Johnson & Johnson heir documents struggle of young, rich

Monday, October 27, 2003

The rich are different from you and me. For one thing, they get to agonize about the difficulties of being rich. Jamie Johnson, the 23-year-old heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune, documents the fretful lifestyles of his small, elite social circle in his first film effort, "Born Rich" (9 p.m., HBO).

Johnson, a history student at New York University, narrates the film, and begins and ends "Rich" with scenes of his 21st birthday party. This is the night, he informs us, that he will come into his trust, entitling him to a fortune few of us can even imagine. But what does someone who never has to work do with his life? How do you cope with the nagging notion that none of your fortune is deserved, and the ever-present fear that it might be taken away?

"Rich" presents interviews -- both painful and banal -- with Johnson's peers, including Georgina Bloomberg, S.I. Newhouse IV, Ivanka Trump and others.

While Johnson's movie offers an irresistible peephole onto the rich, it's also very much a movie about being young. Ivanka Trump offers the most boring interviews -- not because she's wealthy, but because she remains so blissfully devoted to her mommy and daddy. In contrast, magazine scion S.I. Newhouse IV would rather hang out at his Haverford College dorm than go to his father's apartment, where he "feels like a guest." What college senior can't relate to that sentiment? Yes, the filthy rich are different. But you don't have to be a moneybags to want to rebel and prove yourself.

Tonight's other highlights

Late night

Kiefer Sutherland and Emmylou Harris appear on "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jay Leno welcomes Norm MacDonald, Charles Barkley and Annie Lennox on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC).

Joaquin Phoenix and Cheap Trick appear on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" (11:35 p.m., NBC) ... Sarah Wynter visits "The Late, Late Show with Craig Kilborn" (11:37 p.m., CBS).