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Photo by Scott NathanScott Nathan lives just north of Hollywood Boulevard, in a nondescript, 40-unit pink stucco building owned by a friend. His two-bedroom apartment, which he describes as very “bachelor,” features a lot of heavy ashtrays and stacks of magazines; a painting of Bijou Phillips’ grandmother, which the actress traded him for a laptop; a fully stocked kitchen of fancy cookware (“My aunt has worked for Crate & Barrel since the beginning of time”); and “one good piece of furniture,” his 1940s leather couch.
Tons of his own photography is propped against the wall and he has a couple of paintings by a former roommate/professional model, who likes to paint using her naked body as a brush. She also gave him a portrait of herself standing on her head naked, which she painted in his apartment, while standing on her head naked.
The way Nathan figures it, even if he doesn’t end up rich and famous, the life he leads from this apartment is already a hell of a lot more interesting than it would have been if he had stayed back in Chicago and married the first girl who said yes. That said, he hopes his epitaph doesn’t read: “He was thisclose.”
While he waits for his big break, Nathan likes to be around people who are living the dream — as he calls them, “big kids who get to do their jobs that are fun.” Meaning, people who get paid lots of money for working creative jobs. Or the chosen people, whose “vacation is their vocation.”
“If you surround yourself with success, you are more apt to be successful,” Nathan explains. “You hang around losers and slackers who don’t have jobs, your drive starts to decline.”
He’s been to the Playboy Mansion more than once, designed a Web site for Jenna Jameson and been to a lot of the same parties as Paris Hilton. Like a modern-day Forrest Gump — a friend first made the comparison, but Nathan thought it was funny and started using it himself — he seems to be everywhere. If everywhere means Hollywood parties, clubs, store/spa openings or the Whiskey Bar, and not because he wants to “schmooze and meet people.” For him, it’s about “being around the energy.”
The 30-something, 6-foot-tall redhead has been hanging around the energy for a long time. Back in Chicago, during the days when “everyone was getting signed” to record deals — the Smashing Pumpkins, Liz Phair and Urge Overkill — Nathan had a scouting job for a publishing affiliate of Warner Chappell. Since then, he has done a lot of other things. He was a computer-network designer and consultant for the studios and production companies, and for Hollywood big shots like Nic Cage and Sid Sheinberg. He ran digital equipment at Davis Factor’s photo studio, in exchange for Factor’s tutelage in photography, and he has a Web-site company. He also books about five or six commercials a year as an actor “to keep up the SAG insurance.”
He knows a lot of people, like the guys in Maroon 5, Bijou Phillips and a couple of rich business men. And occasionally he tries to put his friends together to see if business sparks fly and he might get a piece of the action. Potential deals — and fashion models, for that matter — he explains, are like popcorn kernels in a pan: “You never know which ones are gonna pop.”
In fact, it appears that back in the ’90s he was the one who introduced Leonardo DiCaprio to producer Charles Evans Jr., who owned the rights to the Howard Hughes book, HowardHughes:TheUntoldStory.At the time, Nathan, who was buddies with DiCaprio’s then-girlfriend, worked as a computer consultant for Evans Jr. and asked to read the Hughes book “just for fun.” After, he asked Evans Jr. what the producer would give him if he could bring him a name star.
Evans Jr., who himself made headlines fighting to keep his name on the project that became TheAviatorand even to get photo ops at the Golden Globe Awards, confirms that Nathan was the one who gave him DiCaprio’s cell-phone number, which the producer ultimately used to contact the actor.
But Nathan, who has a way of making everything sound as if it were a folksy happenstance, says he did more than that. First, he told DiCaprio’s girlfriend how great the book was. So she read it. And to hear him say it, she, like a present-day Scheherezade, started telling DiCaprio about Hughes and the book and the movie. The rest is controversial Academy Award history.
(In interviews, DiCaprio cites a longtime interest in Hughes and credits director/producer Michael Mann with getting him involved in the project, but Nathan did end up getting a little money from Evans Jr., and Evans Jr. retains a producer credit on the film.)
More recently, Nathan, still with an eye on the big finder’s-fee or commission dream, introduced a rich Canadian to another producer friend over a game of golf. The producer promised to “take care of him” if anything comes of it. And not long ago, Nathan was asked if he knew any potential buyers for a painting by the expatriate American portraitist and impressionist John Singer Sargent, which he says is going for $7 million to $10 million.