Showbiz Commentary: Heidi Oringer

Lara Flynn Boyle, the skeletal district attorney on The Practice, was caught in a recent whirlwind of rumors linking her with the newly separated Harrison Ford. (She’s so lucky — I can’t even get linked with Gerald Ford.)

Boyle refuted these allegations, calling them “poppycock.” This celebrity couple connection came just one day after it was revealed that Ford and his wife of 17 years, screenwriter Melissa Mathison, have been living apart for over a month.

So, how did Boyle get hooked up with Ford, you ask? She was seen at the same restaurant as the Indiana Jones star. He was with his assistant, she was alone. End of story.

The ‘Weathered’ Look

It’s certainly no surprise that the rumormongers found a way to put a spin on the Ford split, because that’s what they do. But why did they place him with Boyle, of all the women in Hollywood? (Not to worry … I’m going to answer this for you.) Because she’s obviously got a penchant for older men.

Yes, that’s right. The seriously svelte actress, who is 30, likes her men, how shall I say, “weathered.” Case in point, her real boyfriend is Jack Nicholson. Um hmm … I said Jack Nicholson. Perhaps you’ve been following the election so closely that you didn’t realize Ms. Boyle is happily back in the elderly arms of her senior sweetheart, “The Joker.”

For some this may be an epiphany, but to the regular Celebrity Dating Game contestants, it’s old hat (who said “old?”). These two stars have actually been going at it for some time, but there’s a new twist on the old tale. (Oops! There’s that word again.) Nicholson gave Boyle the heave-ho several weeks ago, but he has since changed HIS mind. And the sicker kicker is, SHE couldn’t be happier!

Again, the older man getting the girl certainly isn’t groundbreaking. It’s just that it’s usually the young woman who gets tired of the older man (or he dies, whichever comes first). In this case, Boyle seems to be absolutely smitten with the Jackster, publicly calling him “sexy” and stating that he more than occasionally takes her breath away.

Sexy Sugar Daddies

I can certainly agree that Jack Nicholson is not just another older man. He is sexy, in a way (albeit the way the way your grandpa was sexy in the 1940s, before he got the hair in his ears). With Nicholson, though, I think it’s the cocky attitude that throws women for a loop. He exudes “I don’t give a damn” in a place known for its “Image is everything” ideology.

I’m not saying he’s a BAD-looking guy either, but he’s no Robert Redford or Paul Newman. And admittedly, he has far more appeal than many of the other cradle robbers out there, like Hugh Hefner. He’s also, unquestionably, one talented S.O.B. But do those qualities overcome the negatives, namely, the drastic age difference?

Apparently so. OK, fine. I’ll deal with it. But, but, but, but …

What About a Sugar Mama?

This week’s New York magazine quotes someone as saying they saw Carrie Fisher making nice with Ben Affleck at her 44th birthday party. This person said the little tete-a-tete was “casual,” but also called it “bizarre.” This person was also quoted as trying to explain the attraction by suggesting Affleck perhaps had a “Princess Leia fantasy.” There’s no solid confirmation regarding the veracity of this story, but Carrie Fisher’s spokesperson responded by simply saying, “Good for her.”

Damn right it’s “good for her”!

How come it’s “bizarre” for an older woman to have something with a younger man, but not vice versa?! How come Ben Affleck’s alleged amorous behavior toward Fisher was immediately made light of by insinuating he must’ve confused today’s Carrie Fisher with the woman he drooled over as a youngster watching Star Wars? Why can’t it be that this younger, handsome man was actually attracted to this older woman and was interested in having a mature encounter, as opposed to another go at a skinny young starlet?

I’ll tell you why: Society has come to accept the older man/younger woman thing as part of life. Hollywood has made countless movies about it. (The ones where the woman is older are only made-for-cable.) Most people are so attuned to older man/younger woman relationships that it doesn’t even dawn on them just how impractical it really can be.

In the case of Nicholson and Boyle, we’re talking 33 years difference, more than three decades, a third of a century. When Nicholson was on a movie set, filming his classic diner scene in Five Easy Pieces, Boyle was in a layette, having just had her umbilical cord removed. (Which proves, in this case, that the chicken did come before the egg.)

And what could they really have in common? Physically, she’s half his size, half his weight and far more fit. He’s got a bit of a belly and he smokes. He relates to friends his age, like Peter Fonda. She has more friends her age. (Maybe Peter’s daughter, Bridget Fonda.) He’s been married and has three children. She’s never been married and IS someone’s child.

But all that really doesn’t matter because it’s a Hollywood relationship and, as we all know, these things usually don’t last. She’ll get older and wiser. He’ll just get older and older.

Heidi Oringer is director of entertainment programming at ABCNEWS Radio.