one in her hotel room.
But she still turns on the charm - even with the photographer taking her picture.
"Oh, you have the ultimate perfect glasses," she tells him while posing for two rolls of film.
When the photographer says he's worried about his new haircut, she assures him, "I think it's a very good move for you. It's going to look very good in a couple of days. Very '90s." It's clear; he's hooked.
Phillips' charm is not as apparent in her book, which has offended many industry powers.
Supermogul David Geffen, described in the book as "having a puffed-out face . . . which makes him (resemble) a middle-aged baby," responded by firing Phillips from a coveted producing job, her first in years. She says she's no longer welcome in certain Los Angeles industry restaurants, such as Morton's.
But readers and reviewers, perhaps tired of a steady diet of celebrity worship, have delighted in the nasty tidbits peppered throughout the book - especially the parts describing Goldie Hawn's alleged lack of hygiene and "dirty hair."
"If one more person asks me about the Goldie thing, I'm gonna scream!' shrieks Phillips as she reaches for a cigarette.
But Phillips maintains that she struck a nerve in the book others are afraid to acknowledge. The creative side of the business, she says, has been usurped by businessmen.
"After the book came out, I got all these calls from writers and directors thanking me because they feel so crushed by this new corporate fascist process," Phillips said.
It's a long way from 1973, when she won an Oscar, along with her then-husband Michael Phillips and Tony Bill, for producing "The Sting." At the time, Phillips was the ultimate Hollywood insider.
Such friends as Hawn, Robert Redford, Steven Spielberg and Joan Didion were fixtures at the parties she and her former husband threw at their Malibu beach house.
At the height of her career, having produced "The Sting," "Taxi Driver" and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," Phillips made between $7 million and $10 million. But her fortune went fast: She was addicted to cocaine and spent as much as $60,000 a month on the drug.
"I allowed myself to get my head turned," said Phillips, who was stoned the night she accepted her Oscar. "It all came too fast. It was like we hadn't earned it."
Phillips claims she was at first encouraged by powerful men in Hollywood who saw her as a kind of "human pet."
"When I grew up, I threatened them," she said.
During the 1980s, Phillips said, she straightened out and became a good mother to her daughter, Kate, now 17. But she found that "my guys" from the previous decade in Hollywood had gone, replaced by a new bottom-line crowd.
She found it hard to get a producing job and decided to write her book after years of encouragement from her friend, Joni Evans, then a key figure at Random House, which published the tome.
"I did it because I wanted a new career," she said. "And it was cathartic."
Phillips has already started her second book, a novel about Hollywood. She professes not to care if "You'll Never Eat Lunch . . . " is optioned by the movies. But she knows that if the book is a hit, all could be forgiven.
"But you know, I was talking to (actress) Teri Garr the other day and she was telling me, `they're all saying one thing,' " said Phillips gleefully. " `They're not saying she's gone, they're saying she's back!' "