By Stacy Jenel Smith
With Julia Roberts
talking about a five-year time-out from movies to enjoy her new infants Hazel Patricia and Phinneaus Walter -- and Gwyneth Paltrow
talking about leaving her acting career to be full-time mom to her and husband Chris Martin's baby daughter Apple -- brace yourselves. Movie Star Mommies over saturation in the media is on the way.
Already, there is concern that everyday mommies across the land are being stricken with inferiority complexes, thanks to the ongoing TV and slick magazine coverage of Size 2 Hollywood goddesses tending to their smiling, designer-clad cherubs.
'Course, everyday mommies probably suspect that behind those spotless images are a lot of different realities.
Phoebe Cates had a busy film career until her and husband Kevin Kline's offspring came along. She stepped away from the cameras entirely to raise her family. She told us she had discovered the reality behind all the happy talk she'd heard from her fellow actresses regarding having their tots on set: "They're actually just turning their children over to nannies, because even though your children are near you, you're not available to them. You're shooting or you're in makeup, or a meeting, or any number of other things."
Let's have an "Aha!" from those everyday moms.
Jodie Foster has become extremely selective about taking acting assignments since becoming mother to sons Charles, six, and Kit, three. She went two years after the birth of Charles before returning to the cameras. She admitted, "I was just worried I wasn't going to care. And the truth is that when you're extremely tired and you're trying to do two things at once, if you have to give something up, you'll give up the work, because he's just more important."
Another reality among Hollywood parents are the pure performers in this town who, if they'd been alive in an earlier era, might have been trundling their tots town to town as traveling players.
William H. Macy and Felicity Huffman come to mind, and Bradley Whitford and Jane Kazmarek. The former couple share parenting of their four-year-old and two-year-old daughters, the latter couple of their three young children, Frances, George and Mary Louisa. Their homes are hives of activity.
Sometimes it's tour buses where show biz brats get their first glimpses of the world. Faith Hill and Tim McGraw's lavish bus is designed to be family friendly for their three daughters, ages three to seven. Rock guitar god Slash of Guns 'N Roses and Velvet Revolver, who has baby and two-year-old sons, thinks highly of having wife Perla and the boys - and a nanny - out on the road with him.
"It's much better than to sequester them at home," says Slash. He's in a position to know. "My parents were in the music business. My mom was always doing clothes for entertainers and my dad is a total troubador kind of guy, so we were always at shows. I thought it was a great, bohemian way to be raised. That's why I'm still in the music business now and not crazy."
While Gwyneth-watchers wonder whether she'll disappear from the public eye, Gwyneth's mom, Blythe Danner, says she's confident Gwyneth's instincts will lead her in the right direction. Danner, of course, is an actress of no small note in her own right, one who continued to work while Gwyneth and son Jake were growing up, and her husband, the late, revered director Bruce Paltrow, was busy making great television.
"They went with me to film locations. They were backstage when I did plays. I think it was a good growing-up experience for them. I was only sorry that we didn't stay in one place long enough for them to have a sense of community," says Blythe.
Instead, Gwyneth and Jake, a director, wound up understanding that community doesn't have to be a place - and feeling quite secure in themselves.
Another large set of celebs, unfortunately, show up at as many parties and clubs after having children as before. Where, one wonders, are the transforming effects of parenthood?
Then there are those who somehow maintain images suggesting they're unencumbered, though we know they're parents - Brandy, Madonna, Pam Anderson.
Wonder what kind of book Anna Nicole Smith's son will write one day.
Charlie Sheen's wife, Denise Richards, and their eight-month-old daughter Sam were on the set of his "Two and a Half Men" sitcom recently to appear on the Nov. 22 episode of the show, and Denise was jittery.
"I kept peeking out of the corner of my eye to see what she was doing. I was so focused on her, so nervous," Richards recalls.
And it wasn't just the physical practicalities of having Sam on the show that the actress was worried about.
"Are we already overexposing our daughter? We talked about that," admits Denise. Their answer is obvious in Sam's extended appearance on the show. Charlie, once one of Hollywood's most notorious wildmen, and the beauteous Denise, who is showing off her body in December's Playboy magazine, are very proud of their little chip off the old block, granddaughter of none other than the President of the United States - well, on "The West Wing" - Martin Sheen.
It's a different kind of family tableau, but then, show business makes for different kinds of families.