PUBLIC SPECTACLES by Stephen M. Silverman

PUBLIC SPECTACLES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Those who know Silverman only as the writer of fairly ordinary show-biz features for the New York Post will be pleasantly surprised to find that this book isn't just a collection of newspaper-bland profiles. No, it seems that while Silverman has been attending celebrity parties, doing interviews, and writing them up plain for the Post, he's also been taking more sophisticated notes--acerbic, skeptical, personal. So here--with some Post fragments and three pieces from American Film magazine included--is ""the reporter"" (as Silverman refers to himself throughout) with the stars, in mostly unvarnished and frequently amusing vignettes. On location with Hair, he is harangued by a proud/defensive producer (""Look at that--that's dancing. None of that camp hand-waving""). In a series of interviews re Broadway revivals, he is lectured by Yul Brynner, awed by Agnes de Mille, revolted by Carol Channing (""The reporter was having trouble transcribing her and not throwing up""). Bob Fosse, at first too tortured to speak, starts Telling All over breakfast (""I loved my mother. I think there would have been nothing greater than to have had an affair with her""); Liza Minelli, though slow to warm up, is ""pretty pleasant to be around""; Woody Allen is kindly. But mostly ""the reporter"" seems quietly appalled by the people he talks to--Harold Robbins on cocaine use, John Travolta on his own contribution to the world; with folks like these Silverman is a deft manipulator of the devastating deadpan non-sequitur. And though much here is ordinary--a Meryl Streep profile, backstage at Annie--there's also a nice, absurdist streak running through: one particular vulgar and abrasive (but lovable) agent pops up at every party and in almost every piece, and Silverman's friends and family have down-to-earth cameos. Profound it ain't: Silverman's no Kenneth Tynan. But, for savvy celebrity-watchers, this slightly bitchy, essentially good-natured approach is far better than the hype-heavy toadying of Rex Reed et al.

Pub Date: April 28th, 1981
Publisher: Dutton