"Casey at Bat" by Kimberly Cutter
No one can accuse Casey Johnson of failing to make an entrance. When the supernaturally blond and buxom Johnson & Johnson heiress, 22, arrives for lunch at the Chateau Marmont, she flashes her big, real cocktail diamonds, swishes in her camouflage pants and starts calling, "Fannie Mae! Fannie Mae, come back here!" as her mutt, wearing a Pucci scarf, races onto the glowing green lawn and proceeds to take what one waiter terms "a huge dump."
For anyone witnessing the scene—which continues with a polite 45-minute standoff between the heiress and the waiter, after which Johnson finally consents to deposit said dump in a white takeout box—it begins to seem like a downright shame that the folks at the Women's Entertainment network spent so much time and money creating their upcoming comedy series The Tinsley Bumble Show (on which Johnson plays the title character's nemesis) when they could have had a scrumptious reality hit on their hands just by following Johnson around with a film crew.
"I was a performer for years before I ever got onstage," says Johnson, her cartoonishly full lips spreading into the sort of smile more commonly found on Sunset Boulevard billboards advertising gentlemen's clubs. "I think that's what's called being a drama queen."
Billed as a riches-to-rags comedy, The Tinsley Bumble Show follows the adventures of Bumble, its Park Avenue-born heroine, who is forced to get serious after her father is indicted on charges of white-collar crime. Johnson plays Bumble's rival, a scantily clad fellow It girl named Mimi von Lustig, whom Johnson describes as a young Alexis Carrington. "Everyone's like, This is you! and I'm like, It is not!" says Johnson, who as von Lustig is never without a riding crop and a pair of German "boy toys," Horst and Dieter. "Our backgrounds are very similar, but
When describing her own childhood on the Upper East Side of New York, Johnson—who is the daughter of ex-model Sale Johnson and New York Jets owner Woody Johnson—talks about learning to walk at seven months, and walking in high heels at a year. "I really was!" she swears. "My mother had a pair custom-made for me out of silver snakeskin." A pair of high heels? "Yes." At age one? "Yes!" Johnson insists. "Listen, I could do full makeup and lip liner at a year," she says. "I was, like, ready to go to Chanel and buy a quilted bag."
School proved a trickier balancing act. Asked which one she attended, Johnson raises an eyebrow: "Where didn't I go to school?" A rocky educational road led her to New York's tony but less than rigorous Dwight School, followed by a brief stint at Brown—the socialite's Ivy—which she left after her freshman year because she didn't like the weather. Upon returning to New York, Johnson worked for publicist Peggy Siegal and then as beauty editor of the now defunct ManhattanFILE magazine.
"But I always knew I was going to live in California," says Johnson, her walnut-size diamond ring glittering in the sun as she lights a cigarette. "The first time I came here, I was eight or nine years old. I was staying at the Beverly Hills Hotel with my parents, and I remember looking out the window at the palm trees and saying, Mom, Dad, I'm gonna live out here."
It's no surprise that several Hollywood types have already tried to capitalize on Johnson's rich-bitch persona since her move here a year and a half ago. She participated in Robin Leacock's 2002 documentary It Girls (which is what got her noticed by the forces behind The Tinsley Bumble Show) and was offered the role of sidekick to her friend Paris Hilton on the upcoming Green Acres-esque reality show The Simple Life. Johnson turned down the part, opting for a bona fide acting role instead. But though she seems eager to transcend, or at least expand upon, her status as a New York socialite-in-training, Johnson—like the Hilton sisters—is more than willing to exploit that status for the sake of her career.
"I left New York because all they care about is if you have money or a family name, and if you mess up," says Johnson, who recently purchased an Italian-style villa in the hills above L.A. "I mean, I turned up on Page Six once because my thong was showing. I hadn't done anything, so I didn't feel like I deserved to be written about. Out here, they don't care about how much money you have, or what your family name is. It's what you can do, and whether you're famous."