It is the vocational life-saver offered in the sales literature of three-out-of-three film schools in Southern California, the perky, never-say-die advice of every out-of-work acting coach and failed screenwriter in town: "Jump-start your career!" is their Mademoiselle-y panacea. It suggests that with enough upbeat objectivity about your phone not ringing, you can rise above the professional malaise in which you find yourself and be rejuvenated!

It implies what it is, that the symbolic automobile that is your career trajectory has stalled, the battery is dead, it's starting to rain and you're hungry. By definition you need a jump-start. And if it takes a greasy stranger with cables in his trunk, fitting metal clips to your battery and running them back to his rusted-out Plymouth Dangerado, then so be it. Triple A. A.A. Who gives a damn. Fix me.

In Hollywood, the graphic picture painted above is particularly apropos (as anyone who has bumped into Jennifer Tilly at a party can testify). Some in Hollywood have made a career out of needing a jump-start. Some work overtime to make sure they never appear to. But "Who's hot" and "Who's cold" is just one People headline away from "Who's alive" and "Who's dead," so the image of keeping one's bankable batteries fully charged is on everybody's mind.

If you don't know whether or not your career in Hollywood needs a jolt, here's an easy-to-follow test:

ANSWER "YES" OR "NO" TO THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS

1. I have recently been within fifty feet of Molly Ringwald.

2. My script has recently been within fifty feet of Slyvester Stallone.

3. My "day job" involves the supply end of the food services industry.

4. My "day job" involves playing in Keanu Reeves' band.

5. I have switched agents more than four times in four years.

-more than four times in one year.

-more than four times since lunch.

6. I see a huge future in the Internet.

7. I took Amy Irving's side in the divorce.

8. My last name is Van Patten.

If you answered YES to THREE or more of these questions then Die Hard is not just a good movie title it is a reliable product made by Sears and you need to buy a new one. If you answered YES to FOUR or more questions, it may be too late for a jump-start, try embalming. If you answered YES to FIVE or more questions, it IS too late. You ARE a Van Patten.

To those who have suddenly realized their need for roadside service, I suggest that you eschew the standard means of "jump-starting" so many people advise and do it... the Here in Hollywood way! For while the tried-and-true methods, such as buying the rights to someone's life story or even making your own movie, are good, they don't involve the wit, the sneakiness, the inside-out logic that Hollywood, as a whole, really appreciates. I therefore offer the following:

CLAIM TO HAVE BEEN IN DINER

Every year another actor reveals that he or she was in the Barry Levinson classic. But does anyone check to make sure their assertion is true? So go ahead and make up a part for yourself. You were that character who always talked about Bewitched. You'd be surprised how many people remember you!

PICK A FIGHT WITH COURTNEY LOVE

One of the best ways to get your name in the news is to have a public row with a high-profile celebrity. No one is moreso, or more lady-like in her willingness to assist you in your need, than rocker/actress/etiquette advisor Courtney Love. But what could one possibly say to her that would agitate this genteel soul? You might try "Hello." Or up the ante by referring to her as "Hollywood's answer to Tonya Harding." Ouch! Before you know it, like a rabid weasel charging out of its den, she will rip you to shreds in the press and remind everyone that you are still alive - for now.

SLEEP WITH SOMEBODY AND/OR MARRY THEM

Where would the careers of such luminaries as Lauren Holly be without the waft of potential sexual congress? The list is long and venerable of women and men who have used their naughty parts to get better ones, not to mention cash and lovely parting gifts once the divorce is final. Point is, if you have the goods, use ‘em, and woe to those who don't steer clear of someone whose "favorite car" is a Brinks truck.

THREATEN TO WRITE A TELL-ALL BOOK

My publicist pal, Murray the PMK, informs me that the axiom "there's no such thing as bad publicity" still holds. What's wrong with getting some, and a little dinero, by turning those true stories about yourself and others into a celebrity roast-o-rama. Once you announce your plans, you'd be amazed at who calls up to discuss that project you thought was dead in order to keep your idle hands working on a less "high-profile" endeavor. So try to use it all! Remember: "No news is news without you in it" and that is always bad.

THAT VIDEO OF YOU AND PAMELA ANDERSON IS MISSING!

Who cares if you've never even met her, we all know it's possible! And the fact that it's M.I.A. is your best defense - who can be sure until it's found? (See how easy?!)

RE-HAB, RE-HAB, RE-HAB!

One of the fastest, easiest and most "sincere" ways to jump-start one's career is to admit you've had a "substance-abuse" problem. It doesn't matter what your sin was either: picked a bad sit-com? Starred in a loser film? Aimed your Porsche at a telephone pole to avoid hitting "a deer"? It's not your fault, you were drunk! And the nightmarish stories of being turned away at Morton's or disinvited to high-profile parties make for wonderful, heartfelt confessions on E.T. This is especially so if it all happened before age twelve!

AND THEN THERE ARE... THE CHILDREN

One of the best ways to gain visibility during a career slump is to get a nice charity to front. There's nothing like trading whatever image you left have for a permanent gig involving fund raising, gala balls and the repetitive borrowing of Harry Winston jewelry. But be sure to pick your disease wisely; the last thing you need is to be National Incontinence Chairperson. You know..."the heartbreak of PU?"

FINAL THOUGHTS

And so, as we start up our motors once more and head off onto Sunset Boulevard, we are happily re-charged. Now keep a diary of how many times you change your oil and get those tires rotated... you never know when you might need it.