Tag Archives: Tina Fey

Movie vs. Book: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

tina-fey-whiskey-foxtrot-tangoKim Barker has a fine life — boring, but fine. She works for a newspaper. She has a boyfriend that she might, kind of like. She’s in her 30’s, but she’s as lost as a teenager. Then 9/11 happens. Suddenly, she has found new meaning. She’s going to Afghanistan to cover the war on terror for The Chicago Tribune. 

Kim Barker’s memoir of her years covering the war in Afghanistan — or as she calls it, The Forgotten War — is as real as it gets. It’s full of bombings, political corruption, shootings and journalist kidnappings. But hers is also the story of “Kabul High” as she likes to call it — partying, heavy drinking and drugs, competition amongst reporters, adrenaline rushes, hookups and backstabbing. She tells the stories we don’t expect to be happening between reporters and their sources and reporters amongst themselves. But it does happen. It’s the rush of it all that sucks Kim in to the Middle East and keeps her from returning home to the U.S. for more than six years.

In Barker’s memoir, she tells her story in vignettes — an interview with a warlord here, a failed vacation with her boyfriend there, but there’s no plot, per se. It’s more of a diary of her experiences abroad and a depiction of her inability to leave what’s become her new home.

The movie, however, changes that, and that may be for the best. Tina Fey as Barker is a perfect fit — a little bit of hot mess, but still focused on her work and a good woman overall. The movie adds a little drama to the story — making the several journalist kidnappings at the end of the memoir the main plot of the film, when it happens to a boyfriend of Barker’s who never actually existed in real life. In fact, the movie combines several of the men in Barker’s life into one hunky journalist boyfriend. It also creates a fellow female journalist with whom Barker has a competitive frenemy relationship. The movie also makes Barker a TV journalist. All of this does nothing, but add plot and pizzazz.

While typically, I like a movie to stay true to a book — especially if that book is a memoir, in this case, I thought the movie did a good job in adding what the book lacked. The memoir — while interesting — is dense and gives a lot of descriptive detail about Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq. Some sections are hard to get through, especially as I sometimes waited for a juicy plot twist. A movie without a focused story wouldn’t have been good as a movie. So in this case, the movie is more of an interpretation of the memoir, with juicy plot twists. The book’s juicy plot twist was the overall journey and how it changed Barker’s life.

Get Whiskey Tango Foxtrot in paperback for $11.96. 

Or get it on your Kindle for $11.99.

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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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Amy Poehler to Pen Memoir

Celebrities seem to constantly be publishing memoirs these days, don’t they? But few of them have us as excited as this one: a memoir by SNL and Parks and Recreation star and comedienne Amy Poehler.

According to Entertainment Weekly, Poehler has a deal with It Books to release her first book sometime in 2014. It Books is an imprint of HarperCollins. Not much is known about what the book will include, but I’m sure if it’s anything like Tina Fey’s Bossypants, it will sell like crazy.

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Review: Bossypants (Audiobook)

Recap: Smart, charming, and downright hilarious, Tina Fey’s Bossypants not only gives us a behind-the-scenes look at Fey’s life and background. It also offers career and life lessons, with funny anecdotes along the way. In Fey’s bestselling memoir, the 30 Rock and former SNL writer shares with us stories from her childhood, how she made it in the business, and how that Sarah Palin impression came to be. But mixed in with the overall story of her life are small, fun side stories — like those about her gay theater friends from childhood and her co-workers at the YMCA in Evanston, IL.

In this case, I listened to Bossypantsinstead of reading it. After all, Tina Fey reads the book herself. Also included in the audiobook is an audio version of the first Sarah Palin sketch Fey performed alongside Amy Poehler on SNL. There’s also a bonus disc, which features pictures from Fey’s past and a video of the SNL Sarah Palin skit. For me, that’s more than enough of a reason to choose the audiobook over the paperback.

Analysis: If there’s anything to get out of this book, it’s that yes, Tina Fey is as awesome, funny, smart, and charming as you think she is. If you’ve ever driven a long way by yourself, there’s perhaps no better companion for the road than the Bossypants audiobook.

Fey does not hold back, sharing with us some letters she either has or wishes she had sent to critics. She details her experience in meeting Sylvester Stallone. She even explains why former SNL star Cheri Oteri would have been better in one particular skit than Chris Kattan (who ultimately performed the skit). Her honesty can, at times, be astounding. But when reading a memoir, isn’t that exactly what you want?

The best parts of her story are easily about her days at SNL and 30 Rock. After all, that’s what she’s known for, and getting a behind-the-scenes look at the two shows is interesting — and let’s be honest — exactly the reason you picked up the book in the first place. She explains how she wasn’t even working at SNL when she did the Sarah Palin impressions, how she rarely impersonated people because she never looked like anyone, and how Alec Baldwin had been her choice for 30 Rock from the start and NBC probably wouldn’t have greenlit the show had he not signed on.

It’s not only Fey’s wit and candor that impress; she also subtlely includes career tips and life lessons. When talking about her days in improv, she explains tricks like “agree and say yes” or “yes, and…” or “think of solutions, not questions.” It becomes clear throughout this chapter that Fey is not only telling us how improv works; she’s telling us how life works.

MVP: Do you really have to ask? Sarah Palin.

Get the Bossypants audiobook now for $19.79.

Get it on your Kindle for just $12.99.

Or in paperback for $10.87.

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Tina Fey, Betty White Get Grammy Nods for Audiobooks

They’re funny, they’re cute, and they both have bestselling books. So there’s no reason Tina Fey and Betty White shouldn’t be nominated for awards for the memoirs they released this year. But for these two lucky ladies, it’s not their written words that are being admired; it’s also their spoken words.

Tina Fey and Betty White both received Grammy nominations in the “Spoken Word” category for their audiobooks: Bossypants by Tina Fey and If You Ask Me (And Of Course You Won’t) by Betty White.

Though this year’s other nominations in the category include audio performances, it seems that in recent years, audiobooks have taken the lead.

According to this article by the L.A. Times, former President Bill Clinton won the 2005 Spoken Word Grammy with his book My Life. In 2006, it went to then Senator Barack Obama’s Dreams from My Father. Jimmy Carter’s audiobook won in 2007. Obama’s The Audacity of Hope won in 2008. The 2009 Spoken Word Grammy went to Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, 2010’s award went to Michael J. Fox for his audiobook, and 2011 went to Jon Stewart for his.

It seems that the Grammy panel really enjoys listening to politicians, comedians, and celebrities while driving their cars. And really, who can blame them? So if you had to choose, who would it be? Betty White or Tina Fey?

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