If you’re famous, keep shtum around the staff

Rob LoweIt is every celeb’s nightmare: Rob Lowe has hit the headlines with his $3 million lawsuits against a “blackmail” plot by two nannies and a former chef, allegedly seeking to extort $1.5 million from him. In response, Lowe has also accused them of wild behaviour, namely sex and drugs, in his California and London houses.

All rich people are, unquestionably, a target for financially desperate former employees. But people like Lowe do not hire people without references. In New York, certainly, you don’t have anyone in your house without a background check, performed by the agency through which you hire your staff. Even so, there can be slip-ups.

I once found myself interviewing a nanny who had previously worked for a famous model. As she was leaving, she told me she’d served some jail time a few years previously – for drugs smuggling – but now that was all over, and God was with her.

I thanked her for her honesty and shut the door.

I decided, despite God being with her, not to hire her, given that there are great nannies out there who have not been to jail. But I was intrigued that the model, who knew of the sentence, had taken her on.

If you are famous, you are likely to be so busy that the question of who you let in your door to nanny or clean can be more intuitive than anything else. You tend to override references and just go with your gut. What you have no idea of is just how this person speaks of you outside work.

Often I think celebrities may not realise how much they are deified by the people who work for them. One famous friend of mine, who is unusually self-aware, teasingly refers to staff and close friends as his “yes people”. When the relationship ends, the resentment on the employee’s part can be like that of a broken-hearted lover whose only consolation may be lashing out with a lurid tell-all. The butler to novelist Danielle Steel did it; the former assistant to Vogue editor Anna Wintour did it in fictional form.

Recently I’ve become acquainted with someone who works for a famous actress. The assistant can barely talk about anything other than her boss. I know how many shoes the star owns, her love affairs, her mood swings. What, I thought, is the actress thinking, confiding so much to this person?

So what was Rob Lowe thinking? Probably he wasn’t.V

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