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John Wayne Biography Gets Seal of Approval from Peter Bogdanovich

JohnWayneBioTopping the bestseller lists is nice; racking up hardcover sales in today’s digital age is always good. But chances are little will give author Scott Eyman more satisfaction than the following passage from Peter Bogdanovich‘s weekend review in the New York Times of April 1 release John Wayne: The Life and Legend:

The portrait Eyman paints very much resembles the Wayne I knew for nearly 15 years: extremely likable, guileless, exuberant, even strangely innocent.

Because ultimately, that’s all a writer is aiming for with a biography. To accurately and effortlessly capture the true nature of their subject.

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Twenty-Seven Years Later, L. Ron Hubbard Biography Finally Gets a U.S. Release

BareFacedMessiahIt’s great to see the byline of Tony Ortega in the New York Post. The founder of The Underground Bunker and executive editor of The Raw Story lays out the rich details framing the very belated arrival in the U.S. of Bare-Faced Messiah, a 1987 biography by British journalist Russell Miller of Church of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.

The Church successfully derailed U.S. publication with two years of litigation. However, thanks to independent publisher Silvertail Books, Bare-Faced Messiah was finally released stateside on March 18.

A portion of the book covers the same territory as Paul Thomas Anderson‘s acclaimed drama The Master. Amazingly, Miller says he was never consulted for the project:

I spoke to Miller recently and asked him if Anderson had ever reached out to him, since it seemed obvious that his book had been mined for that material. “I didn’t know about this until the bloody film was out. Had I known this was in the pipeline, I would have got my agent to ask to see the script.”

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‘Stripper King’ Still Rues the Day He Said No to Al Pacino

TheDevilsGloveCoverThe Devil’s Glove, the long-gestating debut novel of ex-New York City male stripper Louis Anthony Agnello Jr. (a.k.a. Cousin Vinny), came out last fall. But the promotional tour continues, this weekend in Savannah with a March 29 signing event.

If you have forgotten or never read about Agnello’s incredible life story, do yourself a favor and take the time to digest the details of Savannah Morning News entertainment writer Linda Sickler‘s profile piece. The article encompasses 9/11, Subway sandwich shops, acting aspirations, a 2001 media firestorm in Chappaqua, NY and a “hoo ha” of a career regret:

Al Pacino’s acting coach offered me a job to drive Al and him around town and I foolishly turned it down,” Agnello says. “I thought I was above all that because I was the top private male stripper in New York City at the time and was stripping for the Rockefeller’s and soap actresses on their birthdays.”

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Liz Smith Hosts Robert Wagner

Book Review You Must Remember ThisTuesday night at the 92nd Street YMCA, gossip columnist Liz Smith sat down with now 84-year-old actor Robert Wagner for a discussion, reading and signing of his latest book You Must Remember This. Today, she writes briefly about what she took away:

I remarked on R.J.’s way with women (he made love to most of his leading ladies) and married the adorable Natalie Wood — twice! I was careful, however, because in the audience was Wagner’s wife of more than 20 years, Jill St. John. How has Wagner survived, personally and professionally? Well, he is a real gentleman that’s how – intelligent, wise, charming, open and with open arms.

The Y event took place a few hours after Wagner’s appearance on Live with Kelly and Michael. That earlier conversation started off with some mutual gushing between Wagner and his former Hope & Faith co-star Ripa.

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Gene Hackman Details The Spousal Connection

PursuitCoverAt age 84, Gene Hackman is happily writing away in Santa Fe. The actor-turned-painter-turned-novelist doesn’t do very many interviews, but Yahoo Entertainment features editor Richard Rushfield was lucky enough to land a recent phoner, in support of Hackman’s latest fall 2013 novel Pursuit.

Hackman explained that it takes him upwards of a year to write each book and that this process encompasses two or three professional edits. The San Bernadino, CA native also touched on the critical collaborative role played by his wife Betsy Arakawa:

“I have a little office, you might call it. It’s just a writing desk and a pretty comfortable chair. I write longhand and I go back and I go over it I don’t know how many times and I hand it to the professor and she types it up. Then we go over it a number of times and get a little bit of a critique from her and like that.”

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Tonight’s Matt Zoller Seitz Book Signing Has an Extra Twist

TheWesAndersonCollection_CoverThe lure of a modest prize may not be enough to cause a costumed stampede. However, even if just a few denizens of West Hollywood and beyond take up Book Soup on the dress-up challenge, tonight’s event starting at 7 p.m. PT could prove interesting for visiting author and New York magazine TV critic Matt Zoller Seitz:

Come dressed as your favorite character from a Wes Anderson film for your chance to win a $50.00 Book Soup gift card! Runner-up prizes will be awarded too. This contest is open to individuals.

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Reviewer Applauds Marvel Comics Muslim Superhero

MsMarvelHere’s an intriguing media juxtaposition. The Wesleyan Argus, powered by undergrads at Connecticut’s Wesleyan University, is “the country’s oldest twice-weekly printed college newspaper.” It’s been around since 1868.

The paper was named after a hundred-eyed giant from Greek mythology and this week, via contributing writer Billy Donnelly, it casts an approving glance in the direction of a pop culture artifact that would have been unthinkable for most of the newspaper’s span: a teenage Muslim comic book superhero. The character of Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel, first announced at last fall’s edition of New York Comic Con, gets a big thumbs up from Donnelly:

A seasoned comic book writer known for her work on the Vertigo Comics series Air and her novel Alif the Unseen, [G. Willow] Wilson is herself Muslim, and clearly knows how to construct complex characters. Though initial descriptions of Kamala’s life in interviews made me concerned that the characters would be strictly adhering to flat Muslim stereotypes, these concerns were mitigated after the first three pages.

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Misleading Headline Helped Cement Babe Ruth ‘Called Shot’

There’s good news and bad news when it comes to filtering Babe Ruth‘s infamous “called shot” second home run in Game 3 of the 1932 World Series through the prism of 21st century digital journalism.

BabeRuthBookCoverPer an interview with author Ed Sherman in the New York Post, the good news is that if this had all happened today, the conversation Ruth had at the beginning of the following season with WMAQ Chicago broadcaster Hal Totten – during which he explained that he was noting one more strike left, not where he was going to hit the ball – would have quickly gone viral and put an end to some foul fall-classic spin.

The bad news is that like today, “click bait” headlines were something editors relied on to try and get the attention of readers:

The phrase “called shot” was supposedly invented by New York World-Telegram reporter Joe Williams, who wrote, in that day’s nighttime edition, “…On the occasion of his second round-tripper [Ruth] even went so far as to call his shot.” His editor took the phrase a step further, headlining the piece, “Ruth Calls Shot As He Puts Homer No. 2 In Side Pocket.”

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Oxford Prof Goes Way Back to Frame Review of Chelsea Hotel eBook

ChelseaHotelBookCoverBeneath a recent Guardian-Observer byline, Peter Conrad crafted one of the best book-review ledes we’ve read in a long time. Partly because his POV is fed by decades of fermented life experience rather than a few years of home-office blogging:

In the seething, druggy summer of 1969, a room in the Chelsea Hotel gave me my first view of New York. The establishment – a Queen Anne folly with a rooftop pyramid on West 23rd Street, opened in 1884 – was not quite the dream palace of Sherill Tippins‘ title: it struck me more as a trauma ward.

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Five Floors; Two Novelists; One Lunch

StillLifewithBreadCrumbsCoverWhen preparing a list of interview questions, most journalists tend to include a few tangential, broader queries. These are usually reserved for the end of the conversation, if-when there’s time, and can produce – in our experience at least – worthwhile results about half the time.

Joe Meyers asks three such questions at the end of his delightful Connecticut Post Q&A with Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter-turned-author Anna Quindlen. In all three cases, he was lucky enough to hit the bullseye.

Quindlen, whose latest novel Still Life with Bread Crumbs arrives in stores Tuesday January 28, absolutely kills it with her reply to, ‘Do you ever miss journalism?’ She shares a solid personal-read recommend in reply to another question and offers this fun response to Meyers’ final query, ‘What’s next for you?’:

“I’m going to go downstairs and make lunch for my son Quin. He’s writing a novel on the first floor, and I’m writing one on the fifth floor, and we meet on the second floor for lunch. I’m the luckiest woman, and novelist, on earth.”

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