What's a girl to do when she's about to graduate from high school and hasn't a clue about the future? That's frustrating and also embarrassing as a listing of the seniors' after graduation plans were posted in the school hallway. Suzanne Hansen didn't want white space after her name so she enrolled in nanny school. She put NNI after Hansen on the roster and hoped it would be thought of as a college rather than Northwest Nannies Institute.
Nannying seemed like a good choice. Hansen loved children and she had been babysitting for as long as she could remember. After all, there hadn't been a great deal to do in Cottage Grove, Oregon, "where the highlight of a typical resident's week was bingo at the Elk's Lodge." Now, she would soon be off to Portland, home of the Institute. Little did she know that after four months she'd be winging it to Tinseltown where she would interview with people who had more money than she knew existed and win a job as nanny for super agent Michael Ovitz, arguably the most powerful man in Hollywood. Once on staff she quickly learned that nannying for the stars wasn't as heavenly as she had imagined.
Evidently the prospect of such a glamorous existence dulled Hansen's senses as she forgot NNI's cardinal rule, which was to have a written agreement about the salary, hours and overtime rates before accepting a position. Thus, she found herself working 24/7 with no overtime.
Truth be told, mxing Hansen with Michael and Judy Ovitz and their three offspring was a bit like trying to blend oil and water. Almost from day one Hansen was convinced that Judy didn't like her and that there was nothing in the world she could do to win favor. Eldest child Josh didn't like her either and was given to tantrums, while middle child Amanda seemed to be aping her brother's demeanor.
For the first few months the sheer excitement of picking up the phone and hearing the voice of Bill Murray or Dustin Hoffman or Tom Cruise buoyed Hansen's homesickness and workload. But, eventually, she decided that she had to leave the Ovitzes, hopefully for a more sanguine, less demanding household. She soon discovered that no one just left Ovitz or as it was put "inconvenienced" him. She found herself blackballed by the mightiest of the mighty in La-La-Land. Reading that Paul Newman had once described Ovitz as "a cross between a barracuda and Mother Teresa," she totally agreed.
Eventually, she found a place with Debra Winger who had also jumped the Ovitz ship. Her tenure there, while enjoyable, was short lived as Winger wanted to be a real hands-on mom. Next, Hansen nannyed for Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman. She loved them both, found them to be down-to-earth, thoughtful, and kind. However, Hollywood had taken its toll on her and she wanted to go back home. A Mary Poppins she was not.
If you're looking for some really hot skinny in this "tell-all," you'll be disappointed. We do learn that Tom Cruise's real name is Mapother, that Debra Winger didn't enjoy working with Richard Gere, and that Goldie Hawn leads her kids in sing-a-longs on plane trips.
Hansen kept a journal so what readers will find is a day by day account of a nanny's life among the rich and catered to. It's a breezy read plus entree to some of Hollywood's plushest mansions as well as the author's take on those who dwell within.
- Gail Cooke
on 31 July 2007
After I finished 'You'll Never Nanny in This Town Again', I wondered if the true purpose of this book was to give a raspberry (or the finger) to her first employer (Michael Ovitz) and have the last word. Although it was, at times, clever and witty, I found Suzanne Hansen to be a bit self-promoting, and she was definitely still resentful of the Ovitzes, even though it has been many years. I have no doubt the Ovitzes were condescending and indifferent, but it seemed there was nothing they did that went unmentioned by Suzanne Hansen as proof of their implacability (especially concerning the wife, Judy). Her love of their children was her excuse for not quitting, but this caused her to end up resenting the children as well as the parents. She painted many people in an unflattering light in this book, including her ex-boyfriend and some of the other domestic help at her various places of nannying, and even though she gave kudos to Debra Winger for actually raising her child without a nanny and Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman for being decent human beings, she always had to have at least one negative anecdotal story about them so that even nice people don't seem too nice in Hollywood. The book seemed a bit disorganized at first, and because her nannying days were in the '80s, it really felt dated. Suzanne Hansen was sometimes irreverent and self-deprecating, and that made for some hilarious moments, so it wasn't terrible, but it wasn't fantastic either. I found 'You'll Never Nanny in This Town Again' to be entertaining and a bit fun, but for light-hearted reading, there are some better choices out there.