Courting Disaster: What Went Wrong with Randy Quaid

Jim Cohen on ABC News, October 20, 2010

Media Source

"Lights, camera, action!" is music to the ears
of movie actors. Unfortunately, the same
phrase also works well when those
celebrities get asked to pose for mug shots.

ActorRandy Quaid  the older brother
of actorDennis Quaid  and Randy's
wife Evi have matched sets of police-station
photos. But the public may know them best,
not for their legal transgressions, but their
habit of not showing up in court when the
law asks them to.

Their latest bad?

The Associated Press reported on Monday
that a judge issued two $50,000 arrest
warrants for the Quaids, who were no-shows
at a court hearing, related to theirarrests
last monthon suspicion they illegally
squatted at the guest house of a Montecito
home they once owned. Each Quaid faces a
felony vandalism charge.

Santa Barbara Senior Deputy District
Attorney Lee Carter told, "At
the moment, the district attorney's office has
no information as to their whereabouts."

How did Quaid go from popular character
actor to someone who takes up residence in
someone else's house?
According to a People magazine article
published in November last year 
about six weeks after the Quaids werearres-
ted in Texas "for allegedly running out on a
$10,000 hotel bill at the exclusive San
Ysidro Ranch in Santa Barbara, California,"
friends of the couple pinpointed an
event that initiated the downward spiral.

"Friends believe the Quaids' downward spiral
began after a dispute with the Actors' Equity
Association," reported People. At the time,
Quaid was starring in the musical Lone Star
Love in Seattle.

"In October 2007 twenty-three AEA
members filed complaints with the
organization, claiming Randy was exhibiting
oddball behavior and missing rehearsals. He
was subsequently banned from the
organization," according to People.
The article noted that the couple hired Becky
Altringer, a private investigator to investigate
the actors who made complaints about
them. Altringer told People, "After that, [Evi]
flipped. That's when she started saying
everyone was against them, and now she's
saying I'm against them." Altringer reportedly
is suing the couple for breach of contract to
recoup $19,000 she says she's owed.

In the article, a long time friend of the
couple, said: "Randy always had a good
reputation. He was so sad when he talked
about [the incident in Seattle]. But the story
also revealed that in 2008, a management
consultant contracted to AEA was granted a
restraining order by a Los Angeles court,
after she said the Quaids had come to her
office and threatened her.

Another longtime friend of the couple also
claims being "threatened" by Evi. With
regards to Randy, other friends said they
"can't reconcile the man they see in the mug
shot with the 'teddy bear' they know." Did
these seemingly incendiary events 
related to the couple's behavior help
create a trajectory to the legal issues the
couple faces now?

It may be impossible to connect the dots,
but other experts have weighed in about the
missed court dates.

"It amounts to pretending that something
distressing doesn't exist, otherwise called
denial," said Paul S. Appelbaum, a
psychiatrist and professor of psychiatry,
medicine and law at Columbia University. "At
some level, most people will register that the
summons to appear in court is for them, but
it's what the mind does with that information
that's important."
Appelbaum noted that peer groups can
influence how people respond to court dates
by saying, "Oh, you don't have to go." And, in
some cases, he said, all you need for a peer
group is one person, who can be your
spouse or other intimate.

Another factor that can create a no-show
mindset is how much they once got away
with. "People who are talented, smart or
athletically gifted are often allowed to avoid
unpleasant realities," said Appelbaum,
noting it might be something as simple as
being excused from chores because you're
in a school play.

"Once you feel entitled, it's very hard to think
of yourself as unentitled, even if you're not in
demand or fielding phone calls," said Jim
Cohen, a professor of criminal law at
Fordham Law School, with an expertise in
psychology and criminal law. "People who
consider themselves entitled are not happy
being told what to do."