This book hit hard, it was a book that makes a person think
twice and it was so well-written and fact-checked by Sam Wasson… It’s worth
remembering on showbiss.net. Here’s my review.
An actor, a director, a producer and screenwriter meet up in
a restaurant. The waiter says, “What would you like to order?” Well, the actor
says, “We’ll all have the Chinatown special.” The reality of the scenario in
this case: the actor is Jack Nicholson, the director is Roman Polanski, the
screenwriter is Robert Towne and the producer at Paramount is Robert Evans.
What is cooking is the now classic creation of the 1974 motion picture
In Sam Wasson’s excellent, thorough and telling book, he winds through the hills of Mulholland Drive, weaves through the complicated streets leading to Sunset Blvd. and presents an absorbing character portrait of the men and women involved. He presents an intrinsic and factual story of the transformation of big business in tinsel town and the personal stories of the four key players and their lives. Wasson’s attention to detail and nuance makes The Big Goodbye: Chinatown and the Last Years of Hollywood a fascinating expose of Jack Nicholson, Roman Polanski, Robert Towne and Robert Evans and everyone on the scene involved in friendships, power struggles, creativity and egos and for some, ultimate tragedy. Yes… Faye Dunaway is also recollected and the cast, creative team and even her friend and co-star Jack Nicholson had given her the nickname “Dread.” What the hell, Sam Wasson took the time to bring the facts and the history into the making of Chinatown and the corresponding years before and after the film was released into a stunning bird’s eye view presenting a behind-the-scenes look at all the windy roads into making this film and how the movie industry changed during and after this time.
As of now; only former Head of Production at Paramount Studios, Robert Evans has passed away but the memories and accomplishments of all of these men in both filmmaking, writing, acting and knowing how to create a lasting legacy are remarkable. The book is a fitting testament to the people, the industry and as a worthwhile read for those who want to discover more about the elusive reality of the creation of the film Chinatown and the Hollywood story that is told by Sam Wasson. It was a time of turmoil and joy that in its heart, details the scene of deals, personalities, talent and discovery in Los Angeles. For those who want to know more about what some consider one of the greatest crime films of intrigue and a classic presentation of film noir… look no further than The Big Goodbye: Chinatown and the Last Years of Hollywood.
The Little Book of
Marilyn is big on inspiration. Michelle Morgan has created a veritable
treasure trove of all things “Monroe.” The book encompasses the ideals that are
purely Marilyn’s. Running from style, beauty and what she continued to strive
for with her own life skills. The photos included are phenomenal and as
refreshing as Michelle Morgan’s passionate and informative writing. As Monroe
said in The S even Year Itch standing
over the subway grate…”Oh! Do you feel the breeze from the subway? Isn’t it delicious?”
Well, The Little Book of Marilyn surely
Showbiss: Congratulations as The Little Book of Marilyn is out!
What inspired you to write your latest book on Monroe?
Michelle Morgan: Running Press was in the process of
publishing a book called The Little Book
of Bettie Page, and looking to expand the Little Book series. It was my editor’s idea to do a Marilyn version
and she asked if I had any ideas for what I might put into it. Did I?!! I could
have filled an encyclopedia with ideas! I put together a little proposal for her
and we brainstormed back and forth and then the project was eventually
commissioned. I was ecstatic to be able to write the book because it is very
different to anything I’ve written about Marilyn before. My other books have
all been serious insights into Marilyn’s life and career, whereas this book
enabled me to be creative and do things I’d never done before – like think
about what Marilyn-related items we could create, for instance!
Showbiss: I was taken aback by the amount of photos in your
“little book.” They sure pack a wallop. Running Press did a beautiful job. Did
you have a photo editor there who matched what you were creating when you wrote
this book? Or how did this work?
MM: I was incredibly pleased with the amount of photos that
Running Press wanted to put into the book! I chose all of them myself, from
three sources that were provided to me by the publisher. I tried my hardest to
include some that were rarely seen and of course some fantastic, colorful
classics! In addition to the Marilyn photos, we also have fan pictures and then
photos to accompany the tutorials, too. I organized the shoots for the
tutorials and then fans sent me photos of their collections etc. It was a huge
amount of paperwork to keep everything organized and moving forward, but it was
so much fun, too. The designer did a fabulous job, I must say. I love
everything she did – from the background colors to the fonts, layouts and
Showbiss: The back of the book is geared towards, as it
says, “today’s woman.” Regardless of sex or identity I think Marilyn fans
across the board can enjoy it. What are your thoughts on this?
MM: Oh I completely agree! I’ve heard from several gentlemen
who say they have been very much inspired by the book – especially the life skills
section – and I’m terribly excited about that. I do believe there is something
for everyone in this book… For instance, my teenage daughter never reads my
books, but she read every word of the make-up and hair tutorial!
Showbiss: The “Life Skills” chapter is one I keep going back
to. Please share the process of writing this chapter. I think it’s some of your
most thoughtful and informative writing on her.
MM: Thank you so much! I really do appreciate your kind
words and I’m thrilled that you think so. When I first wrote that chapter, it
was much smaller because I had a word limit for the project and I needed to
think about distributing it all evenly. However, when my editor read the first
draft, she suggested we make much more of this particular chapter and add
different skills to the mix. I completely agreed and once I had permission to
add the extra words, I was happy to expand it. I took inspiration from
Marilyn’s life and also the things that people had told me about her. For
instance, in the Be Kind to Animals and Children section, I wrote that Marilyn
used to throw stranded fish back into the water and then about her determination
to scare a hawk away from a family of swallows. Both of those incidents were
told to me by people who witnessed them and I think it showed just how caring
and sympathetic she was to the lives of other living beings. I hope that the
Life Skills chapter can inspire others to care more about the world around them
and to take strength from Marilyn’s perspective on life.
Showbiss: Another aspect of your book is the Marilyn
Remembered Facebook Group who are mentioned. Was this a part of your plan for
the book initially?
MM: Oh yes, definitely. I wanted to show just how much
Marilyn is loved all around the world, by people just like me. I have known
Greg Schreiner since the early 1990s, when we used to exchange letters
occasionally. I was always so thrilled to hear from Greg – he’s a superstar in
the Marilyn community – so to be able to feature his words and photos in the
book was just wonderful. I loved being able to talk to people who have been
inspired by Marilyn either as a fan, a tribute artist or both. When I was 15
years old, it felt as though I was the only Marilyn fan in the world. Now of
course the Internet has brought people closer, but I wanted to highlight
specific fans so that maybe those young teenage fans who don’t have access to
Facebook yet, can see that they’re not alone and that there is actually a whole
world of people who feel the same way about Marilyn as they do. It was also
lovely to include the fans’ stories, thoughts and photos because I knew it
would mean a lot to them to be able to express themselves in print, just as it
means a lot to me as well.
Showbiss: Finally, please share your favorite Marilyn Monroe
quote. I know there are many but just pick one.
MM: Oh that’s a great question!! I do have a lot of favorite
quotes, but I’ll choose this one: “I’d like to be known as a real actress and
human being.” I think this expresses Marilyn perfectly and it is something that
is still relevant today, since some people still don’t see her as either a real
actress or a human being! I hope that by writing about Marilyn and continuing
to educate people, that attitude will change. If my books change the mind of
even one person, then I’m doing my job.
Showbiss: Congrats again Michelle. A really enjoyable read.
Michelle Morgan: Thanks so much Bill! I loved answering the questions!
Just one of many of Aesop’s Fables was titled “The Lion and the Mouse.” This fable came to mind when reading a touching and emotional true story written by Dr. Rock Positano called Dinner with DiMaggio. “The Lion and the Mouse” is a timeless, imaginary fable revealing that mercy and care can bring its own rewards. How does this fable coincide with and take on life’s realities as an “honest-to-God” true tale of life and the experience of living it? You take an innovative medical doctor who is advancing his non-surgical foot and ankle practice of medicine. He comes to the aid of a giant of baseball and its history… Called Joe DiMaggio. A man and person in a league of his own.
This true icon of American sports was suffering with a foot ailment because of a botched surgery on his right heel. This surgery back in 1949, took his glory days of being a New York Yankee star performer, away. A referral to Mr. DiMaggio led to Dr. Positano’s astute help in relieving the pain and eventually leading to a “tried and true” friendship over the last ten years of “Joltin’ Joe’s” life.
This friendship and the two men’s similarity of upbringing, code of ethics and genuine regard for each other, is naturally and respectfully presented in Dr. Rock Positano’s book. A complex and private man, DiMaggio kept his guard up when it came to people and real friendships. He also completely respected his role as a guardian of the sport’s world and the men who excelled in baseball’s history. DiMaggio could be sharp as a tack and also very concerned about the history of the game. Class, reserve and a knowing intelligence that was both street-wise and intuitive…. It was his sense of people that slowly and steadily forged a relationship of trust, admiration and truths over those dinners and time spent with Dr. Rock Positano.
Don’t expect anything from Dr. Positano’s true story except an honest appreciation and respect for Joe DiMaggio. The book is a shared look at two very “stand-up” guys who happened to collide at a time where fate and good fortune would lead to memories such as those presented in “Dinner with DiMaggio.” Oh… If you’re looking for a few memories of Joe and Marilyn… even Dr. Positano knew that was a closed book of “love lost.”