Longform

Legally Brown

Page 6 of 8

Suzanne pauses, when asked Jack's opinion of Legally Blonde.

She finally says, "He thought it was funny. His view of the law was a little different than hers."

Amanda did make one friend at Stanford Law School, a brunette named Alexis Bircoll who was an academic star of the class and the inspiration for the character Eugenia (Elle nicknames her "Eugenius"), who didn't make it from the book to the movie. Now married, blonde and living in Los Angeles -- and not practicing law -- Alexis Bircoll Martin describes Amanda as "a keen observer of people," and says the film "really did capture certain individuals, who I will not name. Reading it, it was a blast for me, having been there."

Amanda had nothing to do with Legally Blonde 2, but she does have a sequel in mind, "The Perm" -- à la The Firm -- based on Brown and Bain.

"That one my dad was not thrilled about," Amanda says, laughing. "He knew about that, because as soon as I had Elle I was like, She has got [to get] to Arizona.' And some of these characters are just hilarious -- some of the lawyers in my dad's office just make me laugh."

The idea is that Brooke Vandermark, Elle's sorority sister who is wrongly accused of murdering her husband in Legally Blonde, gets remarried and moves to Arizona.

Elle moves, too, because "every day's a good hair day," and joins a law firm. Bizarre things happen involving Indians. Amanda says she's about 90 pages in.

So can she share specifics about where she's getting inspiration?

"No, no, no, I definitely cannot! There are a lot of lawyers with bad perms. It could be any number."

Along with The Perm, Amanda has several other projects in the works. There's Family Trust, of course, which may soon be a movie. Amanda envisions a series of young adult books based on Elle (like Elle of the Ball, in which Elle travels to England), similar to The Babysitter's Club series. The beauty of these, Amanda explains, is that she could just sell someone else the ideas. She's at work on a children's book. She's pitching a show to HBO called The Mommy Diaries. And, of course, she's raising Alexandra. The Brown-Chang family splits their time between San Francisco -- the swank Russian Hill section, to be exact -- and Malibu.

Throughout the interview, Amanda is pointedly nonchalant about the trappings of her success. She could barely be bothered to set foot on the set of Legally Blonde, doesn't really care much for the movies. But she just can't help but offer a sidewise peek at her glamorous life. Waiting for the valet outside T. Cook's, talk turns to child-rearing, and Amanda steers the conversation around to the fact that Alexandra is desperate for a bunny.

After all, she remarks, Hilary and Chad practically have a petting zoo at their house.


Amanda is up at dawn the next day for hair and makeup, and on the road before 7, packed into a rented Camry with her publicist, personal assistant and makeup guy. They all turn off their cell phones as they walk into KTVK's offices, for the first of three television appearances this morning.

Amanda is very understated again today, in a black blouse and khaki pants. In contrast, her publicist wears tight jeans and a tank top. The makeup guy's in shorts and Burberry flip-flops. He moves a chunk of hair away from Amanda's face with the handle of a makeup brush. The author schmoozes Tara Hitchcock, co-host of Good Morning Arizona. Turns out Tara rooms with Penny Goff, who's a good friend of Serena's.

Like, omigod! Small world.

Everyone seems pleased with the interview, and the entourage travels to the local ABC affiliate, where Amanda has an appearance set on Sonoran Living.

Again, cell phones off, everyone.

After that interview, the publicist rushes to Amanda, and they whisper furiously. Finally, they finish, both serious. "Okay, so I should put it behind my ear?" Amanda asks. The makeup guy nods gravely.

The interview went so well -- again, Amanda found someone who knows someone she went to high school with -- they invite her back to do a segment for the news.

Quickly, Amanda and Co. head over to AZTV, for an interview on the Pat McMahon Show. Until now, the assistant, a pleasant young woman who explains that she moved to San Francisco from North Carolina to work for Amanda, and seems to have the sole task today of driving the Camry, has been almost silent. When the group enters the small waiting area at AZTV, the receptionist asks if anyone wants coffee or water.

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Amy Silverman is a two-time winner of the Arizona Press Club’s Journalist of the Year award. Her work has appeared on the radio show This American Life and in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Lenny Letter, and Brain, Child. She’s the co-curator of the live reading series Bar Flies, and a commentator for KJZZ, the NPR affiliate in Phoenix. Silverman is the author of the book My Heart Can’t Even Believe It: A Story of Science, Love, and Down Syndrome (Woodbine House 2016). Follow her on Instagram (@amysilverman), Twitter (@amysilvermanaz), and at amy-silverman.com.