New York Skyline August 2011

Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images

I had been living in Los Angeles for five years when the events of 9/11 struck, after having lived in New York for nearly a dozen years. I wrote then about the devastation we were all experiencing, particularly those who were directly affected. It was a truly horrible time, the worst I can ever remember.

But the past 10 years has given me a different perspective:

My friends who still reside in New York rallied like I had never seen before. They not only survived, they flourished. They certainly haven't forgotten what happened a decade ago (they never will), but their lives are stronger for it.

And that's what I like best about being a New Yorker: You keep on keeping on.

It's a quality that remains in my makeup, and it's thoroughly enriched my life here in L.A.

Therefore, I choose 9/11/11 to declare the top four lessons I learned in New York as applied to Hollywood:

4. Grace Wins Out: When Jesse James cheated on Sandra Bullock, the world was universally lamenting the crappy behavior the Oscar winner was exposed to. But Sandra moved on—quietly, gracefully, in the face of great humiliation and strife—while everyone watched and poked and gawked. That was a very New York move on her part, I like to think. She was steadfast, strong and even had to guts to crack a couple of jokes later on.

3. It's OK to Cry: Generally, I am not a fan. Hollywood's a fabulous business I adore (truly). But it's a job. I really don't go ga-ga over stars, my voice never trembles when talking to them. It's fun stuff but not the end of world, honey. That said, I need to say I started tearing up the day Elizabeth Taylor died—and it's OK to admit. Elizabeth was a friend. She was a trouper. She was a legend. Her best qualities were so like that of a typical New Yorker: tough, gorgeous, in your face and incredibly sweet and friendly.

2. Losers Get Karma in the End: Racist, misogynistic Mel Gibson is laughably trying to come back, and it will pathetically and eventually probably work—the public has astonishingly short memories (something Arnold Schwarzenegger's banking on, too). But the point is, one of the world's most handsome and successful movie stars is now an impressively homely man. He wears those evils deeds on his face, every day.

1. Be different. Be Loud: This should be a list of five things, but since when do New Yorkers follow rules? Joan Rivers, you'll remember, started telling 9/11 shortly after the disaster. Alec Baldwin says eff you to half the world (love that about him, just not when it's to his daughter, ya know?). And Madonna—though Michigan-born—wrote the book on becoming notorious, via Manhattan, and a whole lot more. Plus, there's Cristina Aguilera and Jennifer Lopez? Could you imagine telling either of those broads what to do, or that they're not doing it right?


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