"WE'RE READY FOR YOU, MR. GRODIN: Behind the Scenes at Talk Shows, Movies, and Elsewhere" by Charles Grodin

"WE'RE READY FOR YOU, MR. GRODIN: Behind the Scenes at Talk Shows, Movies, and Elsewhere"

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Actor, director, producer Grodin (How I Get Through Life, 1992) makes an appearance as a purveyor of theatrical anecdotes. Noel Coward he's not. Written between takes during the production of his recent film Heart and Souls, this disjointed effort to depict Grodin's career as Mister Showbiz is not uniformly dull, to be sure, but the proud exhibitions of putative wit are wan indeed. After a Nixonesque assertion that, unlike the characters he has played, he is ""not a jerk,"" Grodin recounts all the clever things he's done and said. Obviously, he is no jerk, but with banalities on the order of ""sometimes life feels so short and strange,"" he's not the deepest thinker, either. This backstager sometimes reads like a parody of personal hype. ""Forgive me for this self-aggrandizement,"" he apologizes parenthetically, ""I'm trying to make a point about stupidity."" It's not all self-centered. For example, there are comments about others -- like those who didn't dig his oblique wit or couldn't handle his success. Names drop like hailstones. ""Danny Thomas was a friend of mine whom I knew through his daughter, my friend Marlo."" Otto Preminger and Diane Sawyer, Art Carney and Oliver Stone, Gilda, Johnny, and Dustin all serve as second bananas to our Chuck. Conversations are recalled, oddly, as scripted dialogue in this stream of self-consciousness. The text begins with spirit as Grodin denies close relationship with most of the ""100 Most Powerful People in Hollywood"" and gains strength again near the end with a diary of the making of Heart and Souls, which has since turned out to be a very modest box-office draw. But, on the whole, the occasional author and full-time light comedian upstages all, including himself. If not quite a bomb, Grodin's latest presentation isn't a hit, either. It's just a dud.

Pub Date: Oct. 3rd, 1994
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Scribners