Posing for the cameras is nothing new to celebrities, but truly candid shots at home are rare.
In a new book, Hollywood insider and amateur photographer Joyce Ostin captures famous mothers and daughters in unguarded moments of affection. There's Madonna getting a hug from her dark-haired daughter, Lourdes; Jennifer Lopez being sweetly pecked on the cheek by mom Guadelupe. And Olivia Newton-John hamming it up with her daughter, Chloe Lattanzi.
"Hollywood Moms" (Harry N. Abrams, $29.95) represents Ostin's triumph in a five-year battle with breast cancer. It's also her way of giving back to the people she credits with saving her life. All proceeds from the book will go to a fund established for ovarian and breast cancer research, the Joyce Ostin Foundation (also called Miracles & Wonders).
As the wife of DreamWorks Records executive Michael Ostin and the daughter-in-law of Warner Bros. legend Mo Ostin, Joyce Ostin was an ideal candidate to get access to Hollywood's jet set. She and contributing editor Wendy Goldberg had marquee names at their fingertips.
Both emphasize the selfless response of their subjects. "They were incredibly giving and aware of how much they could make a difference," Ostin says. "I think they realized how valuable all of our lives are, how quickly they can be presented with an illness and how serious and challenging it can be to go through that."
Goldberg adds, "They put aside fears and came forward in a loving, supportive, kind way because they knew our goal is to make a difference in women's health -- our cause was more important than their phobias."
All 50 black and white photographs are accompanied by answers to a question posed by Ostin: "What are the most nourishing moments you've shared with your mother or daughter?"
Shiva Rose McDermott, actress and wife of actor Dylan McDermott, summed up her feelings about her daughter, Colette Blue: "When the external world depletes my energy, Coco energizes me with her innocence, her laughter, her wonder and her overflowing love."
What seems to have attracted these women to the project is the common experience of being a daughter, or a mother, or both. Ostin, 43, is a mother of three girls (ages 8, 10 and 12) and wanted to highlight an aspect of life that the famous share with the rest of us.
Dressed casually, sans makeup, the stars featured in the book could pass for the girls next door. Well, almost. It's kind of hard to look at Michelle Pfeiffer and not see the natural glamour in her flawless features.
"It's so inspirational. It just shows these women in a vein they're usually never seen in. I wanted to have people in an organic way. I didn't want makeup or glamour -- I wanted them just as moms. ...This book is a celebration of life."
Ostin knows something about celebrating life. Diagnosed with breast cancer five years ago, she underwent a mastectomy and chemotherapy. Three years later she suffered a recurrence. She was the first person in the United States to get a prescription for the new drug Herceptin. Since then, she's returned to fighting form.
"When Joyce finished treatment she was so happy to be in remission she wanted to give back, and we started thinking of ways to try to make a difference," says Goldberg, who gives her age as "50 plus a little." "She likes to take pictures, so she brought pictures to me, and asked, what can we do?"
Goldberg is formidable in her own right as both the public relations representative for Revlon Cosmetics and as the wife of "Charlie's Angels" (the series and the film) producer Leonard Goldberg. She and daughter Amanda are also featured in the book.
Though she likes to pass off Ostin and herself as "bumbling," they've got the savvy that's innate to Hollywood movers and shakers.
"We asked, 'Who does the best photography books?' People told us Harry Abrams [publishers]. We then asked, 'Who do we know?' We arranged a meeting with Liz Robbins, who's the president of the company. We weren't messing around, we went right to the top. Then her boss, Paul Gottlieb, walked in. We said, 'Get in here, you're the guy we want to talk to.' Off the top of my head, I made up the name Hollywood Moms and Joyce kicked me under the table," says Goldberg.
But the name and the idea stuck. Within 30 minutes, they had a deal for a first printing of 75,000 books and were so ecstatic they went shopping at Saks, which now is a promotional partner for the book. (Instyle and Good Housekeeping magazines are also collaborating with them on publicity.)
Then the pressure was on for the collaborators to find their subjects. "We got out our Rolodexes and randomly started making calls. At first it was just people who were recognizable, people we knew. Then we started asking people who represented other people. For instance, Joyce is friendly with Faith Hill's manager and Hilary Swank's manager. The rest fell into place," says Goldberg.
Ostin was often invited into celebrity homes to do her work, although sometimes they came to her. "I went with Joyce on some shoots and this was so amazing -- she did it all in 30 minutes," says Goldberg. "She takes two rolls of film, and I'm saying to her, 'Don't you want to take more, just in case?' "
But Ostin was very conscious of time as a precious commodity. "They were doing me a favor. I knew after two to three rolls tops I had it. I saw the love and emotion in their eyes and face and shot away."
Ostin made new friends in the process.
"Gillian Anderson -- I didn't know her at all but when she found out about this through her publicist she was absolutely 100 percent on board," says Ostin, who was granted rare access to the X-Files star's number-one priority, six-year-old Piper. "You can see her sincerity, heart and soul in the way she is with her daughter." Co-star David Duchovny's toddler West is a couple of pages away in the arms of mom Tea Leoni.
Ostin was able to draw on longtime friends like Sidney Poitier's wife, Joanna, who considers her part of the family.
As for her own session with her two daughters, Poitier says that Ostin "was very quick and good, so fast. I liked it, though I think I looked a little chubby."
Being a breast cancer survivor wasn't a criteria for being in the book, but Ostin says, "a lot of women at some point in their lives had known someone touched by breast cancer -- that's how prevalent it is." Like the Arquettes and Madonna, Ostin's also lost a mother to it.
"The struggle to overcome any horrific situation -- not necessarily breast cancer -- is the message," she says. "We all have trials and tribulations to work through, and that bond between mother and child is an innate security we all have."