Category Archives: Celebrity Chatter

Arthur Lyons Palm Springs Film Noir Festival Celebrates 25 Shadowy Years

There’s no shadow of a doubt that Palm Springs will soon be swarming with damsels in distress, gregarious gangsters, diminutive dicks, lascivious ladies and odoriferous oddballs.
Welcome to the 25th Annual Palm Springs  Film Noir Festival, officially known as the Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival.
The festival runs May 9-12 at the Palm Springs Cultural Center,  where 12 films will be screened all for the first time, along with a small handful of special guest appearances.  It takes about a half a year to pull together this excursion into shadowy cinema. The festival was founded in 2000 by noir enthusiast and film historian Arthur Lyons; when he died in 2008, the festival was renamed in his honor.
“I’ve always defined ‘noir’ as films that treat light and shadow like characters,” explains Eric Smith, General Manager of the Palm Springs Cultural Center at The Historic Camelot Theatre.
2024 Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival
Opening night’s film is Body and Soul, the 1947 gem starring John Garfield and Lilli Palmer (below), Anne Revere and Canada Lee.  The flick is described as “the undisputed champion of boxing movies” [that] “depicts the seamy world of the so-called ‘sweet science’ as an unforgettable metaphor for loss and redemption.” Scheduled special guest is actor/writer Jim Beaver, who also wrote a biography of Garfield.
All access pass holders and special guests are invited to the opening night reception. Expect to see the wild and wooly: One patron likes dressing as Mickey Spillane; one year the celebratory cake featured an inside filling resembling blood. More food for thought: The center’s cafe has been renamed Mildred’s, as in Mildred Pierce.
None of the films shown since 2001 have been repeated, not an easy task since films are always undergoing restoration and being pulled from circulation. This is one of the reasons the festival has been successful every year;  Smith says that the festival has continually made money. He’s proud to admit that 29% of attendees are repeat customers.
Body and Soul (1947)
Why has the festival lasted a quarter of a century?
“There’s nothing better than sitting together in a  dark theater with like-minded people watching rare, lost and rarely-seen films,”  explains Smith. “These films are black-and-white classics. And they’re never seen on Netflix.”

For a complete schedule of films and screening times, visit arthurlyonsfilmnoir.org/schedule

TICKETS
Tickets can be purchased at the Cultural Center’s box office (2300 East Baristo Road, Palm Springs, CA) or in advance at eventbrite.com/e/2024-arthur-lyons-film-noir-festival-tickets-849709693567?aff=oddtdtcreator

Charles Busch’s “Leading Lady: A Memoir of a Most Unusual Boy” is a Delicious Romp

Charles Busch is not the boy next door.

He’s not the girl next door either.

What he is is a legendary drag performer who has proven throughout the decades that he is a damn good writer… think Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, The Lady in Question, Red Square on Sunset, Psycho Beach Party, Die Mommie Die!

Now Busch has unleased Leading Lady: A Memoir of a Most Unusual Boy (Smart Pop Books, $27.95), an autobiography that’s fast and furious and funny, funny, funny and at times, sad, but not as sad as you will be when you’re on the last page.

The LGBTG+ icon takes us from Hartsdale, New York (with references to dead celebrity-studded Ferncliff, Westchester County’s take on Forest Lawn) to losing his mother to a damaged heart before he turned eight to his love of theatre (given to him by his father, a failed opera singer) to losing his virginity at sixteen  to his colorful, outlandish friends and family members (including sisters Betsy and Margaret) to the onslaught of AIDS to being nominated for a Tony for The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife to his near-death experience to . . . well, you get the idea.

Busch is a rambunctious raconteur. There are no chapters, but dozens of short tantalizing time capsules. The book is a magnificent mosaic, crammed with so many delicious anecdotes that blindingly shine and rival any cubic zirconia jewel Joan Rivers sold during her QVC career. The gems will have you laughing and crying, though the emphasis is on laughing. The stories are sassy (this is where Claudette Colbert and Kim Novak come in); sinful (this is where Esther Williams and Michele Lee come in); sentimental (this is where Carol Channing and Stephen Sondheim come in) and (bitter)sweet (this is where Liza Minnelli and Valerie Harper come in).

Leading Lady is not the lugubrious diary of some displaced cross dresser who longs to tackle RuPaul; it’s the best (read: candid, honest) autobiography since Joan Rivers’ Enter Talking. Joan pops up several times, beginning on page one. “Joan was the most prominent in a long line of smart, bigger-than-life mother figures I’ve attached myself to,” he writes. “All my life I’ve been in search for a maternal woman whose lap I could rest my head on.”

His life was guided, perhaps sometimes misguided, by his mother’s oldest sister, Aunt Lil Blum, who Busch saw as an Auntie Mame and whose ritzy Park Avenue apartment is where he lived as a teen. Aunt Lil had faith in her nephew since Day One and began taking him to Broadway shows when he was nine years old. “Some, like the talky and sexually explicit John Osborne British drama Inadmissible Evidence, were a bit of an intellectual stretch for a third grader, but Aunt Lil never explained anything to me. There was the assumption that I’d either figure it out or let it pass over my head,” he writes.

Busch cannot remember not wanting to be on stage. “I was desperate to be a child star, but my ambitions were always foiled,” he writes. He recalls auditioning for a Yonkers, New York community theater production of Oliver! — losing the role after five auditions. “In the end, they cast some dreadful butch child without a shred of sensitivity.”

It was Aunt Lil who sent Busch to acting school on Saturdays; he recalls the very first lesson. “The teacher taught us how to make an entrance down a staircase wearing a gown with a long train without ever looking down at our feet—a skill that has proved invaluable in my career in the theater.” Ironically, Aunt Lil never saw Busch on stage in drag. “I’d be worried that the audience might not like you or be unkind,” he recalls she told him.

Aunt Lil supported him when Busch needed the money; before fame hit, part-time jobs usually didn’t work out. Busch acknowledges that in so many ways that she was the one who nourished his dreams, especially before he discovered his gift for writing plays and making a living as a male actress.

Busch witnessed Aunt Lil’s decline for eight years. Her death crumbled him. “Entering the hospital room . . . I climbed onto the bed, snuggling next to her, and buried my face in her long beautiful grey hair,” he writes. “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. . . I had so much to thank her for. She had saved my life. She made everything possible. . . . Everything leads me to Aunt Lil.”

The end of Aunt Lil, but not the end of Leading Lady. Even with all the sissified innuendos and campy asides, the book ends up centering around love: love of theatre, of film, of family, of friends and ultimately love of oneself.  To give away much more is to give away the heart and soul of the book. Read it, wander off to the 24 pages of (mostly) color photos, then roam back into Busch’s valentine of memories and magic, vim and vitality.

Here’s Lucie! Lucie Arnaz on her one-woman show, gay icons, Michael Bennett and, of course, her mom

Lucie Arnaz can precisely remember the moment she wanted to be in show business. It had nothing to do with her mom, Lucille Ball, stomping around in a huge vat of grapes.  It had nothing to do with watching her dad, Desi Arnaz, bang out “Babalu on the bongos. It had to do with loving another lady: Mame. It was in 1966 and Lucie, then 15 and in New York City, caught Angela Lansbury in the Jerry Herman musical.
“I remember watching Angela having all this fun, getting to sing all these great songs and dance all these wonderful numbers,” Lucie recalls. “I thought, ‘That’s it! That’s what I’m going to do with my life. I’m going to sing and dance!’”
And she did. And then some.
Her career began with occasional appearances on her mother’s’ 60s  TV series The Lucy Show; Lucie was also a regular (along with her brother Desi Jr.) on Ball’s third series, Here’s Lucy. Regional tours followed; in 1979, Lucie won awards and accolades for her splashy Broadway debut in They’re Playing Our Song. On the day she left the show, Lucie flew to Los Angeles to begin work on the 1980 musical remake of The Jazz Singer starring Neil Diamond and Sir Laurence OIivier.
Other stage and screen work followed. In 1993,  Lucie produced the small-screen documentary Lucy and Desi: A Home Movie, for which she won an Emmy. In 2000, she starred in the London musical The Witches of Eastwick.  Since then, her resume has bulged and broken its seams. There were TV appearances (including the highly-regarded guest starring role in the 2003 episode of Law & Order, Bitch); the CD Latin Roots, the 2010 homage to her father; and various Broadway and national tours, including the 2014 revival of Pippin, in which Lucie jaw-droppingly performed on a trapeze .
All this while maintaining a life with actor Laurence Luckinbill, 16 years her senior, to whom she has been married since June 1980. (The couple have five children.) During the COVID self-isolation years, Lucie edited her husband’s autobiography Effective Memories: How Chance  and the Theatre Saved My Life (Sunbury Press, $34.95) being released next April. She learned to cut her own hair; chronicled the growing years of her grandchildren; dabbled with Facebook and listened to “lots” of audible books.
This month, Lucie returns to New York City with I Got the Job! Songs From My Musical Past. She’s bringing the show back after four years of cancelling because of COVID and last year’s knee replacement surgery.
But that was then. On July 19, 2023, two days after her 72nd birthday, Lucie returns to Below 54 for four nights of proving life is a cabaret, accompanied by her good friend, musical director/pianist Ron Abel.  Call 646.476.3551 for reservations.
Here, Lucie proves she’s still on the ball as she chats about her one-woman show, her new hairdo, imitating Cher, working with Sir Laurence Olivier and Michael Bennett, and gay icons.
Before we go into any hair-raising topics, let’s chat about your gorgeous hair! It’s snow white!
This is my COVID cut and color do. What can I say? I couldn’t go anywhere to get it cut or colored, so when the roots got too long, I cut it all off down to the nubbies. I wore a hat for a few weeks and  thought , ‘Let me see what I look like.’ I’ve been able to cut it myself, and for two years, I have kept it cropped.  It’s white, my dad’s color, but sometimes it shocks me in the morning because I expect a brunette to pop up.  But I like it a lot.  It looks cute, doesn’t it?

Lucie now and with her mom, then

Tease us a bit about I Got the Job! 
This is the first show I’ve done that has a theme. I talk about what I learned from working with people. I remember mistakes I made. I sing songs— whether I sang them or someone else did—and tell stories from my musical theater career.  I’ve been indeed fortunate to have the opportunity being in shows written by some great composers.

One reviewer said you sound like a meld of Liza Minnelli and Barbra Streisand and a shot of Eydie Gorme. What think?
Oh my God! Kill me now! I’m so happy l’ll never have to sing again! It never occurs to me to sound like anybody else. With Liza, it must have to do with energy and tone and song interpretation. I certainly don’t sing like Streisand. I don’t have her notes at all. Maybe there’s a nasal quality. And Eydie! I love her. She and Rosemary Clooney are the kind of singers I listen to.

Speaking of Cher . . . you did a smash-on imitation of her (with Frankie Avalon doing Sonny) singing “I Got You Babe” on Here’s Lucy. Was that fun?
Oh yes! The writers knew Frankie could do Sonny and figured I could do Cher. We went to see Sonny and Cher doing their show to get some ideas. We watched the show and Cher—who I did not know—said, ‘C’mon to my dressing room.’ She asked, ‘Do you have a wig?’ I told her I did, but she handed me one and said, ‘Here, take this. It’s mine and it’s better.’ She also gave me the pair of earrings I wear. Everything that was Cher she gave me. I loved her for doing that. And I loved doing that song. It’s a favorite.

Frankie Avalon as Sonny and Lucie as Cher on “Here’s Lucy”

Any recollections of working with Sir Laurence Olivier on The Jazz Singer?
He was so ill making the movie. His cancer was not in remission and he was in terrible pain. He was always sitting in his dressing room with his head in his hands. When he heard his call—‘Sir Larry, we’re ready for you’—he’d get right up and get to the set.  I had only one scene with him, about two words. I would look at the call sheet to find out whenever he was going to be working and I’d make sure I was also on the set, watching his work. [Pauses] I think the film is underrated. The critics didn’t like it. It was as if they were thinking, ‘You’re Sir Laurence Olivier. How dare you be in a movie with a singer who can’t act [Neil Diamond].’ So they cut him and the film down a few notches.

A vintage 1980 promo ad for “The Jazz Singer”

What was it like working with Michael Bennett on Seesaw?
I was the luckiest girl on the planet.  I got my first legit equity tour working with him and Tommy Tune. He had a tough reputation and he wasn’t diplomatic.  If he didn’t like something he would hurt my feelings and make me cry all night long. We’d come in the next morning and fix what was wrong. It was usually a simple fix. And I’d think, ‘Michael, couldn’t you have been more tactful so I could have gotten some sleep?’ He was a complicated little character. One day he invited me to his apartment, made dinner and said, ‘You could be one of the great ladies of the American theater if you take it seriously.’ So I did exactly what he told me to do: I moved to New York, took acting classes with Herbert Berghof and made people know I was serious about my career. [Laughs] That changed my life. If I didn’t listen to Michael, I would have gotten back into a TV series  . . . and been much wealthier than I am today!

Michael Bennett and Lucie Arnaz

Let’s talk about your creepiest role . . . Elizabeth Short.
Oh, The Black Dahlia. I was surprised I got the role because I hardly had any credits. A friend took me to [executive producer] Doug Cramer who had newspaper clippings of her death on his desk. He took a look at them and me and said, ‘Oh my God! You look just like her!’ I think that’s why I got the role.  It was a great film to make; the movie had lots of famous, amazing cameos. Mercedes McCambridge played my grandmother. But everything was so fast. I was asked to choose between two black stretch wigs and two black dresses and we began filming. The first scene was the one in the coffee shop in which I am named The Black Dahlia. There was no rehearsal period. We did a take, adjusted the lighting, did the take again and that was it. Thank God I had training from summer stock where I learned things fast. I am pleased with that movie and I get asked a lot about her, who wasn’t the sharpest pencil in the box.

Lucie as Elizabeth Short
Lucy and Lucie

I’ve heard your mom lowered her voice through an unusual way of driving. Do you know what I am talking about?
Yes. When she was starting out, someone at the studio told her that her voice was too tinny, that it had no tone or presence.  My mother asked, ‘What the hell am I going to do about that?’ She was told to drive her car down the middle of the road, screaming at the top of her lungs into the wind. I’ve heard my mother say this many times, but she may have exaggerated the story since she’s been known to exaggerate. I don’t know if she actually drove at 90 miles-per-hour or how long she did this. It’s suicide for any singer or actor who tries this today.

We’ve already mentioned Liza and Cher and Barbra. Let’s toss in Dolly and Bette . Are you a gay icon?
I don’t see myself as a gay icon—Minnelli, Cher and Dolly are significant arena fillers. I  think I have a respectable gay following. Let’s put it this way: We like each other.  I have lots of gay friends. They like fun. They like laughter. They like dressing up and having a good time. That’s what it’s all about, no?

.
A triumvirate of gay icons: Liza, Lucie and Joan

 

Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme’s son, David, resurrects their recording career

They were the greatest interpreters of the Great American Songbook. And then some. Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme—more often and most lovingly known in one fell swoop as SteveandEydie—entertained generations with pitch-perfect harmonies and playful banter for more than 50 years. Steve and Eydie cumulatively recorded 1,000 songs. According to executive producer/music guru Jim Pierson, “Eydie as a solo artist recorded more than 400 songs with Steve responsible for well over 300 on his own and together they duetted on approximately 200 masters.”

Their first album recorded together? The aptly-titled We Got Us, winning them a Best Vocal Group Grammy in 1960. They also kept the musical gems alive on the small screen; they were frequent guests on TV shows, winning Emmys for their television salutes to George Gershwin and Irving Berlin.

In 2000, the couple announced plans to reduce touring; in 2008 Eydie retired and Lawrence embarked on a solo music tour. Even recording was no longer begin done—with one important exception. In 2014, during the seventh decade of his career, Lawrence recorded what has become his last CD, When You Come Back to Me, dedicated to his beloved wife who died in 2013. (They married in 1957.)

As Steve says: “Eydie has been my partner on stage and in my life for more than 55 years. I fell in love with her the moment I saw her and even more the first time I heard her sing. While my personal loss is unimaginable, the world has lost one of the greatest pop vocalists of all time.”

And now, with the support and guidance and love of their son, David, Steve and Eydie are making a comeback. Think of it as two stars being born. Again.

In conjunction with Gordon Anderson, Co-President of Real Gone Music, Lawrence plans to remix and remaster the best of his parents’ multi-track recordings and reissuing them over the next two years. The first CD of this collaboration, the critically-acclaimed That Holiday Feeling, has been remastered from the original 1965 two-track master and was released on November 11, 2022.

Considered by many fans and music professionals as one of the best holiday recordings ever made, the CD was loaded with eight additional bonus tracks that were never part of the original 1964 release. these bonus tracks are from various recordings during their years at Columbia Records that Lawrence promises, “are sure to enchance that ‘holiday feeling as you listen.'”

Lawrence knows and understands the importance of his parents’ career; there’s no ego or conceit when he calls his mother “one of the top five vocalists of the 20th century.” (The others include Barbara Streisand, Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland and Billie Holiday.)

Steve and Eydie’s main office has all of the original 24-track masters from their recordings with Columbia Records. Los Angeles home is filled with his parents’ two-track master recordings. “When my parents signed a contract with Columbia [in 1962], part of the deal was that they got the masters back after 25 years,” Lawrence explains. So in the early 1990s, Steve and Eydie digitally transferred those recordings to CD and began selling them on their website through their label, GL Music.  Years later Real Gone Music entered the picture “on and off” until the company’s Co-President Gordon Anderson and Lawrence committed to properly remaster and remix (if possible) their recordings with Columbia.

“I am basically going through which masters are most important to their careers and are in the best physical shape with which to work,” Lawrence says.  The next remix and remaster will most likely be “Don’t Go to Strangers, Gorme’s 1966 seminal album that features her Grammy-winning single “If He Walked Into My Life”.

Another goal: A Legacy series box set of Eydie’s Spanish recordings with the Trio Los Panchos, and a “best of” series for both of them, together and individually. Vinyl collectors take note: There may also be limited-edition vinyl pressings. Anderson and Lawrence promise feedback from fans is important and will help shape future releases. “Real Good Music and I want to make sure that fans will be able to hear these magnificent recordings as pristinely as possible.”

Lawrence pauses. “My Mom and Dad were the first duo to introduce American Popular Music with amazing swing arrangements by the greatest arrangers and orchestrators of the time,” he says. “In that respect, they continued the legacy of this genre that began with Frank Sinatra and Nelson Riddle, only as a Duo. My hope is that these remasters will reach new audiences and continue to thrill their existing audience.”

For more information: realgonemusic.com

“Pack rat” doesn’t begin to describe Andy Warhol . . . Hoarder, indeed!

He wore a toupee and a girdle, suffered from bad, pasty skin and disdained physical contact. Yet he would be seen at all the big events and major openings, rubbing tuxedo-clad elbows with the rich and (in)famous, the high and the sober. He was a celeb’s celeb, posing with, then photographing, the likes of Liza and Dolly and Diana and Liz, then painting their portraits … then asking them for their autographs.

You and I know him as Andy Warhol, the Pop Art prophet whose posthumous profits have earned him first place among artists at auction and who is forever honored with his own artful museum.

Yet to paint an accurate portrait of Andy, we need to forget (just for a few paragraphs) Marilyn and Mao and those dollar signs he so obsessively silk-screened. The real star in Andy’s life was his obsession with “stuff.” He collected everything — and, after a recent visit to the Warhol archives proved — I mean everything.

He was the ultimate Pack Rat, and I don’t use the capitalization lightly.

Starting in 1974 and continuing through 1987, Andy would toss this and that into corrugated cardboard boxes — things he bought, things he was given, things he got for free, things he “borrowed” from hotels — “time capsules,” he called them.

Image 1 - Andy Warhol Signed Photo with Beckett Letter of Authenticity 8" x 11"

Armed with a $650,000 grant from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, The Andy Warhol Museum is embarking on an effort to photograph, digitally scan, catalog and preserve the contents of hundreds of capsules. They’ve already opened and begun to inventory 100, and have 472 more to go, a project that should take six years.

During a recent visit, I browsed through Time Capsule No. 20, the contents of which spanned 1982-85. The latter was the year Andy went to Los Angeles for a guest spot on “The Love Boat” — there’s a healthy stack of unused stationery from Beverly Hills Hotel, a box of bath soap, a pile of phone messages, one of which is from B-actress Mamie Van Doren.

Wearing ill-fitting white gloves that allow me to safely handle the “art,” I open a small sampling of the many letters and notes addressed to the artist (no gossip, no secrets, just cryptic missives from unknowns). There’s a rough skin scraper (bought in Manhattan at Duane Reade), hair dye, mascara, nail polish, lipstick, vials of perfume samples. There’s junk jewelry, a gay porno magazine, a promotional brochure from a Russian airline, several bottles of homeopathic drugs and enough pimple medicine to keep the teens of Fox Chapel acne-free for years.

And I haven’t even begun to snoop what’s on the other shelves.

Some people would call it junk. It’s a word at which archivist and project supervisor Matt Wrbican bristles. “Andy considered the capsules to be works of art — they are pieces of a larger historical timeline,” he  said, adding that the “strangest thing” found to date was a mummified human foot, analyzed by scientists at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and confirmed to be a relic from Ancient Egypt.

But sometimes even timelines show their age, and lines must be drawn. For a Time Capsule, that means destruction. Collections manager Allison Smith reveals the museum junked a “leaking half-empty bottle of Chloraseptic,” but not before the over-the-counter medicine was photographed and all pertinent info logged into the database.

Many people have trashed Warhol while he was alive, but this causes a lump in my throat. Maybe a spritz of Chloraseptic would help?

Matthew points to a sandwich bag of AA batteries that have leaked; they will also hit the garbage bin. “Actually,” he explains, “we’ll put them in a battery recycling program.” Once, of course, they are photographed and cataloged.

I ask nicely if I can have the batteries, sort of an awesome alkaline souvenir from my visit.

I also figure that in some circles, I could claim to have an original Warhol.

I am nicely told, “No.”

I leave empty-handed, but brimming with reminders to do some spring cleaning.

And have that garage sale.

IF YOU GO
The Andy Warhol Museum
117 Sandusky Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15212
412.237.8300
warhol.org

I tell Dolly we are “bosom buddies”. She coos, “and my breast friend”. Dolly’s life busts out on 19 DVDs!!

My next book is entitled Dolly Parton’s Boob in My Hands . . . and Other True, Titillating Stories From My 35 years of Hollywood Hobknobbing.

Let me explain.

I knew Dolly Rebecca Parton and I would become fast friends when she let me hold her left breast. Before you start calling the tabloids or TMZ, let me explain. It was 1987, and we were in a photographer’s studio on the Upper East Side where Dolly was being photographed for the cover of Redbook.

She was dressed in a handmade denim blouse (size 0), the wig was perfectly placed, the makeup flawless. She eyed the catered buffet and picked up a piece of chicken with her two fire-engine red (fake) fingernails, brought it to her mouth and, plop!, the sliver landed on her blouse, smack-dab on her left . . . well, you get the picture.

The adrenaline kicked in. “Quick, Dolly!” I said. “You hold and I’ll wipe.” I poured water on a paper towel and begin to very gently dab the spot. Dolly grabbed a portable hair-dryer and with that infectious giggle cooed, “Now quick! You hold and I’ll dry.”

With those seven simple words, my entry into the dizzy, delightful world of Dolly Parton—40DD-17-36—had begun. “One day,” I thought to myself, “I will live to write about this.”

The shoot was a success, and as Dolly climbed into her limo, I whispered, “I feel like your bosom buddy.” Without missing a beat, she said, “And my breast friend.”

Oh! The stories I can tell.

It’s the sassy and self-effacing side of Dolly that has always made her look better than a body has a right to. “I’m not a natural beauty, so when I started out, I needed to be as flamboyant and outrageous as possible,” she recalls. “My trashy look started from a sincere place — a country girl’s idea of glamour. I always wanted to be sexy even before I knew what the word meant. I thought that town tramps were beautiful. They had more hair, more color, more of everything. And they had men always hanging ’round them. So I copied those girls. And I owe them a lot.”

She giggles. “When I realized my trashy look was working, I kept it. It’s cost me a lot to look so cheap,” she adds. “I wear the fake hair because it’s so tacky. I wear high heels because I have short legs. And I wear fake fingernails because I have short, fat arms. I have no taste and no style and I love it! When I am 90, I’m going to look like Mae West. I may be in a wheelchair, but I’ll still have the big hair, big boobs and big fingernails. I’ll probably end up this way in my coffin. But I won’t be a fat hog!”

You can call her the Queen of Country, an award-winning songwriter, actress, TV star, philanthropist, business mogul, gay icon and American treasure, but to her millions of fans, she’s known simply as Dolly. From her start out of Nashville in the ’60s to her Hollywood debut and beyond Dolly has done it all . . . and in 6 inch heels!

Now, for the first time ever, the incredible highlights of Dolly’s remarkable career are together in a one-of-a-kind 19-DVD set DOLLY: THE ULTIMATE COLLECTION. From her early appearances in the ’60s through her own star-studded variety shows in the ’70s and ’80s, to concerts, interviews, TV appearances and blockbuster collaborations with her closest friends, she’s still going strong and lookin’ spectacular!
“It’s been an amazing journey and you’ll find some of my most precious highlights included here in this collection,” says Dolly. “Thank you to the wonderful folks at Time Life for putting this together. What a delightful trip down memory lane….just the hair styles and outfits alone are worth a look and I’m surprised there are still any rhinestones left in this world! I hope you enjoy these moments as much as I did.”
Time Life cordially invites Dolly Parton fans everywhere to come along on the journey of a lifetime. Available now exclusively at TimeLife.com/DollyParton, this dazzling, carefully curated 19-DVD deluxe collection includes:
  • 22 star-studded episodes of Dolly’s variety shows from the ’70s & ’80s with guest appearances by Oprah Winfrey, Kenny Rogers, Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, Willie Nelson, Freddy Fender, Burt Reynolds, Miss Piggy, Merle Haggard, Smokey Robinson & The Temptations, Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn and more!
  • 7 episodes of The Porter Wagoner Show, from 1967 – 1974 featuring historic Dolly Parton performances including Jolene, I Will Always Love You, Coat of Many Colors, Mule Skinner Blues, and her very first appearance where she sang Dumb Blonde.
  • A special Christmas disc featuring A Down Home Country Christmas with Mac Davis and Burl Ives, and Bob Hope’s Jolly Christmas Show
  • Dolly’s spectacular Live and Well concert from 2002
  • Dolly’s unforgettable Live from London concert from 2009 plus bonus features
  • Rare TV appearances of Dolly throughout her career from The Tonight Show Starring Johnny CarsonThe Oprah Winfrey Show, and Crook & Chase
  • The entire Song by Song: Dolly Parton series, highlighting Dolly’s most iconic songs and how they came to be
  • Bonus features include Dolly’s University of Tennessee Commencement Address and Imagination Library Dedication Ceremony at The Library of Congress
  • Classic duets with Dolly & Porter Wagoner taped live at the Grand Ole Opry
  • Unforgettable Dolly Parton performances from the CMA Awards in the ’70s
  • New bonus features created just for this collection featuring Dolly Parton reminiscing about memorable moments from throughout her career
  • Exclusive, complete, and never before seen interviews with Brandi Carlile, Miley Cyrus, Vince Gill, Miranda Lambert, Brad Paisley, Kellie Pickler, Kenny Rogers, Marty Stuart, Lily Tomlin, and Carrie Underwood!
  • Plus your FREE Bonus DVD with the complete authorized BBC documentary Dolly Parton: Here I Am
  • An Exclusive Collector’s Book filled with photos, Dolly in her own words, and loving tributes from her famous friends.
  • And it all comes in a beautiful Collector’s Box!
Dolly Parton remains as vibrant and relevant as ever. Her songs have captured the hearts of generations. Her electric smile has brightened the lives of millions. And her trademark style is recognized across the globe. Join Time Life for a celebration of her iconic, unforgettable career with DOLLY: THE ULTIMATE COLLECTION, only available via direct response or online at TimeLife.com/DollyParton.
 

Finally, the true and inside story of Hollywood’s forgotten force (and Garbo’s lover), Salka Viertel

Salka Viertel was once the highest paid writer on the MGM lot. She was also Greta Garbo’s lover, for whom she wrote five films.  A side note: So close were they that Viertel  bought a house next door to Garbo; when in 1969 Viertel  published her “autobiography” The Kindness of Strangers, she revealed their true relationship. Garbo never spoke to her again, avoiding her on the streets of New York City.

Garbo’s on the left

For the scores of wartime refugees fleeing persecution under Hitler she opened her doors to, Viertel was a lifeline. A courageous woman with a fascinating life and an incalculable impact on the lives of others, she has been long overdue for her moment in the spotlight.

So we can thank Donna Rifkind, whose biography, The Sun and Her Stars: Salka Viertel and Hitler’s Exiles in the Golden Age of Hollywood(Other Press, $30) shines a light on this remarkable story.

Actress-turned-screenwriter (Viertel declared herself  “neither beautiful nor young enough” to be a movie star), she left Berlin for Hollywood in 1928, bringing with her the bohemian spirit of the Weimar era. She would work with the luminaries of Hollywood’s Golden Age, including George Cukor, Irving Thalberg and David O. Selznick. At her house in Santa Monica she opened her door on Sunday afternoons to scores of European émigrés who had fled from Hitler—such as Thomas Mann, Bertolt Brecht and Arnold Schoenberg—along with every kind of Hollywood star, from Charlie Chaplin to Shelley Winters. In the living room (the only one in town with comfortable armchairs, said one Hollywood insider), countless cinematic, theatrical, and musical partnerships were born. As Nazi domination grew in Europe, Viertel poured herself into the refugee cause, arranging for jobs and affidavits for Jews and anti-fascists seeking safety in America.

Garbo in perhaps her greatest film, “Queen Christina” (1933). Her lover wrote five film for her. Viertel co-wrote the film with Harold Marsh Harwood. She also co-wrote(with Clemence Dane) the 1935 classic “Anna Karenina”, a snatch seen below.

If Viertel’s name has been largely forgotten in America, it is because too few people believed what she accomplished was important. Now, alongside our current moment’s interest  in recovering historically-overlooked women’s creative contributions, investigating women’s ability to survive and flourish in sexist Hollywood, and considering the moral obligations of Americans to displaced people in a world undergoing a vast refugee crisis, the questions Salka asked herself in the ’30s and ’40s about how one should live—and the answers her life exemplified—are as vital as ever.

It’s impossible to understand the true history of Hollywood without knowing the story of the dramatic, courageous figure of Salka Viertel and her rescue mission.

PETRUCELLI PICKS: GIFT GUIDE 2019: THE BEST CELEBRITY TELL-ALLS OF THE YEAR (PART DEUX)

Oh! We so love tattletales, books that reveal the underbellies of stars and singers and criminals and musicians and authors and politicians . . . even if they are written by the celebs themselves.
Our picks for the best of 2019 continue. . .

Herman and Joe Mankiewicz wrote, produced, and directed more than 150 pictures, including triumphs as diverse as the Marx Brothers’ Monkey Business, Pride of the Yankees, the infamous Burton-Taylor Cleopatra and Guys and Dolls. But the witty, intellectual brothers spent their Hollywood years deeply discontented
and yearning for what they did not have, a career in theater.
The Brothers Mankiewicz: Hope, Heartbreak, and Hollywood Classics (Hollywood Legends Series) Herman gambled away his prodigious earnings, got himself fired from all the
major studios, and drank himself to death at the age of 55. Joe was a
critical and financial success, but his philandering with stars like Joan Crawford and Judy Garland distressed his wives, one of whom committed suicide. He wrecked his own health using uppers and
downers in order to direct Cleopatra by day and write it at night, only to be very publicly fired by Darryl F. Zanuck, a humiliation from which he never fully recovered.
What lives! What stories! What delicious drama! It can be found in The Brothers Mankiewicz: Hope, Heartbreak, and Hollywood Classics (University Press of Mississippi, $35).


Blue: The Color of Noise (St. Martin’s Press, $27.99) is the remarkable story―in pictures and words―of Steve Aoki, the superstar DJ/producer who started his career as a vegan straightedge hardcore music kid hellbent on defying his millionaire father, whose unquenchable thirst to entertain―inherited from his dad, Rocky Aoki, founder of Benihana―led him to global success and two Grammy nominations.
Aoki–also known for his outrageous stage antics (cake throwing, champagne spraying, and the ‘Aoki Jump’) and his endearing personality–recounts the epic highs of music festivals, clubs and pool parties around the world, as well as the lows of friendships lost to drugs and alcohol, and his relationship with his flamboyant father. Illustrated with candid photos gathered throughout his life, the book reveals how Aoki became a force of nature as an early social media adopter, helping to turn dance music into the phenomenon it is today.


Throughout her rise to fame and during some of the most pivotal moments of her life, Demi Moore battled addiction, body image issues and childhood trauma that would follow her for years―all while juggling a skyrocketing career and at times negative public perception.  As her success grew, Demi found herself questioning if she belonged in Hollywood, if she was a good mother, a good actress―and, always, if she was simply good enough.
As much as her story is about adversity, it is also about tremendous resilience. In the deeply candid and reflective memoir Inside Out (Harper, $27.99),  Demi pulls back the curtain and opens up about her career and personal life―laying bare her tumultuous relationship with her mother, her marriages, her struggles balancing stardom with raising a family, and her journey toward open heartedness.


In an arresting mix of visceral, soulful storytelling and stunning visuals, Face It (Dey Street Books, $32.50) upends the standard music memoir while delivering a truly prismatic portrait. With all the grit, grime, and glory recounted in intimate detail, the book re-creates the downtown scene of 1970s New York City,
where Blondie–a band that forged a new sound that brought together the worlds of rock, punk, disco, reggae and hip-hop to create some of the most beloved pop songs of all time– played alongside the Ramones, Television, Talking Heads, Iggy Pop and David Bowie. Aesthetically dazzling, and including never-before-seen photographs, bespoke illustrations and fan art installations, Face It brings Debbie Harry’s world and artistic sensibilities to life.


Rollicking but intimate, Still Here (Farrar, Straus and Giroux , $28) tracks one of Broadway’s more outlandish and direct personalities, Elaine Stritch.  We accompany Stritch through her jagged rise to fame, to Hollywood and London, and across her later years, when she enjoyed a stunning renaissance, punctuated by a turn on the popular television show 30 Rock. We explore the influential―and often fraught―collaborations she developed with Noël Coward, Tennessee Williams and above all Stephen Sondheim, as well as her courageous yet flawed attempts to control a serious drinking problem. And we see the entertainer triumphing over personal turmoil with the development of her Tony –winning one-woman show, Elaine Stritch at Liberty, which established her as an emblem of spiky independence and Manhattan life for an entirely new generation of admirers. I’ll drink to that, and one for Mahler!


With her second memoir, Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years (Hachette Books, $30), Julie Andrews picks up the story with her arrival in Hollywood and her years in the film industry, from the incredible highs to the challenging lows.
Not only does she discuss her work in now-classic films and her collaborations with giants of cinema and television, she also unveils her personal story of adjusting to a new and often daunting world, dealing with the demands of unimaginable success, being a new mother, the end of her first marriage, embracing two stepchildren, adopting two more children, and falling in love with the brilliant and mercurial Blake Edwards. Co-written with her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton, and told with Andrews’s trademark charm and candor, Home Work takes us on a rare and intimate journey into an extraordinary life that is funny, heartrending and inspiring.


With candor, humor and warmth, Olivia writes about her life and career and cancer in the must-have Don’t Stop Believin’ (Gallery Books, $28). Available for the first time in the United States, this edition includes a new afterword by Olivia.
She speaks about her childhood, her father’s role in breaking German Enigma codes during World War II,  her feeling about about stardom,her beloved daughter Chloe, meeting the love of her life, and her passion and unwavering advocacy for health and wellness.
“I hope this story of my life from my early years up to today will bring some inspiration and positivity to the reader,” Olivia says. “We all share so many experiences in our own unique way.”
Olivia was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992; the diagnosis “came the same weekend my father died of cancer, so you can imagine the shock”, she remembers. Learn more @ onjcancercentre.org.
Olivia has always radiated joy, hope and compassionate.
She continues to be a force for love, for goodness, for strength, throughout the world.
“I also  believe that when you go through something difficult, even something as dramatic as cancer, that something positive will come of it,” she says.
Don’t stop believin’.


As a young man Frederick Douglass escaped from slavery. He was fortunate to have been taught to read by his slave owner mistress, and he would go on to become one of the major literary figures of his time. His very existence gave the lie to slave owners: with dignity and great intelligence he bore witness to the brutality of slavery.
Douglass spoke widely, using his own story to condemn slavery. By the Civil War, Douglass had become the most famed and widely travelled orator in the nation. In his unique and eloquent voice, written and spoken, Douglass was a fierce critic of the United States as well as a radical patriot.
In Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom (Simon & Schuster, $37.5), David Blight has drawn on new information held in a private collection that few other historian have consulted, as well as recently discovered issues of Douglass’s newspapers. This is an important, compelling biography, the winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in history.


Condé Nast’s life and career was as high profile and glamourous as his magazines. Moving to New York in the early 20th century with just the shirt on his back, he soon became the highest paid executive in the United States, acquiring Vogue in 1909 and Vanity Fair in 1913. Alongside his editors, he built the first-ever international magazine empire, introducing European modern art, style, and fashions to an American audience. Conde Nast: The Man and His Empire (St. Martin’s Press, $32.50) was written with the cooperation of his family on both sides of the Atlantic and a dedicated team at Condé Nast Publications; here Susan Ronald reveals the life of an extraordinary American success story.


Recalling pivotal moments from her dynamic career on the front lines of American diplomacy and foreign policy, Susan E. Rice—National Security Advisor to President Barack Obama and US Ambassador to the United Nations—reveals her surprising story with unflinching candor in Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For (Simon & Schuster, $30).
Rice provides an insider’s account of some of the most complex issues confronting the United States over three decades, ranging from “Black Hawk Down” in Somalia to the genocide in Rwanda and the East Africa embassy bombings in the late ’90s, and from conflicts in Libya and Syria to the Ebola epidemic, a secret channel to Iran, and the opening to Cuba during the Obama years.
Intimate, sometimes humorous, but always candid, Tough Love makes an urgent appeal to the American public to bridge our dangerous domestic divides in order to preserve our democracy and sustain our global leadership.


Before he stole our hearts as the grooming and self-care expert on Netflix’s hit show Queer Eye, Jonathan Van Ness was growing up in a small Midwestern town that didn’t understand why he was so over the top. From choreographed carpet figure skating routines to the unavoidable fact that he was Just. So. Gay., Jonathan was an easy target and endured years of judgement, ridicule and trauma—yet none of it crushed his uniquely effervescent spirit.
Over the Top: A raw Journey to Self-Love  (HarperOne, $27.99) uncovers the pain and passion it took to end up becoming the model of self-love and acceptance that Jonathan is today. In this revelatory, raw, and rambunctious memoir, Jonathan shares never-before-told secrets and reveals sides of himself that the public has never seen.


Twyla Tharp is revered not only for the dances she makes—but for her astounding regime of exercise and non-stop engagement. She is famed for religiously hitting the gym each morning at daybreak, and utilizing that energy to propel her breakneck schedule as a teacher, writer, creator and lecturer. This book grew out of the question she was asked most frequently: “How do you keep working?”
Keep It Moving: Lessons for the Rest of Your Life (Simon & Schuster,  $27) is a series of no-nonsense mediations on how to live with purpose as time passes.
From the details of how she stays motivated to the stages of her fitness routine, Tharp models how fulfillment depends not on fortune—but on attitude, possible for anyone willing to try and keep trying. Culling anecdotes from her life and the lives of other luminaries, each chapter is accompanied by an exercise that helps anyone develop a more hopeful and energetic approach to the everyday.


Common, the man who owns a Grammy, Oscar and Golden Globe, follows up his best-selling memoir One Day It’ll All Make Sense with Let Love Have the Last Word (Atria Books, $26), an inspiring exploration of how love and mindfulness can build communities and allow you to take better control of your life through actions and words.
Common believes that the phrase “let love have the last word” is not just a declaration; it is a statement of purpose, a daily promise. Love is the most powerful force on the planet and ultimately, the way you love determines who you are and how you experience life. He explores the core tenets of love to help others understand what it means to receive and, most important, to give love.  He knows there’s no quick remedy for all of the hurt in the world, but love, for yourself and for others, is where the healing begins.


As part of Motown’s legendary songwriting and production team of Holland-Dozier-Holland, Lamont Dozier is responsible for such classics as “You Can’t Hurry Love;” “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch);” “Stop! In the Name of Love;” “Heat Wave;” “Baby Love;”  “You Keep Me Hanging On;” and on . . . and on.
After leaving Motown, he continued to make his mark as an influential songwriter, artist and producer with hits such as “Give Me Just a Little More Time,” “Band of Gold,” and “Two Hearts,” a chart-topping Phil Collins single that earned the pair a grammy and an Oscar nomination.
In How Sweet It Is: A Songwriter’s Reflections on Music, Motown and the Mystery of the Muse (BMG Books, $27.99) Lamont takes us behind the scenes of the Motown machine, sharing personal stories of his encounters with such icons as Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson and Berry Gordy. He reveals the moments that inspired some of his timeless songs—and pulls back the curtain on the studio secrets that helped him and his colleagues create “the sound of young America.”


P. T. Barnum is the greatest showman the world has ever seen. As a creator of the Barnum & Baily Circus and a champion of wonder, joy, trickery and “humbug,” he was the founding father of American entertainment—and as Robert Wilson argues in Barnum: An American Life (Simon & Schuster, $28), one of the most important figures in American history.
Wilson’s vivid new biography captures the full genius, infamy and allure of the ebullient showman, who, from birth to death, repeatedly reinvented himself. He learned as a young man how to wow crowds, and built a fortune that placed him among the first millionaires in the United States. He also suffered tragedy, bankruptcy, and fires that destroyed his life’s work, yet willed himself to recover and succeed again. As an entertainer, Barnum courted controversy throughout his life—yet he was also a man of strong convictions, guided in his work not by a desire to deceive, but an eagerness to thrill and bring joy to his audiences. He almost certainly never uttered the infamous line, “There’s a sucker born every minute,” instead taking pride in giving crowds their money’s worth and more.


Why shouldn’t we despise the asshole who’s about to be impeached? Protect your wives and daughters since Frump’s proclaimed his  seduction technique is to “grab ’em by the pussy.”  In Golden Handcuffs: The Secret of Trump’s Women (Gallery Books, $28), Nina Burleigh, explores his attitudes toward women by providing in-depth analysis and background on the women who have had the most profound influence on his life—the mother and grandmother who raised him, the wives who lived with him and the ugly daughter who is poised to inherit it all.
Has any president in the history of the United States had a more fraught relationship with women than Donald Trump? He flagrantly cheated on all three of his wives, brushed off multiple accusations of sexual assault, publicly ogled his eldest daughter, bought the silence of a porn star and a Playmate. The books proves is one sick motherfucker.


Winston Churchill called him World War II’s “organizer of victory.” Harry Truman said he was “the greatest military man that this country ever produced.” George Catlett Marshall was America’s most distinguished soldier-statesman since George Washington, whose selfless leadership and moral character influenced the course of two world wars and helped define the American century.
Long seen as a stoic, almost statuesque figure, he emerges in the pages of George Marshall: Defender of the Republic (Dutton Caliber, $34) as a man both remarkable and deeply human, thanks to newly discovered sources.
Set against the backdrop of five major conflicts—two world wars, Palestine, Korea, and the Cold War—Marshall’s education in military, diplomatic and political power, replete with their nuances and ambiguities, runs parallel with America’s emergence as a global superpower. The result is a defining account of one of our most consequential leaders.


In 1975 Andrew Ridgeley took a shy new boy at school under his wing. They instantly hit it off, and their boyhood escapades at Bushy Meads School built a bond that was never broken. As Wham!, R and George Michael, found themselves riding an astonishing roller coaster of success, taking them all over the world. They made and broke iconic records, they were treated like gods, but they stayed true to their friendship and ultimately to themselves. It was a party that seemed as if it would never end.
Wham!, George Michael and Me: A Memoir Hardcover And then it did, in front of tens of thousands of tearful fans at Wembley Stadium in 1986.
With WHAM!, George Michael and Me, (Dutton, $28), one half of one of the most famous bands in the world, tells the inside story of  his lifelong friendship with George Michael, and the formation of a band that changed the shape of the music scene in the early ’80s. Ridgeley ‘s memoir covers in wonderful detail those years, up until that last iconic concert: the scrapes, the laughs, the relationships, the good, and the bad. It’s a unique and one-and-only time to remember that era, that band, and those boys.


 

PETRUCELLI PICKS: GIFT GUIDE 2019: THE BEST CELEBRITY TELL-ALLS OF THE YEAR (PART ONE)

Oh! We so love tattletales, books that reveal the underbellies of stars and singers and criminals and musicians and authors and politicians . . . even if they are written by the celebs themselves.
Our picks for the best of 2019 . . .


Since he never wrote his memoirs and seldom appeared on television, most people have little sense of Mike Nichols’ searching intellect or his devastating wit. They don’t know that Nichols, the great American director, was born Mikail Igor Peschkowsky, in Berlin, and came to this country, speaking no English, to escape the Nazis.
Life isn't everything: Mike Nichols, as remembered by 150 of his closest friends. They don’t know that Nichols was at one time a solitary psychology student, or that a childhood illness caused permanent, life-altering side effects. They don’t know that he withdrew into a debilitating depression before he “finally got it right,” in his words, by marrying Diane Sawyer.
In Life Isn’t Everything: Mike Nichols as Remembered by 150 of His Closest Friends (Henry Holt and Co., $30), Ash Carter and Sam Kashner offer an intimate look behind the scenes of Nichols’ life, as told by the stars, moguls, playwrights, producers, comics and crewmembers who stayed loyal to Nichols for years. This volume is also a snapshot of what it meant to be living, loving, and making art in the 20th century.


Why recommend Free, Melania (Flatiron Books, $27.99) about woman who’s to the most discipicable piece of scum in the world? She’s not stupid. She married the asshole because she got a green card and lots of moolah should he leave her for say, Stormy Daniels.
Free, Melania: The Unauthorized BiographyThis “First Lady” thinks she’s the “new” Jackie Kennedy, mainly because her Sugar Daddy buys her expen$sive duds she could never have afforded if she stayed back in Slovenia. Now that we think about it, use the book for kindling.


A Wild and Precious Life (St. Martin’s Press, $27.99) is remarkable portrait of an iconic woman. Queer Edie Windsor became internationally famous when she sued the U.S. government, seeking federal recognition for her marriage to Thea Spyer, her partner of more than four decades. The Supreme Court ruled in Edie’s favor, a landmark victory that set the stage for full marriage equality in the US. Beloved by the LGBTQ community, Edie embraced her new role as an icon; she had already been living an extraordinary and groundbreaking life for decades.
A Wild and Precious Life: A MemoirIn this memoir, which she began before passing away in 2017 and completed by her co-writer, Edie recounts her childhood in Philadelphia, her realization that she was a lesbian, and her active social life in Greenwich Village’s electrifying underground gay scene during the ’50s. She was also one of a select group of trailblazing women in computing, working her way up the ladder at IBM and achieving their highest technical ranking while developing software.


More notable queer writing: How We Fight for Our Lives (Simon & Schuster, a stunning coming-of-age memoir. Saeed Jones tells the story of a young, black, gay man from the South as he fights to carve out a place for himself, within his family, within his country, within his own hopes, desires, and fears.
How We Fight for Our Lives: A Memoir Through a series of vignettes that chart a course across the American landscape, Jones draws readers into his boyhood and adolescence—into tumultuous relationships with his family, into passing flings with lovers, friends, and strangers. Each piece builds into a larger examination of race and queerness, power and vulnerability, love and grief: a portrait of what we all do for one another—and to one another—as we fight to become ourselves.


Nikki Haley is widely admired for her forthright manner (“With all due respect, I don’t get confused”), her sensitive approach to tragic events and her confident representation of America’s interests as our Ambassador to the United Nations during times of crisis and consequence.
In With All Due Respect (St. Martin’s Press, $29.99), Haley offers a first-hand perspective on major national and international matters, as well as a behind-the-scenes account of her tenure in the Trump administration.
With All Due Respect: Defending America with Grit and GraceThis book reveals a woman who can hold her own―and better―in domestic and international power politics, a diplomat who is unafraid to take a principled stand even when it is unpopular, and a leader who seeks to bring Americans together in divisive times.


We never liked him when he shackled Princess Di. We never liked him when married a horse named Camilla. But we do like King Charles: The Man, the Monarch, and the Future of Britain (Diversion Books, $27.99). With exclusive interviews and extensive research, Robert Jobson debunks the myths about the man who will be king, going beyond banal, bogus media caricatures of Charles to tell his true story.
King Charles: The Man, the Monarch, and the Future of BritainJobson―who has spent nearly 30 years chronicling the House of Windsor, and has met Prince Charles on countless occasions―received unprecedented cooperation from Clarence House, the Prince’s office, in writing this illuminating biography.


Sir Ian McKellen has starred in more than 400 plays and films; he is that rare character, a celebrity whose distinguished political and social service has transcended his international fame to reach beyond the stage and screen.
Ian McKellen: A BiographyThe breadth of his career―professional, personal and political―has been truly staggering; add his tireless political activism in the cause of gay equality and you have a veritable phenomenon. Garry O’Connor’s Ian McKellen: A Biography (St. Martin’s Press, $29.99) probes the heart of the actor, recreating his greatest stage roles and exploring his personal life.


Stan Lee was the most famous American comic book creator who ever lived. A Marvelous Life: The Amazing Story of Stan Lee (St. Martin’s Press, $29.99) presents the origin of “Stan the Man,” who spun a storytelling web of comic book heroic adventures into a pop culture phenomenon: the Marvel Universe.
A Marvelous Life: The Amazing Story of Stan LeeHow he got to that place is a story that has never been fully told―until now. Danny Fingeroth’s  book attempts to answer some of those questions. It is the first comprehensive biography of this powerhouse of ideas who, with his invention of Marvel Comics, changed the world’s ideas of what a hero is and how a story should be told.


Princess Leia is gone, she flew off into the stars in 2016. In Carrie Fisher: A life on the Edge (Sarah Crichton Books , $30) Sheila Weller’s turns her talents to one of the most loved, brilliant, and iconoclastic women of our time: actress, writer, daughter and mother Carrie Fisher.
We follow Fisher’s acting career, from her debut in Shampoo, the hit movie that defined mid-’70s Hollywood, to her seizing of the plum female role in Star Wars, which catapulted her to instant fame. We explore her long, complex relationship with Paul Simon and her relatively peaceful years with the talent agent Bryan Lourd.
Carrie Fisher: A Life on the EdgeWeller sympathetically reveals the conditions that Fisher lived with: serious bipolar disorder and an inherited drug addiction. Still, despite crises and overdoses, her life’s work―as actor, novelist and memoirist, script doctor, hostess and friend―was prodigious and unique. We witness her startling leap―on the heels of a near-fatal overdose―from actress to highly praised, bestselling author, the Dorothy Parker of her place and time.


No one needs to say farewell to Sir Elton John since there are two fascinating book about the original rocket man. In Me (Henry Holt and Co. , $30), his first and only official autobiography, John reveals the truth about his extraordinary life, from the early rejection of his work with song-writing partner Bernie Taupin to spinning out of control as a chart-topping superstar; from half-heartedly trying to drown himself in his swimming pool to disco-dancing with Princess Diana and Queen Elizabeth; from friendships with John Lennon, Freddie Mercury, and George Michael to setting up his AIDS Foundation to conquering Broadway.
Me: Elton John Official Autobiography All the while Elton was hiding a drug addiction that would grip him for over a decade. In Me, Elton also writes powerfully about getting clean and changing.
An ideal companion: Elton John by Terry O’Neill: The Definitive Portrait, With Unseen Images (Cassell, $34.99). John and O’Neill worked together for many years, taking more than 5,000 photographs.
Elton John by Terry O Neill: The definitive portrait with unseen imagesFrom intimate backstage shots to huge stadium concerts, the photographs in this book represent the very best of this archive, with most of the images being shown here for the first time. O’Neill has drawn on his personal relationship with John to write the book’s introduction and captions.


In The Bourbon King: life and Crimes of George Remus, Prohibition’s Evil Genius (Diversion Books, $27.99), Bob Batchelor breathes life into theThe Bourbon King: The Life and Crimes of George Remus, Prohibition's Evil Genius tale of George Remus is a grand spectacle and a lens into the dark heart of Prohibition. That is, before he came crashing down in one of the most sensational murder cases in American history: a cheating wife, the G-man who seduced her and put Remus in jail, and the plunder of a Bourbon Empire. Remus murdered his wife in cold-blood and then shocked a nation winning his freedom based on a condition he invented—temporary maniacal insanity.


JAY-Z: Made in America (St. Martin’s Press, $25.99) is the fruit of Michael Eric Dyson’s decade of teaching the work of one of the greatest poets this nation has produced . . . as gifted a wordsmith as Walt Whitman, Robert Frost and Rita Dove. But as a rapper, he’s sometimes not given the credit he deserves for just how great an artist he’s been for so long.
JAY-Z: Made in AmericaThis book wrestles with the biggest themes of JAY-Z’s career, including hustling, and it recognizes the way that he’s always weaved politics into his music, making important statements about race, criminal justice, black wealth and social injustice. As he enters his fifties, and to mark his thirty years as a recording artist, this is the perfect time to take a look at JAY-Z’s career and his role in making this nation what it is today.


Janis Joplin has passed into legend as a brash, impassioned soul doomed by the pain that produced one of the most extraordinary voices in rock history. But in Janis: Her Life and Music (Simon & Schuster, $28.99), Holly George-Warren provides a revelatory and deeply satisfying portrait of a woman who wasn’t all about suffering. Janis was a perfectionist: a passionate, erudite musician who was born with talent but also worked exceptionally hard to develop it.
Janis: Her Life and MusicShe was a woman who pushed the boundaries of gender and sexuality long before it was socially acceptable. She was a sensitive seeker who wanted to marry and settle down—but couldn’t, or wouldn’t. She was a Texan who yearned to flee Texas but could never quite get away—even after becoming a countercultural icon in San Francisco.


 

Wanna work at MedExpress? Consider, instead, playing in a dog house. Read on!

Hmmm, looks empty to me. Where are the dogs?

Jacque DeRubbo loves Maverick, her German Shepherd, almost as much as her husband hates the dog.
In fact her husband hates all dogs.
Jaclyn likes to dress Maverick in caps and sunglasses and other assorted clothing and accessories. And she’s thinking of dressing him (the dog, not the hubby)  as James Garner (as Bret Maverick) for Halloween.
How do I know such frivolous fodder?
Jaclyn claims she is the “Manager” of the MedExpress on Mossside Blvd. in Monroeville, PA. MedExpress is one of those drop-in medical centers that you rush into if you (a) have no money; (b) have no insurance: (c) like waiting in an airport-like lounge  for a few hours.
Jaclyn claims she also “oversees” another such “urgent care” joint in Monroeville, as well as one in Murraysville (PA).
How she ever gets “work” done is something I have wondered about for the last couple of weeks.
Let me explain.
Knowing I was in-between books, I was contacted by MedExpress to gauge my interest in working part-time . . . their “part-time” consists of a 12-hour days.
This nightmare began with an email from “Rebecca Burroughs”, who claimed to be a  MedExpress “Recruitment Coordinator”. She called me, “interviewed me” and asked me if I wanted an in-person interview with “Melissa”.
Oops! An email later, she said she “misspoke” and that Melissa was actually Jaclyn. “Please let me know if you have any questions”, she cooed in an email. “We look forward to your interview!”
And so I went to meet Jaclyn/Melissa.
She was late for the interview; she arrived with a woman named Terri, who she had hired to be the manager of the Butler (PA) joint.
Terri is also a dog lover.
Stay with me.
The interview lasted 2 hours and 18 minutes . . . and at least 120 minutes of the “professional” interview was devoted to dog drama. Jaclyn/Melissa and Terri pulled out their cell phones to show off pooch photos. Over and over and over again.
Was I on Candid Camera?
These broads were too young to know Candid Camera. No?
But Jaclyn/Melissa remembered the day she had to reprimanded a doctor when he didn’t wear navy blue scrubs (“And they have to be navy blue!”).
And she knew remembered the day she reprimanded a front office associate about “talking too much to customers”. I’d thought she’d use the word “clients”, but I was barking up the wrong tree.
I felt like I was watching a Fellini flick. Or starring in a Marx. Bros. comedy, with me as Harpo, the silent one.
This is how professional interviews are held?
I didn’t get the job.
I didn’t want it.
Yet I knew I had a tale to tell when I left the doghouse diatribe.
What surprised me even  more was that MedExpress didn’t spend even a medicated minute to tell me, “Thanks, but no thanks”.
I emailed corporate media relations, asking for the reason for such unprofessionalism.
No one ever got back to me.
I mailed Rebecca and asked why all that time wasted.
Her last email: “I am sorry to hear of your displeasure.  While the recruitment process can seem lengthy at times, it is never a waste of our time to thoroughly screen and interview qualified candidates.  So it is disappointing to hear you feel it was a waste of your time.  I will speak with my team on how we can improve our process”.
Perhaps I should have sat, rolled over and licked their faces?
Or kissed their asses?