Entertainment reporter Gross, a confessed autograph hound (now reformed) analyzes the meaning of fandom and weighs the psychological costs and rewards of the hunt for idols of movies and television.
From cool Sundance to the meanest Green Room, from Jacksonian Neverland to Partonesque Dollywood, our earnest reporter pursues the famous and the fans. It’s all about special people like Julia, Sean, Uma, Kelsey, Halle and Tom (whether Cruise, Hanks or Smothers). At autograph bazaars, it’s also about Adriana Castelotti (a.k.a. Snow White) and Jerry Maren (an original munchkin), whose mere proximity sends aficionados into raptures. The proficient Gross reveals his once special attachment to the uncloseted world of Will and Grace. He hangs for a while with Mickey Rourke and for a spell with Sean Astin, and if these personalities leave a reader with little more than outright lassitude, if access to such putative household names seems less than a reason for living, perhaps numismatics or bibliophilism might be better. Surely, not everyone will share Gross’s infatuation with the land of publicists and personal assistants, of B- and C-list celebs, of fanzines and the regular hype, the frequent tripe of TV’s daily entertainment news shows. He gives us a dissection of a subculture that spawned an industry founded on an obsession in which celebrity is all. “I’m not an atheist,” one functionary quipped to the author, “I believe in Judy Garland.” In a place where the starstruck may be struck dumb, Gross writes frankly and easily about the commerce among the stars (the commodities) and the fans (the consumers). His retelling of the gushing and the fawning, the departure from the real world is, at best, honest. At worst, though, it’s too frequently fey and finally somehow dispiriting.
A discomfiting note on pop culture—on fandom, by a fan, and chiefly for fans.