Romy And Michele Are 45. So Is Toby Walters.
by Bobby Finger
This is part of a week-long series celebrating the 45th birthdays of characters from Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion.
Toby started her first blog in 1999. “Toby’s Take” was hosted on Live Journal and, at its peak, was getting about 10,000 celebrity-loving hits a day (though this was before any good analytics were available to average internet users). It was filled with her lengthy writeups of celebrity sightings, scanned autographs, and photos she snapped on her own. On most weekday mornings you could find Toby prowling the streets of Hollywood with headshots and a camera and blank sheets of paper trying to get her favorite (any) celebrity’s photo, autograph, and a quick quote for her blog.
Under a photo of Sharon Stone holding a venti latte from Starbucks:
“Well aren’t you persistent! Ha! I love it.”
Under Keanu Reeves’ autograph:
Under a photo of M. Night Shyamalan and Toby hugging on the Santa Monica pier:
“I’ve seen your blog!”
Toby was one of the internet’s first stans, and celebrities found her nonthreatening — even the angriest assistants never protested if she asked for a photo. “It’s good for your image,” someone once told Mena Suvari. Toby’s Take was a charming reminder of their fame, and its editor was an permanently-positive mother figure. But then came 2003.
After spotting Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston in a CVS, Toby snapped a photo of the couple mid-argument. Underneath the photo she published that afternoon read a quote from Jen:
“Now’s not a good time, Toby.”
She followed that with a rare editorial addition.
“Trouble in paradise — aka aisle 3!”
As the first person who publicly called out Brad and Jenn’s troubled marriage, Toby’s image took a sudden and drastic turn. LA Weekly convinced her to bring “Toby’s Take” to their site. “Fewer autographs, more photos. Less hugs, more drama.” Within weeks, “Toby’s Take” was the most-viewed section of their website, and her page in the print edition was being read by every third patron at The Coffee Bean. Her innocuous pseudo-stalking had turned into something seedier. More titillating. She revealed cheating scandals. She published leaked emails and lists of closeted actors and anonymous blind items and received letters from entertainment lawyers nearly every day. M. Night Shyamalan even stopped giving her hugs. Basically, Toby was a star.
Celebrities had a single greeting for her. And, much like “aloha,” it doubled as a farewell.
“Hey Toby. Fuck off.”
As her page views soared, her personal life nosedived. She rarely went on dates, as people only wanted to hear her stories about celebrities. She rarely saw her friends, as the few she once had were disgusted by her job. Toby, the most famous name in celebrity news, was more alone than she had ever been. So she decided it was time to make a change.
In 2011 she moved to Austin, TX and sold the rights of “Toby’s Take” to the Weekly, where it remains written by a couple young Berkeley grads. Right now she works from home as a freelance writer (under a pseudonym, of course) and, after calling in a favor, social media editor for Lady Fair Cigarettes. She’s even thinking about opening up a taco truck. Last month a prominent East Coast blog wrote an in-depth profile of her rise and fall (“When Toby Took Off”), but she chose not to return a request to be interviewed.
On her 45th birthday she received an edible arrangement from Jennifer Aniston. (She’s received one every year since the incident.) Inside the basket was a Blu-ray of We’re the Millers and a note that read, simply, “Fuck off.”
Bobby Finger will just have two burgers, fries, and Diet Cokes because he’s in a hurry.