I’ll be hosting a panel next Wednesday, March 29, at the 92nd St Y/Makor, titled “A Manuscript and a Magic 8-Ball: Secrets to Success in Publishing Today.” The panelists are Jonathan Karp, publisher and editor-in-chief of Warner Twelve; Johnny Temple, rock star and publisher of Akashic Books; and Sarah Weinman of GalleyCat and Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind.
Topics will probably include everything from how authors can distinguish themselves, to publishers’ approaches to marketing (there’s a New York Times article published today about paperback originals), how reading habits are changing in the age of the Internet, the relevance of book reviews, and anything else that pops into my head.
All the President’s Spin has been short-listed for the Lulu Blooker Prize (yes, you read that right, it’s “blook"), a new award for the best book to come out of/be based on a blog. We’re up against an interesting array of books, including Belle de Jour: The Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl, a book on biofuels, one about cafes, another about recipes, and one about the Scott Peterson trial. The winner will be announced on April 3.
Apropos of seeing “Capote” tonight, I’m struck by how many Oscar nominations this year are for various celebrity-inspired movies and roles: Philip Seymour Hoffman as Truman Capote, Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash, and David Strathairn as Edward R. Murrow are all up for best actor; Reese Witherspoon is nominated for best actress as June Carter Cash; and Catherine Keener is up for best supporting actress as Harper Lee.
And then there’s plenty of nominations in the real-but-not-famous category: George Clooney is nominated for best supporting actor for playing CIA agent Richard Barnes in “Syriana,” along with Paul Giamatti in the same category for playing Joe Gould in “Cinderella Man,” and Judy Dench is nominated for best actress as Laura Henderson in “Mrs. Henderson Presents.” You might even count Charlize Theron for best actress and Frances McDormand for best supporting actress in “North Country” (which is a “based on").
Two of the best picture nominess—“Capote” and “Good Night and Good Luck” and—are, to greater or lesser degrees, celebrity-based, and “Munich” is another “based on.” (Last year had three similar films nominated: “The Aviator” about Howard Hughes, “Finding Neverland” about Peter Pan author J.M Barrie, “Ray” about Ray Charles.)
So pick your moral to this story:
• Reality TV (especially celebrity-based reality TV) has taken over Hollywood
• Critics like to watch celebrities playing celebrities
• Truth is stranger than fiction
• Truth(ish) does better box office than fiction
• Truth is more interesting than most of the sludge that makes it to the big screen (yes, I’m looking at you, “Batman Begins")
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