Anyone who reads Rachel Pine’s roman a clef “The Twins of TriBeCa” hoping for a juicy behind-the-scenes peek at Bob and Harvey Weinstein’s Miramax Films will be sorely disappointed. Written by a former low-level PR staffer, tome won’t even satisfy the lesser demands of the “Sex and the City” crowd or beach readers.
Billed as “The Devil Wears Prada” for the indie film world, Pine’s book never musters as much dish or heat as Lauren Weisberger’s satire of Vogue. (Even Pine’s title is comparatively toothless, providing the first clue as to why Miramax Books had no qualms about scooping up rights.)
Pine’s mild sendup follows the exploits of Karen Jacobs, a green junior flack at Glorious Films, the TriBeCa minimajor ruled by Phil and Tony Waxman that pumps out (wink-wink) hits including “Perp Friction” and “The Foreign Pilot.”
Some of the thinly veiled characters (Quentin Tarantino, Harvey Keitel and Robert De Niro all pass through in various guises) are spot-on, but other spoofs seem tired or land strangely off the mark. (Harvey is the name of the company’s resident hound, and a hit network show that sounds a lot like NBC’s “Friends” is implausibly called “Fuckbuddies.”)
Much like “Sex and the City” — which cast Rudy Giuliani’s New York as a sanitized, mostly minority-free and hermetically sealed playground for fashionistas and the yuppie dudes who love them — Pine’s Gotham is a fairytale place where a roommate is a funky and free-spirited failing actress who promptly falls back on Johns Hopkins medical school when her dreams don’t work out.
Rather than serving as an inside look at two of the biz’s most famous powerbrokers, Pine uses the industry as a backdrop the way a Julia Stiles or Mandy Moore fish-out-of-water comedy might, and Karen’s interactions are mostly with the finicky flacks above her, not the more interesting Waxmans themselves.
In real life, the industry savored the juicy scuttlebutt emanating from Miramax; in “Twins,” however, Karen’s experience in the film wars has all the dynamics of a fresh-scrubbed Doris Day plot.
When Karen, a bored CNN staffer, meets future co-worker Clark Garland, she becomes ensnared when Clark exclaims, “I’m in the publicity department, which is the craziest part of the whole crazy place. But I absolutely love my job.” Gee whiz.
In an industry that offers potential for hilarious low blows, Pine’s dialogue is hampered by aw-shucks sheen. When describing the spoils of the big-time, she eschews illicit exploits in favor of InStyle gift bags and expense-accounted $450 bottles of Bollinger.
Soon Karen is learning the ropes as a flustered, put-upon assistant while falling for a charming but possibly conniving tabloid reporter. Rather than delving into the inner workings of Glorious or the media, “Twins” spends pages covering the rules of phone answering, lunch fetching, limo riding and red-carpet kowtowing as told from the mundane perspective of a neophyte. One passage exhaustively describes what a clip packet is and how it’s distributed in the Glorious offices.
“The part I can’t figure out,” exclaims Karen about her Glorious tormentors, “is that, even though they can be unbelievably bitchy, they’re smart and they’re great at what they do, and they have really exciting jobs. I’d admire them if they’d just let me.”
The breezy tome could serve as a primer for scads of uninitiated young women who dream of what it might be like to pack up after graduation and head to New York to admire their bitchy bosses.
Karen comes away from Oscar night realizing “the most difficult things to deal with had been the endless demands of celebrities and their ‘handlers’ ” and that “no one could imagine doing anything for themselves.” Golly.
The day after the Oscars, our heroine awakens with — horrors! — a “plethora of zits and huge dark circles” and can’t remove the doublestick tape that glued her boobs into her gown. The obligatory chick-lit remedy is, of course, “singing along to Donna Summer” in a rented Ford Taurus seeking “carbs, salt, sugar, chocolate and several doses of caffeine.”
The remedy for reading “Twins,” of course, is to order up another margarita from the cabana boy and concentrate as much on your base tan as on the words flying by on the page.