Friday, May 15, 2020

Forty Good Reasons

Big sale on all McFarland Pop Culture titles ends Sunday -- don't miss out!

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Kind Words

I'm pleased by the warm response given by two early reviewers of Pine-Thomas Productions: A History and Filmography. First up was Booklist, published by the American Library Association, which called it "a treat for serious film buffs and students." Not far behind was the January issue of Classic Images, saying, "If you love B movies, this is for you ... David C. Tucker did an exceptional job of bringing the Two Dollar Bills to life and honoring their work."

If you're interested in meeting a fascinating bunch of characters -- on both sides of the screen -- I hope you'll give it a look.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, November 10, 2019

20 Good Reasons...

My illustrious publisher has announced an early start to its annual holiday sale. You can score 20% off any title in the McFarland catalog using the coupon code shown below:
Buy a book for me, buy a book by me -- I'll be happy either way!

Friday, November 8, 2019

Books on Wheels

Do you have a "car book"? One that rides around day after day in your vehicle, readily available to fill those dull moments in the doctor's waiting room, or while away the time as you stand in line at the post office?
Here's my current vehicular read, Hollywood Divas: The Good, the Bad, and the Fabulous, by my longtime friend and mentor James Robert Parish. It provides just the right combination of juicy gossip and solid research. In those ten spare minutes, you can learn all about the most outrageous moments of a major Hollywood star.

And if the world keeps you waiting too long, you can gather a few ideas for how to demand the respect to which you're entitled. Just keep in mind, though, Zsa Zsa Gabor did end up in the hoosegow...

What's your current car book?

Friday, October 4, 2019

A Tale of Two Memoirs

Sally Field
Just by happenstance, I recently read the memoirs of two well-respected actresses -- Sally Field's In Pieces, published last year, and the late Valerie Harper's I, Rhoda, which came out in 2013. Both actresses enjoyed early success in TV comedy before going on to more varied work, and both have had their share of tough times. But the bottom line, from my reading chair, is that Ms. Harper's book left me respecting and liking her even more than I already did. My reaction to Ms. Field's story was quite different.
Valerie Harper
In Pieces is the account of an actress who bitterly resented many of the roles she was given, and takes herself very, very seriously. I am struggling to remember anyone for whom she expressed warmth or gratitude in a 400-page book. That an actress serious about her craft might find The Flying Nun somewhat frustrating is perfectly understandable. But her disdain for a show like Brothers and Sisters (and, by implication, the viewers who liked it) just reflects poorly on her.

I, Rhoda reads like a friendly, candid chat with a woman who appreciates the opportunities she was given and made the most of them. It is nicely balanced between the professional and personal, and satisfying on both counts. She's no Pollyanna; her account of her lawsuit against Lorimar over the Valerie series is incisive and reveals a smart, tenacious, principled professional.

I think Valerie Harper took time to consider how to make her book something fans would enjoy. Too often, Sally Field's memoir reads like the notes from her therapy sessions -- for which she would now like to send readers the bill.

Monday, September 30, 2019

New Book on S. Sylvan Simon in 2020

It's official. My ninth book for McFarland & Co., coming in 2020, covers the life and films of producer/director S. Sylvan Simon (1910-1951). If you love Lucille Ball, Abbott and Costello, or Red Skelton, this is for you. 

Lucy (pictured with Simon) credited him with recognizing and honing her slapstick skills (prior to I Love Lucy), when he directed Her Husband’s Affairs (1947) and produced The Fuller Brush Girl (1950). Skelton called Simon his favorite director. From 1949 to 1951, Simon was Vice-President in charge of production at Columbia, second-in-command to the famously demanding Harry Cohn. In that capacity, he produced Born Yesterday (1950), which won its star Judy Holliday an Oscar. Just before Simon's untimely death, he was assigned to produce From Here to Eternity (1953), and had author James Jones as a house guest while they conferred.

Research for the book is enhanced by access to Mr. Simon’s own bound copies of his film scripts, annotated by hand, as well as rare photographs showing him and his stars at work. It is being written with the support and assistance of Simon’s children. Actresses Margaret O'Brien and Jane Powell are among the interviewees who share their memories of this talented man.
A page from Simon's script for I Love Trouble (1948).
Earlier this year, film historian and blogger David Cairns remarked, "The auteurists have been quiet too long about S. Sylvan Simon." Next year, let's see if we can make a little noise on Simon's behalf.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

A Very Special Review

After a whole lotta work (and quite a bit of fun), my eighth book was released a few days ago by McFarland.

It's too soon to know how readers and reviewers will respond to the book. But here's the reaction it received from Bill Pine's granddaughter:

 "As the third generation in the film business, I'm grateful this book truly captures the spirit and philosophy of my grandfather, his partner Bill, and the movies they made. 'The Dollar Bills' would be pleased."

So am I. Pleased and grateful.