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Livin’ la vida Lohan

Growing up so fast takes its toll on Lindsay

There she is, Lindsay Lohan, on the cover of Vanity Fair, looking far older and sexier than her brief 19 years, the little freckle-faced moppet from "The Parent Trap" a distant memory.

There she is inside the magazine, on the article’s opening spread, photographed smiling on the beach, wearing nothing more than a baggy oversized sweater — and channeling tragic, doomed Marilyn Monroe with scary ease. There she is, L. Lo — as she’s called in some circles — confessing to bulimia and drugs in her big glossy magazine cover interview, no doubt designed to show that she is a serious talent to be reckoned with.

Yes, there she is admitting to the real tragedy in her life, the heart-breaking pain inflicted on her family by her father, Michael Lohan, who is currently serving jail time in upstate New York for a myriad of charges. This is why she wrote her hit song “Confessions of a Broken Heart”; this is the reason why she directed her own video, baring her own familial pain.

There she is, star of such teenage fare like "Herbie: Fully Loaded" and "Mean Girls," admitting she broke down in tears while on a press junket in Europe and tried to call her dad. All of this, it goes without saying, is a lot for any person (never mind a 19-year-old girl growing up in public) to handle.

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The cute child star grew into a Hollywood bombshell — with grownup problems of her own.

And there she is acknowledging to being sat down by "Saturday Night Live’s" Tina Fey and Lorne Michaels — who knows a thing or two about talented folks and self-destruction — as both told her she needed to take better care of herself. There she is, shortly thereafter, denying she ever insinuated to a Vanity Fair writer that she had an eating disorder or dabbled in drugs or needed serious help of any kind. (Vanity Fair has said it stands by its story.)

No, this isn’t a made-for-TV movie. Well, not yet anyway.

Oh, but there’s more: There she is, Lindsay Lohan, all grown up, ringing in the New Year in Miami dancing the night away; there she is at Miami’s Mount Sinai Medical Center, where she landed for four days, treated for what her people say was a severe asthma attack.

There she is, just six days later having returned to her home in New York (she was raised in Merrick, Long Island) partying until 2:45 a.m. with fellow party girl Kate Moss  — that ingénue of clean living! — and getting lap-dances from the ladies of Scores while reportedly doing $22 Kamikaze shots; there she is on Jan. 12 — the very next night! — hanging out at ultra chic Bungalow 8 with her mom/manager Dina Lohan. Eyewitness reports claim Lindsay, she with the asthmatic lungs and underage license, was drinking and smoking.

Nothing to see here ...If you’re a Lindsay Lohan fan and/or a reader of celebrity weekly magazines, then the talented singer/actress’ fast-paced lifestyle is no surprise to you. Neither are the regular denials by Lindsay’s camp that anything is wrong. Problem? What problem?

Oh, those super-skinny arms that made her look skeletal? It’s not that bad, her camp says. Oh, smoking right after a serious asthma attack? Yeah, like, so what? She’s just a teenager, right? Like Cyndi Lauper sang so many moons ago, girls just wanna have fun! That visit to Miami's Mount Sinai — her second hospital visit in 14 months, according to some — what's your point?

Sources are quoted almost weekly saying friends are worried about her, as concerned for her health as Tina Fey and the "Saturday Night Live" folks are said to be. But does anything change?

It all begs the question: What’s next for La Lohan? The easy answer is more of the same. More partying, more late nights, more smoking (although her mom says she’s taking steps to quit her less than a pack a day habit; which, come to think of it, wouldn’t be a bad idea since she just spent four days in a hospital for an asthma attack).

The photo supplied by Vanity Fair Magazine shows Lindsay Lohan on the cover in a photo by Mario Testino for an upcoming Vanity Fair issue. The 19-year-old actress-pop star admits she has dabbled in drugs and says she has battled bulimia in the magazine which hits newstands Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2006. VANITY FAIR

Of course, before she’s smoke free, there likely will be more partying with the likes of Kate Moss — who recently was pictured on the cover of a British tabloid cutting lines of cocaine — and maybe some of the other Bad Girls of Young Hollywood.

But the real question remains: Will this girl get the help she needs?

Then there's the day jobIt’s obvious she’s got what it takes. She making the leap from Velveeta-fests like "Freaky Friday" and "Herbie: Fully Loaded" to adult films like Robert Altman’s "A Prairie Home Companion" (co-starring Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline and John C. Reilly — actors with a capital A). She’s also working on edgy indie movies like "Bobby," about the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy (with Anthony Hopkins and Sharon Stone) and "Chapter 27," about the 1980 murder of John Lennon, alongside Jared Leto, with whom she is said to have had a brief fling.

If she’s as good as Altman and Streep say she is — both gave breathless testimony of her talent to Vanity Fair (Lindsay’s camp didn’t deny those quotes) — sooner or later, L. Lo will be mentioned in the same breath as some of her Young Hollywood rivals.

Like who? Well, like, Scarlett Johansson, who has been nominated not once, not twice, but four times for a Golden Globe award; yes, that Scarlett Johansson of "Lost in Translation" and two Woody Allen movies.

No one puts La Lohan in the same league as Ms. Scarlett. Not yet anyway. Maybe someday soon, the two will be mentioned in the same breath, and not just because Lindsay reportedly scribbled some very nasty and very naughty graffiti on the bathroom wall of a dingy New York club about Ms. Scarlett, as reports recently claimed. (Her rep, of course, denied Lohan wrote a single word about Ms. Golden Globes with a Sharpie.)

Maybe, just maybe, some someday soon, Lindsay Lohan will be best known as an actress or even a singer and not for her off-screen antics — real or otherwise — which is the real reason a 19-year-old actress lands on the cover of Vanity Fair.

And maybe someone will tell her to take it easy. Maybe go on vacation, take a year off. Maybe, but don’t bet on it.

Joe Tirella is a senior editor at Star magazine.