Page 45 of The F List

It wasn’t my business. In fact, now that I had stepped in with Marissa, my “job” here was done. I could go for a run and get some fresh air, away from cameras, publicists, and people. I shouldn’t have an opinion on Emma’s bikini or lack of one but still… I hesitated, then strode over to the group.

I gently closed my hand around Emma’s elbow and pulled, catching her attention. “Can I borrow you for a minute?”

The group paused. Emma nodded. “Yeah, sure.” She followed me through the crowd of reality and milk crews and over to a quiet spot by a potted palm tree.

“I know that bit about the phone message was staged, but if you do want to get signed by Vision Placements, or by any big talent agency, don’t do this.”

“Don’t do the milk ad?” She raised an eyebrow in skepticism.

“Don’t do it naked. You’ve never been that girl, and you shouldn’t start now.”

“What kind of girl have I been?” With anyone else, the tone would have been confrontational. For her, it was mild. Almost curious.

“Smarter than that,” I managed. And it was true. Her activities were annoying, her videos offensive to everyone they mentioned, but she was intelligently calculated in all of it. She didn’t need the shock value of a nude milk ad, no matter how tastefully they did it. She could just open her mouth and create a similar sensation.

She chewed on her thumbnail and studied the pool.

“You can’t undo it,” I said carefully. “Once it’s done, it’s there. Forever.”

Her gaze came back to mine. “Okay,” she said quietly.

Relief swept through me. “Okay?” I repeated. “You won’t do it?”

“You think I shouldn’t, right?” she confirmed.

“I don’t.”

She shrugged, and her hand dropped from her mouth. “That’s all I needed to know.”

I wanted to hug her but kept my hands to myself. “Okay. Good.”

Dana passed, and Emma darted to one side, snagging the producer by the sleeve. “Hey, about the nudity—”

“Yes?” Dana paused, and her attention darted from Emma to me, then ricocheted back to Emma. Like leeches to blood, a handful of crew and assistants sucked in.

“I’ll do it on one condition. You get him and everyone else off set.” Emma pointed to me. “Just me, Layton and the milk people.”

What the…? We had just discussed this. I had given her strong advice, and probably the only she would receive that was untainted by personal agenda. She shouldn’t pose naked. Was above it. And that was a difficult thing for me to say, given the opinion I’ve carried of her for a very, very long time. But I was starting to think, or had thought, that there was something more to her. Something more than just numbers and shock value. A person beneath all of the hype—the person that had blushed at me behind a set of crooked teeth five years ago.

I had been wrong. She—this was bullshit, and she had just absolutely toyed with me. That whole shy smile, you think that’s what I should do act… it had been a game, and I had fallen for it.

“You heard the woman,” Dana chirped. “We need a closed set, NOW.”

Well, screw this and screw her. I turned and strode out of the backyard before I made a scene.

“God, the press loved the leak about that milk shoot argument. The next morning, every tabloid had an article about Emma’s initial refusal to do the nudity, and a did-she or didn’t-she guessing game with crew quotes and some covert behind-the-scenes shots. No one knew if she’d bared it all or not and a few of the magazines ran a timeline of every time she had shown any skin at all. All that, of course, was fed to them by her team. They had Twitter laying bets on whether she’d stripped down. By the time the print ad released—and there was an honest-to-god countdown to it—people were even asking if Layton was nude. Half of America was thinking they were mid-thrust with milk glasses in hand and the other half insisting that Emma was the Virgin Mary.

Milk ads are boring, right? But that was the genius of Emma. She made ordinary events newsworthy, and we filmed it all for the show.”

Glorya Lane, Prod Assistant, House of Fame

“Emma said whatever she said in earshot of the crew—but there was a reason she wanted a closed set, and it wasn’t to protect her nudity. It was the opposite. She didn’t want anyone to know—not until the ad ran—that she was fully clothed in it. Flannel shirt, cut off shorts, and that milk mustache. I laughed when I flipped open USA Today and saw that shot because it was the perfect F you to everyone. And to this day, that is the most famous dairy ad on the planet. Probably the most famous ad that year.”