The publishing industry perhaps deserves its present dismal fate, considering some of the astonishingly boneheaded celebrity books that they have produced for whatever asinine-Assoline reasons. Were those literary lunches particularly boozy? What would posess a publishing company to offer Burt Reynolds a tell-all knowing full well that the actor's Id-driven fans are generally not a literate lot?
It simply boggles the imagination.
Whatever the case, the industry, drunk on its own intellectual prestige, grossly overestimated how many readers would actually be interested in Candy Spelling's stray thoughts. Cindy Adams today notes a really stupid decision by Viking Press to publish some scribblings by the self-indulgent Barbara Streisand:
"Now, Streisand's coming book 'Passion for Design' about how she did her house. The industry says it'll sell four copies because who really cares. So why'd Viking do it? To keep her warm for that someday autobio."
Great editorial decision. This got us to thinking: What are some of the stupidest celebrity books ever published? There are, to be sure, legion. Here is The Corsair's list of the Top Ten worst celebrity vanity book projects:
10 - 1994's "Songs My Mother Taught Me," By Marlon Brando (Random House). Entertainment Weekly's Mark Harris summed up the whole sordid mess, saying in their review, "'Songs' is truly a terrible book, a rambling belch that was really written, admits the actor on page 143, 'for money because Harry Evans of Random House offered it to me." Sir Harry allegedly paid $5 million to enable that literary felony (Averted Gaze).
(Dis)Honorable Mention: Graydon Carter's "Vanity Fair Hollywood." How could anyone think that this book would make any monies? We cynically suspect purpose of this book was so that the publisher could get an expensive invite to the Vanity Fair Oscar party? What better way to funnel a bribe than through a book deal?
9 - Any Sports Biography. The formula is simple: Impoverished childhood, practice, fame, girls, drugs, reckoning, and, finally, redemption (in Ur-man Jose Canseco's turgid case, insert steroids). That's all well and good, but why are we still interested? At what point does this predictable behavior by overpaid hunks of beef exhaust the patience of readers?
This blogger gets that fact that athletes are interesting slabs of boef on the court, on the playing field, on the mound and even at the after-party chasing after pussy. They oscillate wildly, jump high, express great stamina and are quite talented at maneuvering balls into holes (Exaggerated cough suggesting feigned detachment). But they are not, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, interesting in the literary fundament or in the arena of the mind. Oftentimes sports stars have not even the respect enough for the reader to write the books themselves. Jocks have "ghost writers" who cobble together something coherent out of what can only be properly construed as rambling sub-literate interviews.
No doubt these so-called ghost writers earn their supper, if only to debase their chosen medium (Averted Gaze).
8 - "How To Make Love Like A Porn Star" by Jenna Jameson (And, shamefully, Neill Strauss). There is a special place in Hell reserved for Judith Regan for, among other literary forms of sacrilege, making porn star Jenna Jameson a bona fide "New York Times bestselling author." There are probably more softcore pictures in this book than actual words, so we are not quite sure if this even classifies as a book. And the words are the usual one might expect from a "porn star": longing over estranged father, early sexual abuse, a side-caerre in "dancing," sex with Tommy Lee (He wanted to cuddle afterwards, She didn't), and, finally, getting turned down by Damon Wayans. Porny's clearly gunning after Count Tolstoi.
(Dis)honorable Mention: Ron Jeremy's "The Hardest Working Man in Showbiz." Eew.
7 - "Stories From CandyLand" by Candy Spelling. We're not even going to link to this venture into vanity. It would be like promoting a criminal act. Perhaps when one inherits the Aaron Spelling motherlode, one has the ability -- super Los Angeles power? -- to make an actual book sold in brick-and-mortar stores out of what ought to be a PR initiative waged by highly-paid flacks. Instead, we get "Stories from Candyland," a sickly-sweet, diabetes-inducing, response to her daughter's infinitely more honest biography. From Entertainment Weekly's Kate Ward:
"Candyland is hardly more than an ode to the famous mum's own sophistication and beauty. In other words, it's quite boring. In fact, one chapter is even named, 'My Mother's Gloves Were Off-White.' I'm not joking."
6 - "My Life" By Burt Reynolds. Burt Reynolds -- let us say this at the outset -- is a pretty fucking disgusting dude. He's got that whole "tough guy" shit going on that makes us want to smack his face, launching that bad toupee heavenwards, giving him an impromptu education about the strong-versus-the-weak.
The book is bad. It consists of two overarching themes. One: Burt Reynolds is sad that when he was the number one box office star he squandered his opportunity to fight for Civil Rights (yeah, righ, Burt and Principled). Two: Oily footballer Burt Reynolds slept with the elegant Candice Bergen, in what was probably just a bad-1970s-decision on her part.
Why did he need a book to make these 2 points? Couldn't he have just said so on David Letterman and spared the lives of innocent trees? Fucking scumbag.
5 - "Always A Reckoning," by Jimmy Carter. What was Random House thinking? Perhaps there is a reason why former Presidents generally don't dabble in poetry?
4 - "Exposing Myself" By Geraldo Rivera. What can one say about a book called "Exposing Myself"? How about: "Call the cops"! In this work of almost baroque bragadoccio, Geraldo Rivera destroys any chances that he will ever be a "Wise Man," an anchor for a major television network. In lurid detail he lingers over some of his 1970s affairs, incuding Liza Minelli and Bett Middler. "Oh, he was a slimeball," Middler has since said of Jerry Rivers. "If I had known then that he was going to do this twenty years later, I never would have given him the time of day." We should have followed her advice and not given this hastily-crafted turd the time of day.
3 - "Living History," by Hillary Rodham Clinton. One could learn a far greater amount about the inner-workings of Hillary Clinton's complicated political mind from Bill Clinton's rambling, wonderful memoir than from Hillary Clinton's overly-scrubbed, flavorless pudding of a tome. The former First Lady's $8 million advance was, at that time, the second highest in history (after the Pope, who, with hundreds of millions of Catholics was a sure thing). And for that advance, Simon & Schuster got a political life wholly without any edge; Simon & Schuster got, essentially, a Presidential biography. All this blogger came away from from reading the book is that when courting, Hillary thought Bill Clinton had wonderful hands and that we lost a week of our life searching for something interesting in these pages.
The search was in vain.
2 - "Confessions of a Late Night Talk Show Host." By Gary Shandling. Almost everything about Gary Shandling is difficult. Comedians are, by their very nature, damaged creatures, cracked dolls. The damage is in reciprocal relation to their talent. By that measuring stick, Gary Shandling is what can only be properly construed as a broken, shattered man.
And so it was no surprise that it took 3 years of wrangling for Shandling to make good on this book commitment. This companion to "The Larry Sanders Show" was delivered a full six-months after "The Larry Sanders Show" ended its run. As you can imagine, the jokes -- as well as the entire premise -- was stale. From Entertainment Weekly's Bruce Fetts:
"Early in his blandly titled mock autobiography, "Confessions of a Late Night Talk Show Host," Garry Shandling's alter egomaniac, Larry Sanders, goes to see his shrink, who complains that he's never been asked to pen his memoirs. "Why would anyone ask him to write a book?" Sanders wonders. "His therapy might pass for comedy, but it was full of dated material that you could hear at any Friars Club roast." The sad truth is, the same could be said of 'Confessions.'"
1 - "Clown Paintings," by Diane Keaton. In the history of stupid celebrity books, a picture book about clown paintings with commentary by Diane Keaton as to why she finds them interesting is, not inconceivably, the locus point -- and a decadent one at that -- at which the American Empire went into a steep and irreversible decline.