Back in 1998, Gretchen Mol appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair's September issue, wearing a nearly transparent white gown and looking about as alluring as humanly possible. The accompanying article (and one got the feeling it was the cover photo that prompted the article, not the other way around) proclaimed her the next big thing. In fact, it treated the 25-year-old actress as though she already were a major star.
Eight years later, thanks to her winsome, absolutely unselfconscious performance as a 1950s pin-up queen in The Notorious Bettie Page, she may finally be living up to the magazine's hype.
My complaint here has nothing to do with Mol, who for years has been a fine actress in forgettable movies. It has to do with the baseless hype that results in stories like the one that appeared in Vanity Fair - a story that, it could be argued, pulled the rug out from under Mol's fledgling career by setting a bar that was prematurely high. That Mol appeared in four relative bombs in 1998, including Rounders and Finding Graceland, wasn't her fault.
Remember, hype can be more than overblown; it can also be dangerous. Both those who manufacture it and those who are subjected to it should exercise caution.