And so it goes for actress Mackenzie Philips.
The controversial actress-singer-author was in Indianapolis last Friday to adopt a Pug puppy that had been rescued from a downtown Indy rooftop during a recent snowstorm. Seems she has a soft spot in her heart for pugs and heard about this pup-in-need through Kentuckiana Pug Rescue.
Every celebrity this side of Charlie Sheen would be raking in atta-boys for such a good deed. They'd be soaking up 15 more minutes of fame on "TMZ" or "Inside Edition." Get a close-up of Rudy the pug as he nuzzles her neck. Money shot!
But remember, this is Mackenzie Phillips.
You would think Indianapolis might cut her some slack since her old sitcom "One Day at a Time" was set in the Circle City. But mere mention of her pug-rescue mission fired up online respondents on the Indianapolis Star website. She's getting beaten up for past indiscretions of drug use, making money with a tell-all book, a supposed incestuous relationship with her father (singer/songwriter John Phillips) and in general being the poster child for all that is awful in Hollywood. Someone even held her up as a warning to the likes of Miley, Paris, Lindsay, et al, saying Phillips looks like a "worn-out Miley Cyrus," only 30 years older.
And while she has brought a lot of grief upon herself over the years, I don't think this round of criticism is fair. In fact, in a real-life version of an old bit David Letterman called "Brush with Greatness" on his show, my daughters and I actually crossed paths with Mackenzie Phillips one night.
Papa John (Phillips, not the pizza dude) was trying to revive the legendary Mamas and Papas rock group at the time. He was joined in that less-than-successful second act by Scott McKenzie (of "San Francisco ... Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair" fame), Elaine "Spanky" McFarlane (of Spanky and Our Gang/"Sunday Will Never Be the Same" music fame) and, of course, daughter Mackenzie.
One of their first gigs was at the French Lick Springs Hotel, where we were invited to cover the July 1987 event and had a table right in front of the group. That proximity allowed Mackenzie to pluck a five-year-old Nicole from her seat during the show and groove with my youngest in her arms as she sang. Somewhere in the BannerGraphic archives are some sweet black-and-white photos of that moment.
When the show ended, I got to go backstage to interview the foursome. Of course, John Phillips was the big attraction. Yet talking briefly to him, I sensed he wouldn't have known whether he was in French Lick or the French Quarter. Nor likely cared.
After a brief chat with Scott McKenzie, I focused on Mackenzie Phillips in hope of eliciting an interesting comment or two. She was congenial and professional but just not very quotable, so I soon departed without any real captivating remarks to write about.
We headed back to our room initially but decided to check out the hotel renovation-in-progress instead. In the basement of the monstrous old resort we found a bowling alley with half-a-dozen lanes. We decided to spend our spare time fashioning a few strikes when in trooped The Mamas and Papas.
To this day, that moment is referred to by my girls as "that time we bowled with The Mamas and Papas."
Of course, we really just bowled alongside them. And enjoyed the heck out of it, I might add.
No drugs. No booze. No sex. Plenty of rock and roll. And certainly one interesting memory.
Mackenzie Phillips will never have to apologize to us. And she shouldn't get anything but praise for her latest act of kindness in Indy.
Or as another headline-grabber might say: Duh, winning!