You probably don't know Riley Weston. I didn't. I'd seen a picture here, an article there, and eventually figured out that she was one of Hollywood's Wunderkinder, a writer, all of nineteen years old and expected to do Great Things. She was turning out stories — and occasionally appearing in them — for the hotly-hyped college drama Felicity, and Disney had signed her to a six-figure production deal. "It's people like that," Tom Lehrer once grumbled, "who make you realize how little you've accomplished. When Mozart was my age, he had been dead for two years."

Tom Lehrer was thirty-seven at the time, five years older than nineteen-year-old Riley Weston is now. If that doesn't seem to add up, well, what happened is this: Entertainment Tonight, tipped off by someone or other, discovered that "Riley Weston" is in fact Kimberlee Elizabeth Kramer, née Seaman, thirty-two, an actress with not many credits who decided to make a clean break with her past and reinvent herself.

The usual suspects weighed in with wailing and gnashing of teeth, Weston's writing contract expired and was not renewed (though she continues to act on Felicity), and rumors began to swirl that Touchstone Television was about to scrub "Holliman's Way", Weston's first production under the Disney deal. Weston was vaguely apologetic about having pulled the wool over so many eyes, but she was far from contrite. Hollywood, she explains, practically demands this sort of deception: "If I were getting a job in any other industry, do you think anyone would care how old I am or how I look?"

Exactly the point. Hollywood peddles youth the way GM sells Chevrolets or Bill Clinton issues rationalizations: it's simply the way things are, and some things never change. And if there's one thing the teenage demographic hates, it's having to listen to us ancient over-30 types. To the extent that Riley — er, Kimberlee can bridge that particular gap, we should be grateful to her. And we should also be grateful that there will never be a Barbara Walters interview with Riley Weston. Don't ask why.

The Vent

#128
9 December 1998

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 Copyright © 1998 by Charles G. Hill