The creator and host of Inside the Actors Studio summarizes his multifaceted career (writer, actor, dancer, academic dean—and more) and rehearses his favorite moments from his award-winning TV show.
Lipton begins with some background on the Actors Studio (born in 1947) and the birth of his show in 1994, then outlines his autobiography. When the author was six, his poet father “disappeared one day, just vanished, was gone, without a prior hint or word of warning.” His mother, a “proud and independent spirit,” was forced to move with her young son back into her parents’ house to stay afloat financially. After a brief discussion of his father’s poetry and his own nascent literary aspirations, Lipton reviews his early archetypal struggles in the Big Apple and his gradual emergence as a writer and producer during the infancy of television. (And, he notes, he was into pilates way before the rest of us.) If Lipton is a bit fond of self-praise (Leonard Bernstein loved Lipton’s book, An Exaltation of Larks; Lipton finessed James Dickey into revising a presentation), he does indeed have much to be proud of. In the longest (and at times, most tedious) portion of this otherwise fascinating memoir, Lipton offers a sort of textual equivalent of a TV highlight reel: Russell Crowe proved to be “an amiable guest, a knowledgeable teacher and a conscious craftsman”; Christopher Reeve remained articulate after his accident; Jennifer Lopez offered “an infusion of spine and guts”; Angelina Jolie possesses “guileless candor.” And so on. In the sad conclusion, Lipton tells how and why the Actors Studio program recently left the New School and moved to Pace University. And what is Lipton’s response to Will Ferrell’s famous impersonation of him on Saturday Night Live (which is alluded to throughout the book)? “Upset me! No one waited more eagerly for the next installment.”
A worthy—perhaps even enviable—life related with passion, certitude and considerable artistry.