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Lit 101

AP Reporter Rewinds Netflix-Amazon Tale

It’s refreshing to see a journalist go beyond the boundaries of a typical book review.

Reporting about Netflixed: The Epic Battle for America’s Eyeballs, due in stores Thursday, AP technology writer Michael Liedtke wasn’t too sure about at least one of the tidbits passed on by author Gina Keating. So he decided to check it out:

According to the book, [Netflix co-founders] Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph flew to Seattle sometime in 1998 to meet with Amazon.com Inc. CEO Jeff Bezos. The topic of discussion: a possible partnership. At one point, Hastings proposed that Amazon buy Netflix, only to be disappointed when Bezos offered a mere $12 million.

Netflix spokesman Jonathan Friedland told The Associated Press that the Amazon anecdote was “totally untrue.” Amazon declined comment.

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Arnold Covering All the PR Bases; Goes from 60 Minutes to Google Hangout

A media blitz these days touches many more bases than the major networks and leading daily newspapers. Witness our former Governor, who wrapped up his first week of Total Recall autobiography chest-thumping with a 2:30 p.m PT Google hangout chat hosted by What’s Trending maven Shira Lazar.

The global audience made possible by this technology was plainly obvious. Commenters awaiting the event’s start were chiming in from Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Macedonia and points beyond.

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Two More Companies Jump on Fifty Shades of Grey Bandwagon

This coming Friday, seekingarrangement.com – a website that bills itself as the world’s leading connector of sugar daddies and sugar babies – will be hosting a sold-out party in downtown Los Angeles. With a twist:

The event will feature the “Fifty Shades” Masquerade theme, bringing together beautiful and glamorous women who want to find themselves a real “Christian Grey,” and the highest caliber of wealthy, successful men who are seeking their own “Anastasia Steele.” Masks will be required of all guests before 11 p.m.

Meanwhile, later this fall (November 20), Dallas-based publisher Ben Bella Books will release Fifty Writers on Fifty Shades of Grey,  a compilation from its pop culture imprint Smart Pop. Essayists include Marci Hirsch, a production executive at Vivid.

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Author of Leonard Cohen Bio Recovering from Exhaustive Research Process

The biography I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen, arriving in stores tomorrow, led music journalist Sylvie Simmons far beyond the clicking of a Google search button. She retraced the various stages of the singer’s life by physically transporting herself to each and every major sign post.

That meant Montreal in the dead of winter, some time spent at New York’s Chelsea Hotel and a visit to a more unusual location outside LA. She tells San Francisco Chronicle music critic Aidin Vaziri that it was the only way to do justice to the life rhythms of her 77-year-old subject:

Simmons nearly reached a breaking point when she checked into a monastery at Mount Baldy, where Cohen spent five years studying Zen Buddhism in the mid ’90s. She barely made it through a week.

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SATURDAY: Desert America Signing at Skylight Books

Emmy-award winning journalist, author, and native Angeleno Rubén Martínez has authored a new book, Desert America: Boom and Bust in the New Old West, an ” illuminating portrait of the twenty-first-century West.” From the Los Angeles Times review:

“Desert America” is a memoir that also manages to be an excellent work of reportage…

The new old West, Martínez tells us, is where John Wayne filmed many an iconic movie and where immigrants die crossing the desert. It’s home to cookie-cutter subdivisions and water wars. Americans think of its open spaces as a blank page where any loser or dreamer can rewrite his or her life story.

Martinez will be discussing and signing Desert America at Skylight Books on Saturday, September 15 at 5:00 p.m.

Author Assembles Rollicking Roundtable of Entertainment Journalists

The format of Francine Brokaw’s breezy 182-page book Beyond the Red Carpet: The World of Entertainment Journalists, available next Tuesday, is exceedingly straightforward. Under various themed chapter headings, the veteran Family Magazine Group reporter and current member of the TCA asks a group of colleagues to recall Strange Interviews (Chapter 4), Twilight Zone Moments (Chapter 5) and Off the Record (Chapter 10) detours.

Her panel of junket-savvy experts includes everyone from David Sheehan (KCBS) and George Pennacchio (KABC) to Hahn Nguyen (tvguide.com) and Mike Reynolds (various). One journalist who stands out by virtue of being unafraid to name celebrity names is the New York Post’s Sean Daly. Here for example is the beginning of his entry for How Rude! (Chapter 9):

Harrison Ford is the rudest a-hole in show business. Followed possibly by Tommy Lee Jones. I have actually seen Ford call reporters out for asking what he thinks are “stupid questions”…

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Suri Cruise Tumblr Spawns Book, BUZZMEDIA Deal

The axiom of blogs being able to regenerate as real-world, hardcover books was long ago proven. So in that sense, the September 4 arrival of Suri’s Burn Book: Well-Dressed Commentary from Hollywood’s Little Sweetheart, a compilation of material from Allie Hagan’s hilarious Tinseltown rich kid Tumblr, is ho-hum.

However, when such book news is paired with the September 5 announcement of a joint venture between Hagan and BUZZMEDIA, it qualifies as a legitimate multimedia juggernaut. Can the online TV show spinoff be far behind? From this week’s press release:

Suri’s Burn Book reaches a sophisticated, socially-connected and powerful female audience of more than 620,000 unique visitors monthly, and offers unique contextual ad opportunities for brands that want to reach and engage millennials.

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Pseudonymous Author Retraces Her Double Life as an LA Schoolteacher, Dominatrix

“Darlene” grew up in an idyllic Pasadena neighborhood. As a young, aspiring actress, she photo doubled for 14-year-old Christian Bale and 12-year-old Corey Feldman. She also co-starred in the very poorly received 1987 revenge flick Monstrosity.

Darlene eventually wound up teaching Monday-to-Thursday evening ESL and teenage remedial classes at an LA public school. The real money however, up until 2007, came from her other vocation: dominatrix for-hire by the hour, Fridays through Sundays. It’s all entertainingly laid out in Playing Darlene: The True Double Life of a Public School Teacher and Professional Dominatrix, a 109-page book that will no doubt benefit from the current appetite for all things Fifty Shades of Grey-related. And in this case, all the more intriguing because it is gender-reversed and purportedly all true.

We were not expecting the LA media to have played a key role in Darlene’s whips-and-chain progress. But this was allegedly the case, when she was stationed at a residential-area place of business and the locals started protesting outside:

Mistress Victoria waltzed triumphantly into the lounge and announced to the ladies that the media were on their way. Reporters from the three major networks wanted to interview someone and she needed someone to volunteer to talk on camera…

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PEN Center USA Announces Literary Award Winners

Native Angeleno Ben Ehrenreich won the Journalism category for his Harper’s Magazine story “Drip, Jordan: Israel’s water war with Palestine.” We’re awfully proud of him, just as we are fellow FishbowlLA editor Matthew Fleischer, who was a finalist in the Journalism category.

Other Southern Californians to take home PEN awards include Suzanne Jill Levine of Santa Barbara for the Translation category, Hollywood talents Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig for the screenplay Bridesmaids, Alex Ganza, Howard Gordon, & Gideon Raff, who won the Teleplay category for the pilot episode of Homeland.

A full list of winners can be found after the jump.

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Advertising Whiz Recalls Casting LA’s ‘Craziest Actor’

In the new book Advertisers At Work, marketing professor Tracy Tuten interviews 20 leading industry execs and entrepreneurs. Leading off this dynamic compilation is Chris Raih, co-founder and managing director of Venice-based creative agency Zambezi.

Raih reveals that from a very young age growing up in Minnesota, he harbored dreams of writing for Sports Illustrated. But things took a turn for the ad world when the print journalism major interned at local agency Fallon. Today, Raih counts the Los Angeles Lakers as a client, has opened a field office in Shanghai and oversees with co-founder Brian Ford some three dozen employees just steps from the beach.

The irony is that Raih gets to work at Zambezi with various sports superstars. In the summer of 2010 for example, the agency put together a vitaminwater campaign with Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Petersen. As he explains in the interview, the icing on the cake was a certain voluble actor:

“The concept was freaking zany – basically that this athlete retained an attack-dog lawyer to try to sue Fantasy Football guys who had Adrian on their team… We cast for the craziest actor we could find and trust me, we found him! We got Gary Busey to play the lawyer…”

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