Cameron Douglas, Michael Douglas' wayward son, is due to be sentenced for dealing meth next week, and a host of well-wishers—including Catherine Zeta-Jones and Pat Riley—have written to his judge explaining just how hard his life has been.
We can't really blame them. Douglas faces a sentence of 10 years in federal prison, according to the New York Post, though his attorneys are angling to reduce that to either the eight months he's already served in jail or a longer stint in a rehab facility. The letters, though—including notes from Cameron's grandfather Kirk Douglas, Jen Gatien (the daughter of tax-dodging nightclub impresario Peter Gatien), and a host of other family and childhood friends—take pains to argue that growing up in a Hollywood dynasty with fabulously wealthy parents and access to the finest schools is a horrible burden that would lead any kid to a life of heroin addiction and petty crime.
From Cameron's attorneys' sentencing memo, which can be read in full here [pdf]:
We're sure there are downsides to being Michael Douglas' son. There are downsides to being anybody's son. And we'd venture that the vast majority of people convicted of drug crimes in this country faced a whole hell of a lot of "isolation and loneliness" during their childhoods, without the compensatory benefits of being ludicrously wealthy. For instance, one of the features of Cameron's not-at-all-entitled upbringing that had him crying in the pillow at night was that he got to hang out with the coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. This is from the letter that former Lakers coach Pat Riley, now the president of the Miami Heat, sent on Cameron's behalf:
Having access to Riley during the 1980s would drive any kid to the needle, right? Another terrible thing about growing up rich and not-entitled in Hollywood is that you have bodyguards. How embarrassing! From a letter written by his childhood friend John RIckard:
Many of the letters pinpoint the beginning of Cameron's downfall to his father's decision to send him to an unnamed "East Coast boarding school"—the same one Michael Douglas attended—where he fell in with a bad crowd. From a letter written by a friend of Cameron's mother, Diandra De Morrell Douglas:
According to Wikipedia, Michael Douglas graduated from the Eaglebrook School in Deerfield, Mass. Other prominent alumni include Scooter Libby and King Abdullah II of Jordan. What kind of parent would send their child to a place like that! How could anyone expect it to lead to anything other than a life of crime and drugs? UPDATE: Eaglebrook claims him as an alum, but a reader points out that Douglas has also said he went to Choate. He could have gone to both at one time or another.
We suppose that everyone who ends up in Cameron's situation has specific reasons for being there, and every life is screwed up in its own way, and material wealth and connections and privilege are no substitutes for a stable and loving family. And Cameron's mother was an absolute monster, according to her own friend:
But money and fame and opportunity and elite boarding schools are supposed to be reasons not to end up a junkie, not excuses for it. This note from Cameron's grandfather was sort of heartbreaking, though:
The letter from his stepmother, Catherin Zeta-Jones, though handwritten, was oddly unsentimental: