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Hollywood’s Brat Pack

And this is why Estevez’s best friend, Tom Cruise, is so hot these days—and why he can afford to be perhaps the biggest Brat of all, at least insofar as the movie industry is concerned. He broke out of the pack with Risky Business and can now command not only a colossal salary but such perks as casting approval and script consultation, things bigger stars couldn’t dream of getting a decade ago.

Cruise, Hutton, and now Estevez, with his plans to be a screenwriter-director, all stand as inspiration to junior members of the Brat Pack yearning for a place in the sun, for the clout to pick and choose among the hundreds of parts now available for actors under the age of 25. They are competing, too, for the attention the media has heaped upon the Brat Packers; and it is no coincidence that Estevez and Cruise share the same press agent, Andrea Jaffe of the PMK agency, who guards their reputations with the same zealous fervor she devotes to such elder clients as Farrah Fawcett—keeping their reputations clean but also keeping them hot.

“This word ‘hot,’” says Judd Nelson, who switched just recently to PMK. “‘Hot.’ ‘Hot’! You can be ‘hot’ and be a shamelessly poor actor. It’s possible, now it’s possible to be at the top for half a second and then disappear. It’s such a strange thing, to try to build a career on this heat.”

And yet that is precisely what they do. For actors so imbued with the ensemble spirit, the Brat Pack members are out for themselves. “Sean is crazy with all of his role preparations, becoming the character in every way,” one says. And of Andrew McCarthy, one of the New York-based actors in St. Elmo’s Fire, a co-star says, “He plays all his roles with too much of the same intensity. I don’t think he’ll make it.” The Brat Packers save their praise for themselves.

The crowds had arrived at the Hard Rock. It was about 11 P.M., and the Brat Pack was in full swing—on their fifth or sixth round of Coronas, and their ninth or tenth round of toasts. The small circle of stars had expanded to include several young actors of their acquaintance, not to mention the dozens of girls who continued to hover near the table.

One of the young actors was Clayton Rohner. He seemed to have most of the credentials necessary to join the Brat Pack: the kind of looks, attitude, and presence that suggested acting talent. He seemed especially ebullient—and the reason, no doubt, was that he was celebrating his first starring role in a movie, something that might bring him closer to the exalted status of his friends. But the film, called Just One of the Guys, didn’t fit into the same league as The Breakfast Club—it was merely another teen exploitation flick, perhaps a little better than average, but still not up to par with those of the Brats.

And so, when a young girl of about sixteen approached him with a pen and slip of paper, asking him for an autograph, Rohner looked immediately at his more famous friends with a skeptical grin. “One of you put her up to this, right?” he asked. They all smiled and denied it. “C’mon,” he said, looking at the girl. “One of these guys told you to do this. Which one? I know one of them did.” But the girl looked back at Rohner with that special look, the puppy-dog gaze of a groupie who has finally come face-to-face with her fantasy. “Please,” she said, thrusting the piece of paper ever closer to him. He took the pen and, with a flourish, signed his name for the girl. As he finished, he looked up again at the members of the Brat Pack. “I know you guys made her do this,” he said.

But the Brat Packers just shook their heads and watched, without the trace of a smile, and suddenly it was clear that they were as surprised as he was to see the girl leave the table with his autograph, smiling to herself, not bothering to get theirs too.