Wilk (The Moving Picture Boys; Get Out and Get Under) once again takes a loving but only half-telling poke at that...

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A TOUGH ACT TO FOLLOW

Wilk (The Moving Picture Boys; Get Out and Get Under) once again takes a loving but only half-telling poke at that most-easily satirized community, Tinseltown, USA. Eileen Tighe, ambitious Hollywood executive of the 1980s, watches a kinescope of a vintage 1950s live-comedy series at her decorator's house and becomes infatuated with the show's star, Miss Jody Cassel. Jody is pure shtick, using enough sight gags, outrageous costumes and cornball Borsht-Belt puns to make Milton Berle blush. Still, there is pathos behind the brazenness, personality behind the trademark ""Wowoweeweewoh!,"" and real talent hiding beneath the send-ups of mushy torch songs to convince Eileen that there is great movie potential in Jody Cassel's life story. Unfortunately, though, Jody has not been seen or heard from since 1964. Thus, through a series of interviews by Eileen and some first-person reminiscences by erstwhile friends, associates, lovers and genuine Cassel-haters, we get a Citizen Kane treatment of Jody's meteoric rise and descent during the ""golden years"" of television. Everyone seems to have gone on to great success following their association with Jody. Buddy Grimes, her first partner, is now Walter Grimes, affluent television advisor to a huge conglomerate. First director Dick Hatch is now a legendary TV drama director. Agent Buck Dawes appears to be running an agency the size of William Morris. Ex-roomie Claire is a powerful cosmetics tycoon. Finally, Eileen tracks Jody down in a mysterious spa in Mexico, where she has been living with her guru, Dr. Ben Katzen of Brooklyn, and his band of assorted oddballs. Jody seems happy at last, free from the love-starved ego that drove her to the comic excesses which, in turn, drove audiences wild and associates in the business crazy. Far removed from the tensions of Hollywood, the ""new Jody"" has found the secret to joy and tranquility. Still, the idea of a movie about her life seems to be seductively beckoning. . . Wilk obviously knows his Hollywood prototypes well, but even Jody doesn't have enough about her to rate much concern, much less a movie. There is some attempt at humor, but the written slapstick just doesn't generate belly-laughs. Sandwiched between the pithy sequences that begin and end the book is, sad to say, just so much soap-opera mush.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 1985

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1985