Perhaps one of Hollywood's most transparent dick-measuring rituals masquerading as friendly, if business-tinged, competition is the industry tennis match, where the Important gather at private residences and pricey clubs to determine whose racquet handle truly requires a two-handed grip, then angrily slap around some fuzzy balls until total physical superiority is proven. This week's NY Observer takes a look at the State Of Tinseltown Tennis, identifying the most exclusive, high-powered games in town and featuring interviews with the business's notable enthusiasts, but we were most struck by this section of the article, in which a description of a once-legendary-but now-in-disrepair court seems a clear stand-in for its once-legendary-beturtlenecked-producer-who's-seen-better-days owner:
The current apex of private aces is the court of legendary producer turned raconteur Robert Evans, next to the blue-tiled, egg-shaped pool at his 1940 French Regency mansion, which was once owned by Greta Garbo. Over the years, Mr. Hoffman, Jack Nicholson, Warren Beatty and Ted Kennedy have all scuffed its surface. (The umpire chair is a gag gift from Mr. Hoffman; apparently, Mr. Evans has been known to take liberty with his line calls.) "I'd be playing there on Friday evenings and see Nicholson or Sumner Redstone come through the gate to go to a screening that Bob was having of the latest studio releases," said one longtime visitor, a producer. Alas, Mr. Evans' screening room burned down in 2003, and since his 1998 stroke he no longer personally hosts his own games. But the court is still open to others seven days a week, and no one seems to mind that it isn't in the spiffiest shape. "It's not very well maintained; it's very uneven," one regular player said. "It's a bit like playing on broken glass."
Transparent metaphors aside, one can hardly fault Evans for not keeping the tennis facilities in better shape; the producer, now in his mid-seventies, is simply prioritizing the upkeep of the area where he gets his daily exercise. You can be sure that none of the freelance exercise companions who drop by to be chased around his waterbed will ever complain that its playing surface is anything less than impeccably maintained.