While the WGA strike takes scriptwriting off the market, books are out in force — particularly as the Christmas gift-giving season approaches. And none is more welcome to those in(and out of) the biz than "Dressed, A Century of Hollywood Costume Design" by Deborah Nadoolman Landis (Collins Design, $75).
If ever there was a "must" for a movie lover’s library, this is it. The collection of designers and their costumes — the stars, the directors — the stories about them — they are priceless. And who better to have loved showing and telling about them than the author — and wife of director John Landis. The star list and their costumes range from Charlie Chaplin and Marilyn Monroe, Gloria Swanson and Errol Flynn. They bring back fond memories for me when I spent many happy hours alongside the greats like Edith Head and Helen Rose as they unfurled their chef d’oeuvres to me before they went on the bodies-beautiful before the camera.
Landis’ own creating credits range from and include: "Raiders of the Lost Ark," "The Three Amigos," "Animal House," "The Blues Brothes" and "Coming To America" for which she received an Oscar nomination. She follows this monumental tome by curating a major exhibition of costume design in film at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum which will travel for two years internationally starting in 2012. I can hardly wait until it shows in the Landises hometown, L.A.
Meanwhile at Book Soup on the Sunset Strip, Wednesday night, Michael Viner was signing copies of his latest book, "Shattered Promises, Broken Dreams, the cost of coming to America" (Phoenix Books — his banner). Taylor Rose, Viner’s (and Deborah Raffin’s) seven year-old daughter to whom Viner dedicates the book, was on hand to also autograph the dedication page. It’s Viner’s collection of heartbreak stories of the "hundreds of women from the former USSR I interviewed and shared their lives" — in his four weeks’ travels in Russia and Eastern Europe. I met one of the Russian women with Viner — they were shopping late at night in Gelson’s in Century City. She is beautiful. The stories are heart-breaking.
Steve Martin pays tribute to Carl Reiner in his book, "Standing Up" (Scribner). Reiner directed Martin in "The Jerk," 1979, his first movie. Writes Martin: "Carl had an entrenched sense of glee, he used humor as a gentle way of speaking difficult truths and he could be effortlessly frank. He taught me more about how to be a social person than any other adult in my life." Steve remains a member of the Reiner "Gourmet Poker Club," which, over the years, has included: Barry Diller, Dan Melnick, David Chasman, and Chevy Chase.
While actors await the WGA strike end and a return to work — they can hone up by reading Allan Rich’s "A Leap From The Method — An Organic Approach to Acting." Rich, 80, with 65 years in the acting profession, admits "I’m still striving to land my next job" — but he’s never without work. Among his revelations — "the myths about acting." He’ll speak about some of them Dec.1, 2 p.m. when he appears at Barnes & Noble in The Grove at the Farmer’s Market. You can be sure Rich will have a few more things to also say about a few more things!
And talk about story-telling: log onto Sidney Sheldon’s official web site to see the amazing reader reaction to "The Dark SIde of Midnight" — Morrow & Co.s omnibus edition which features three of Sheldon’s past best-sellers, "The Other Side of MIdnight," "Rage of Angels, and "Bloodline