Tag Archives: celebrity

Review: Year of Yes

year-of-yes-9781476777092_hr-476Recap: When Grey’s Anatomy/ Scandal/ How to Get Away With Murder writer/ creator/ producer/ extraordinaire Shonda Rhimes realized she said “no” a lot, she decided something needed to change. Her sister had pointed out to her during Thanksgiving a few years ago that Shonda Rhimes, the woman who runs ABC’s Thursday night TV show lineup, may have been saying “yes” to more work and more amazing shows — and for that, we are forever grateful — but she wasn’t doing much for herself or her children. When she came to this shocking revelation, she decided that for one year, she would say “yes” to anything and everything that scared her.

And she so wonderfully documented it all for us. She said “yes” to attending events and giving speeches that she would normally turn down without hesitation. She said “yes” to watching what she ate and taking care of her health for the first time in years — and lost a ton of weight doing it. She said “yes” to doing what she wanted, even if that meant losing some friends along the way and ending a relationship. She said “yes” to playing with her children more often. She said “yes” to getting help from a nanny. And then she said “yes” to putting it in a book so we could learn the ways of her almighty awesomeness and badassery.

Analysis: My telling you many of the things Shonda Rhimes said “yes” to does not ruin the book in any way because this book is about so much more than saying “yes” to your fears. It’s about finding yourself and growing up, even when you think you already have. Year of Yes is a unique combination of memoir and self-help book that not only inspires, but energizes. I learned so much about Shonda Rhimes’ life and world, including all the fun details and anecdotes I’d hope for from any memoir. She writes a lot about her family, her career, and her kinship with the character she created, Christina Yang. But I also found that I had some of the same fears as Rhimes does, the same fears that many women have.

This book taught me how to take a compliment (because I deserve it!), and it taught me that difficult conversations are important to have, even if you think you might lose a friend (he/she probably wasn’t a very good one anyway!). I gained a new outlook and perspective from this book. And what’s better: it’s written in the very way Rhimes writes her TV shows. It felt familiar. Rhimes felt like my friend. It was like I could hear Ellen Pompeo as Meredith Grey or Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope saying certain sections of the book out loud. It became clear to me how much of Rhimes’ personality comes out in her TV characters, so it was nice, for once, to see her come out of her shell through this book instead of hiding behind one of her characters.

MVP:  Shonda Rhimes. Publishing a book like is courageous. I couldn’t help but think of all the formerly close friends of hers buying this book and reading the sections about them. Putting it all out there is a scary thing. It is the ultimate “yes,” and Rhimes astounded me by doing it.

Get Year of Yes in paperback for $8.46.

Or get it on your Kindle for $12.99.

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New Memoir from ‘Matilda,’ ‘Mrs. Doubtfire’ Alum

mara-1You may not remember the name Mara Wilson, but you’ll remember her when you see the cover of her new book. The now grownup, out-of-the-limelight child actress is due to release a book of essays in September about growing up as the girl who starred in both Matilda and Mrs. Doubtfire, among other movies, according to Entertainment Weekly.

Mara Wilson has left the industry, but apparently has become quite the witty writer over the years. Where Am I Now? will include anecdotes about Wilson’s first kiss, learning about sex, her mother’s death and accepting herself.

She’s one of those people whom I forgot existed, but I was such a huge fan of her movies growing up, I can’t imagine not reading her memoir. I’ve got to think she has a lot of interesting stories to tell.

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‘Hamiltome’ Sold Out on Amazon

51figkm9nulThree days in, and the long-awaited book Hamilton: The Revolution — nicknamed Hamiltome — is already out of stock on Amazon, according to Entertainment Weekly.

The book, by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter, is the entire script of the smash Broadway hit show Hamilton, including annotations by Miranda. The audiobook version of it is partially read by Miranda and — funnily enough — by apparent Hamilton super fan and actress Mariska Hargitay.

Grand Central Publishing has already ordered its third printing of the book. Those who order it now will have to wait about nine to twelve days to get their copy. In the meantime, here are some of audio clips from the book to hold you over until you get your copy! 

Place your order for Hamiltome in hardcover for $24. 

Or on your Kindle for $16.99.

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RIP Alan Rickman, the Man Who Brought Severus Snape to Life

severus-snape-in-alan-rickman-s-own-words-is-one-of-the-most-heart-felt-tributes-you-will-429332Just four days after the birthday of the character he became famous for playing, British actor Alan Rickman has died of cancer at the age of 69.

Rickman is known for his roles in many movies, including Die Hard, Robin Hood, and Love Actually, but for most millennials, he’s probably best known for playing Severus Snape in the Harry Potter movies, which is why for many other 20-somethings and myself, hearing the news of his death this morning came as a complete — and painful — shock.

Rickman’s portrayal of Snape was much more than just a role acted out on screen. It was the personification of a character that is so meaningful to children and literature. Snape was the first character I loved to hate. He teaches children the complexity of adulthood and shows how childhood affects who you become as an adult. Snape represents the idea that people aren’t always who they seem and that there is inherent good and evil in all of us. Rickman excelled at bringing this complexity to the screen and emotion to our hearts.

The entire Harry Potter series is nostalgic for many of us, who have either read the books, seen the movies or both. The death of an actor who is so representative of a beloved character makes it feel like part of my childhood ended today. But there is also some tragic beauty that comes with the thought that Rickman has possibly met Snape in his death.

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling tweeted about Rickman’s death today, but several years ago when the Potter films were completed, Rickman wrote a letter for Empire Magazine, in which he wrote this about Rowling: “It is an ancient need to be told stories. But the story needs a great storyteller.” The same could be said for Rickman — another storyteller in his own right. Thank you, Alan Rickman. And Severus Snape. Always.

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Amy Schumer the Next Comedienne To Pen Memoir

In the growing list of female comedians who already have or plan to pen memoirs or books of essays — Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, Lena Dunham, Anna Kendrick — we now have another to add to the list: Amy Schumer.

Who’s surprised? Not me! She’s had a fantastic year, and now Entertainment Weekly is reporting her book, The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, sold for between $8-10 million. Apparently her book was shopped to publishers all over Manhattan, but Simon & Schuster imprint Gallery Book finally put in the highest bid.

No word on when the book is set to be published, but I think it’s safe to say it’s bound to be a bestseller!

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Review: Stories I Only Tell My Friends

Recap: Rob Lowe has always wanted to act, ever since he was a young boy growing up in Ohio. So when he hits it big by the time he’s 15, but not as big as some of his other friends and colleagues — like say, Matt Dillon or Sarah Jessica Parker — it can be disheartening. But then the Brat Pack happens. And then Rob Lowe’s teen hearthrobbiness happens, soon to be followed by relationships and sex scandals and boozy vacations and — oh yeah — more movies.

Following Rob Lowe’s life through his first memoir opened my eyes (technically ears since I listened to the audiobook read by the author) to crazy stories that I would never have believed if I hadn’t read the memoir myself. Like how Rob Lowe encourage JFK Jr. to marry his then-girlfriend Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy. Or how he dated a princess he’d always had a crush on. Or how someone he knew was murdered shortly after he left their mansion. Or how he was on the same plane as some of the 9/11 terrorists the week before 9/11 happened.

Crazy things have happened to Rob Lowe — and what’s more, he’s been through the true ups and downs of the industry. He’s starred in hit TV shows and movies and ones that have bombed. He’s also starred in ones in which his parts have been almost entirely cut. He’s a recovering alcoholic. He had one of the first sex tape scandals. And yet, he also has a beautiful family and a wife of 20+ years for which he obviously cares deeply. He can do drama and comedy. He’s a force to be reckoned with, who you may or may not have paid much attention. But after having read this book, I can say this: he’s worth paying attention to.

Analysis: The reason Stories I Only Tell My Friends is so perfect is because it’s exactly what you want in a celebrity memoir — details on the scandals and addictions in that person’s life, behind the scenes knowledge of their most popular work, and an honest look at the kind of person he or she really is.

My favorite part was the section on Lowe’s West Wing days — a section which any West Wing fan would appreciate. But there’s also the section on SNL and the one on Austin Powers. And then, suddenly I realized how much Rob Lowe has been a part of the landscape for years, right under my nose and I never truly appreciated him until now.

He’s such a beautiful specimen of man, I’ve had a hard time thinking of him as anything more than that. To me, he was always a pretty face that happened to act. This book made me appreciate how hard he’s worked and how talented he is, especially to bounce back and forth between comedy and drama. Add all the personal stuff he’s been through, and he’s truly an amazing man. Okay. I’m rambling now. But you get the idea. This book encompasses him in a way that makes me feel like I’m one of Rob Lowe’s friends. Wait. With a title like Stories I Only Tell My Friends, maybe that’s the point.

Get Stories I Only Tell My Friends in paperback for $12.01.

Or on your Kindle for $9.99.

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Jack Black, David Oyelowo Voicing Audiobooks

Having recently listened to an audiobook (stay tuned for a review coming next week!), i know the value of the perfect person voicing the book to which you’re listening. That’s why this news is all the more significant. ‘

According to Entertainment Weekly, actors Jack Black and David Oyelowo are both voicing audiobooks.

Jack Black is reading and recording The Little Shop of Monsters, a picture book created by Goosebumps and Arthur creators R.L. Stine and Marc Brown. The book already came out this Tuesday.

David Oyelowo is voicing the latest James Bond novel, Trigger Mortis. You might think he’s the first black actor to voice Bond, but actually he’s not. Hugh Quarshie did the famous spy’s voice in the Dr. No audiobook that was released in 2012. But that doesn’t mean the concept of a black actor playing Bond is lost on anyone. In fact, there are several talks and much speculation about Daniel Craig’s next replacement being a black actor. But for now, it’s Oyelowo who holds all the cards.

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Another Slew of Celebrity Memoirs

It happens every few years now — or really, maybe every few months — that a slew of young celebrities write and publish memoirs. In recent memory, those published by female comics have been the most successful. (Think: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Lena Dunham and Mindy Kaling.) But in the coming year, the waters will be tested by actresses, singers, and writers who are all set to release memoirs.

According to Entertainment Weekly, Glee star Naya Rivera is set to release a memoir, entitled Sorry, Not Sorry: Dreams, Mistakes and Growing Up. Hers will detail her career ups and downs as well as her time spent on the popular Fox TV show, Glee, which ended its run earlier this year. Rivera’s book is set to be released next spring.

Entertainment Weekly also reports actress Gabourey Sidibe, best known for her turn in the Oscar-winning film Precious and the new Fox TV show Empire, is also working on a memoir. Hers is due out in 2017.

We can expect yet another memoir from singer/songwriter Sara Bareilles, according to Entertainment Weekly. Hers will be a book of essays, detailing her life and the stories behind many of her songs. Sounds Like Me: My Life (So Far) In Song is set to be released October 6th of this year.

Finally, Variety reports TV show creator/writer/producer Shonda Rhimes will also be releasing a memoir sometime this year. No release date has been announced, but Rhimes says hers will focus on how she’s managed her career as a single mother.

Now here’s the thing about memoirs. While I’m fascinated by young celebrities, I don’t usually feel that their life experiences warrant a decent memoir. So I’m hesitant to read Rivera’s or Sidibe’s. Wait until you’re old! Wait until you have more to talk about!

Sara Bareilles gets a pass because an explanation of songs is always fun. But more importantly, I expect more from her and Shonda Rhimes because they’re professional writers. The reason Fey, Poehler, Dunham and Kaling have all had successful books isn’t just because they’re funny females; it’s because they’re skilled at writing. A memoir is just a sidestep away from a TV or movie script.

I guess we’ll see how my predictions of more success with Rhimes and Bareilles’ memoirs hold up…

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Review: Then Again

Recap: I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Diane Keaton is one of the most iconic actresses of the last 50 years. She set the bar high in Annie Hall and The Godfather and has continued to make great movies in her later years, including The First Wives Club and Something’s Gotta Give. So when I decided to read her memoir, I couldn’t wait to read about her experiences in those films. As a reader, I got glimpses into those moments — like the smallest bit of acknowledgment she received from Marlon Brando and her relationships with Woody Allen, Warren Beatty and Al Pacino. But it wasn’t enough.

As the book went on, it became clear that writing this memoir must have been a cathartic experience for Keaton, who wrote a lot about the loss of her parents to cancer and Alzheimer’s and the adoption of her children at the age of 50. Don’t get me wrong; the way she writes about her family is beautiful and descriptive. (By the end I knew the names of all her siblings.) But it wasn’t what I expected or necessarily wanted to learn more about in the memoir.

Analysis: Keaton’s nonchalance about her acting and career comes off as modest, which is mostly cute and refreshing, if not slightly self-depracating. While I can understand her disbelief over making it to where she is, it’s still hard for me to believe at this point that she doesn’t think she’s a great actress. Maybe if she had included more about her acting experiences, I would better understand how she feels about them and how she sees herself.

That said, there is something to be said about the interesting format in which she chose to tell her story. She includes entries from her mother’s journal, letters written between her mother and herself, and letters she has begun to write to her own children. At times the format is confusing. It’s difficult to keep up with whose voice we’re reading from — hers or her mother’s. But as annoying as it is to hear so much from her mother’s point of view, it does help to further explore and explain Keaton’s upbringing and her relationship with her mother.

Get Then Again in paperback for $13.51.

Or get it on your Kindle for $11.99.

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No R-E-S-P-E-C-T for Aretha Franklin In New Biography

Some people just can’t get any respect.

According to Entertainment Weekly, soul singer Aretha Franklin is claiming to be one of those people, after she says a new unauthorized biography about her is “trashy” and “full of lies.”

David Ritz wrote the new biography, entitled Respect: The Life of Aretha Franklin. In it, he writes that Franklin dealt with teenage pregnancies, family dysfunction, and alleged alcoholism. He also claims that she’s jealous of singers like Diana Ross and Whitney Houston.

Franklin then released this statement:

“As many of you are aware, there is a very trashy book out there full of lies and more lies about me. Clearly the writer has no class, no conscience or standards! His actions are obviously vindictive because I edited out some crazy statements he had the gall to try and put in my book written 15 years ago. Evidently, he has been carrying this hatred ever since.”

Interestingly, this is not the first biography Ritz has written about Aretha Franklin. He penned her authorized biography, Aretha: From These Roots back in 1999. He also wrote the album notes on her 1992 box set release of Queen of Soul: The Atlantic Recordings.

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