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  • Jeff Somers 1:52 pm on 2017/03/29 Permalink
    Tags: , , celebrities, , , , , truth teller   

    In Nevertheless, Alec Baldwin Makes His Brand Brutal Honesty 

    On the third page of Alec Baldwin’s unvarnished new memoir, Nevertheless, he startles you with this: “I’m not actually writing this book to discuss my work, my opinions, or my life…I’m writing it because I was paid to write it.” That’s all the heads up you get that this isn’t your typical memoir. Yes, Baldwin does discuss his opinions, his work, and his life, but where memoirs often selectively reveal details designed to support a “branded” version of the author, Baldwin barrels through stories about his life with a raw intensity that really is “warts and all.” It’s a fascinating ride through a fascinating life and brain, and as you read you slowly begin to realize Baldwin isn’t hiding anything—nothing is off limits, even when it doesn’t make the revered actor look great.

    Childhood Miseries
    His statement about writing the book for money prefaces a lengthy section about his childhood growing up on Long Island, where his family’s continual lack of money caused immense stress in his home life. Baldwin’s descriptions of his childhood and teenage years are alternately heartbreaking and surprising. He describes his difficult early relationship with his mother, who struggled to accept the path her life took and an increasingly distant husband, and his complex relationship with his father, who was often shut off from his family emotionally. He talks about his early realization that he needed to earn money in order to do the things he wanted, and how that shaped—and harmed—his acting career. Most remarkably, he talks about going through his teenage years in a sort of haze, with almost zero memory of high school, of football practices, of anything.

    His Career
    Baldwin is compulsively self-deprecating about his skills as an actor. He frequently describes costars as brilliant and awe-inspiring, while considering his own work to be competent at best—and usually elevated by the amazing people around him. His acting career almost seems to have happened largely by accident; he was offered a role in a soap opera without even really trying, got an agent as a result, and within a few years is in California was being offered development deals by TV networks. Baldwin’s open about his insecurities—and about the bad decisions he made, largely for paychecks, that he now believes helped kill his chances to be a leading man. It’s rare for a hugely successful celebrity to admit they have so many regrets, and Baldwin’s honesty is thrilling.

    Inside Baseball
    Baldwin walks us through some of the more exciting moments in his professional career, too. He discusses being pushed out of the Jack Ryan movies after The Hunt for Red October, describing how he was outmaneuvered by a studio that wanted Harrison Ford’s box office pull (and Baldwin’s description of Ford is hilariously insulting). He also discusses the time he was sued by the studio while making the film The Edge with Anthony Hopkins, and his experience at Kim Basinger’s side when she was sued for breach of contract over Boxing Helena. And peppered between those big stories are a hundred smaller anecdotes—about working with specific people and the often dismaying day to day business of working in film, television, and theater. Through it all Baldwin is remarkably generous—most of his collaborators are described in glowing terms, and he falls in love with every other actor, actress, producer, or writer he meets. Baldwin name-checks plenty of below-the-line folks who are often forgotten in memoirs like this one, and doesn’t shy away from telling stories about producers who came on to him when he was a young actor, or giving us a brutally depressing blow-by-blow about the time he overdosed on cocaine and his struggles with sobriety ever since. He digs into his public mistakes, from the infamous voicemail he left his daughter, Ireland, to his often violent run-ins with photographers and tabloid reporters. In each, he offers explanations, but no excuses.

    The Big Picture
    Every life is a matrix of relationships, and Baldwin goes all in on both his marriage to Kim Basinger and where he thinks it went wrong, and touches on the bitter divorce battle that ensued and his positions on father’s rights and how he thinks the modern court system is broken—but only touches on them, because he has gone into much greater (and equally honest) detail on both in his book A Promise to Ourselves. He’s also surprisingly candid about his political stance and aspirations, referring several times to his desire early in life to go into politics, and admitting that he still contemplates running for office and has been approached in the past, most notably about running for mayor of New York City.

    Most remarkably, Baldwin uses one of his book’s last chapters to go into detail about his political beliefs and his experiences as an activist, a fundraiser, and an operative over the last few decades—a chapter that seems to be heading toward a major revelation as he builds the case that he has been plugged-in and politically active. Then he pulls back to ruefully discuss the most recent election and how he reacted to it. His concluding chapters discuss second chances, because Alec Baldwin is clearly a man who understands that he’s made many mistakes, and isn’t completely certain he deserves another shot.

    That sort of brutal honesty makes this one of the most remarkable memoirs you’ll read. Read it for the stories about working with Al Pacino, read it for the observations about the art of acting, or just read it for the hilarious joke that gives the book its title, or to find out what music will be played at Alec Baldwin’s funeral.

    Nevertheless hits shelves April 4, and is available for pre-order now.

    The post In Nevertheless, Alec Baldwin Makes His Brand Brutal Honesty appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Jeff Somers 4:00 pm on 2017/03/02 Permalink
    Tags: , celebrities, , , ,   

    5 Reasons We Can’t Wait to Read Alec Baldwin’s Memoir Nevertheless 

    Eventually, everyone famous writes a memoir, in part because famous people do tend to lead interesting lives, and in part because publishers know those memoirs will sell because readers want the inside scoop on being famous. The entertainment value of these memoirs varies widely, of course, from rote tellings to revealing journeys into the lives and minds of  flat-out hilarious, fascinating people.

    Alec Baldwin’s forthcoming memoir, Nevertheless, promises to be among the latter. In fact, it has been climbing up our “Can’t Wait to Read” lists for months now. With its April 4 release just around the corner, here’s why we’re counting down the days till we can get the book in our hands.

    The Zeitgeist
    Baldwin has been part of the entertainment landscape for decades now—he’s one of the most recognizable actors in the world, with of the most recognizable voices in the world, alongside an acting resume a mile long. From a humble childhood on Long Island he went on to soap operas, was at one time one of the hottest leading men in movies, and then became a surprise candidate for Funniest Man Alive. He resurfaced as one of pop culture’s most visible figures with his slaying impersonation of President Trump on Saturday Night Live, which just reminds us how funny the man is—a brand of funny we expect will be all over his memoir.

    The Stories
    The thing about Alec Baldwin? He has worked with everybody. His IMDB page looks like a Who’s Who of Hollywood, which means he has got a treasure trove of gossip and tales of adventure to share. Even the title of his memoir, Nevertheless, stems from a joke Michael Gambon (whom you might know as the second Dumbledore from the Harry Potter films, among many other roles) told Baldwin when they were working on the TV movie Path to War together. Considering Baldwin is one of the best talk-show guests of all time, owing in part to his endless font of intimate insider trivia, we fully expect to read some great tales out of school.

    The Many Facets of Baldwin
    Put bluntly, Alec Baldwin is fascinating. When he first became a star it was easy to dismiss him as a very pretty man with a great voice, but over time it has become clear what a layered performer he is. He initially intended to go into politics, and still occasionally hints at a political run (which seems more viable than ever these days). He has had struggles with drugs and alcohol and has admitted that sobriety is challenging to him. He’s outspoken and has had plenty of public embarrassments stemming from his temper and the occasional ill-advised public comment. Nevertheless promises to dig into his family dramas—and considering his brothers are also actors, that ought to be really, really interesting.

    He’s Surprising—and a Surprisingly Good Writer
    Nevertheless isn’t Baldwin’s first book—that would be 2008’s A Promise to Ourselves, which topped the bestseller lists. That book was a surprise: instead of a wide-ranging memoir or something light and designed to move units, it focused on Baldwin’s experiences in his bitter divorce, and his thoughts on how the process could be improved. He admitted to many mistakes during the process, and shared the moments in which he chose to retreat instead of fight because he thought it best for his kids. The book proved Baldwin isn’t predictable, so who knows what he’s going to reveal or what surprisingly deep point he’s going to make?

    He’s Hilarious
    Actors often seem wittier and smarter than they are because they’re always reading someone else’s dialogue—but Baldwin’s the real deal, hilarious and smart. He’s lived a lot in his 58 years, and he seems to be self-aware about it, the two main requirements for an excellent memoir—in fact, the only requirements. We’re adding this one to the top of our April reading list.

    The post 5 Reasons We Can’t Wait to Read Alec Baldwin’s Memoir Nevertheless appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Jeff Somers 6:30 pm on 2016/12/29 Permalink
    Tags: celebrities, debbie reynolds,   

    Goodbye to the Truly Unsinkable Debbie Reynolds 

    One day after her daughter, the legendary actress and author Carrie Fisher, passed away at age 60, Debbie Reynolds suffered a stroke and died at age 84. In the span of 24 hours, America and the world has lost two of its most beloved and iconic women.

    Reynolds, who earned her first Golden Globe nomination in 1950 and broke out as a major star after her effervescent role as Kathy Selden in 1952’s classic musical Singin’ in the Rain (when she was just 19), lived the life of a smart, confident woman who overcame a tumultuous personal life with grace and good humor. Her Twitter bio read, in part, “I was married a few times—you may have heard about that” and she once said “I happened to marry idiots, which is why I gave up years ago. I have very bad taste in men.”

    America’s Sweetheart
    Reynolds was vivacious and charming; at age 16 she was discovered in classic Hollywood fashion while competing in a beauty pageant. Within two years she was a celebrated actress, and then a superstar when Singin’ in the Rain was released. She became one of the biggest stars of the 1950s and ’60s, starring in multiple film and television projects, including The Affairs of Dobie Gillis, How the West Was Won, and The Unsinkable Molly Brown. She appeared onstage and was a noted cabaret performer, released hit records and made it to the Billboard Charts, and hosted her own hit television show in the late 1960s. If there was a way to entertain you, Debbie Reynolds was good at it, conveying the sheer joy of performance to audiences everywhere, in every medium.

    The Hollywood Life
    Reynolds married singer Eddie Fisher in 1955. At the time, Fisher was the biggest pop star in America, and the marriage was a pairing of Hollywood royalty. When Fisher left Reynolds for Elizabeth Taylor (a good friend of Reynolds’) four years later, it was a scandal of Brangelina proportions. Her second marriage, to businessman Harry Karl, lasted 13 years but left her in serious financial difficulties. She married for a third time in 1984, and divorced for the third time in 1996. Through it all Reynolds continued to appear in celebrated roles in film (including The Bodyguard and Behind the Candelabra), television (especially her beloved role as Grace’s mother on Will and Grace), and onstage (replacing Lauren Bacall in Woman of the Year in 1982).

    Girl Scouts & Business Ventures
    Reynolds was a genuine personality, a woman who maintained a cheerful attitude no matter what. Despite the disappointments of her personal life, she pursued projects that enriched her life. A lifelong supporter of the Girl Scouts (she once said she wanted to be known as the “oldest living Girl Scout”), she was leader of the local Girl Scout Troop in the 1960s when Carrie Fisher was a member. She founded a dance studio in Hollywood, owned and operated the Clarion Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, released an exercise video, and published several books, including her memoirs Unsinkable and Make ‛Em Laugh. No matter what life threw at Reynolds, she was always ready with a smile, and she was devoted to her children, taking sincere joy in their achievements and pain in their own struggles.

    Charity Work
    Reynolds helped found the Thalians, a charity dedicated to assisting those with mental health issues. Quietly, she served as president of the organization for five decades, giving countless hours and endless energy—not to mention her not-insignificant charm and charisma—to a cause that has helped raise millions of dollars for research and awareness-raising, doing much for both finding causes and treatments and helping to dispel the stigma that still attaches itself to people who suffer from these diseases.

    In short, Debbie Reynolds was a brilliant, talented entertainer who worked to bring a little joy into our humdrum lives for more than 60 years; a loving, dedicated mother who raised and mentored kids and step-kids selflessly; a businesswoman who struck out on her own and took risks that didn’t always pan out—but which never sank her; and an icon of classic Hollywood who maintained effortless class and dignity to the end.

    Her son, Todd, said, “She spoke to me this morning and said she missed Carrie. She’s with Carrie now.” With heavy hearts, we certainly hope so.

    The post Goodbye to the Truly Unsinkable Debbie Reynolds appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Whitney Collins 7:50 pm on 2016/10/28 Permalink
    Tags: celebrities, , , , relationship goals   

    Ina Garten’s New Cookbook, Cooking for Jeffrey, Dishes Up Delicious Devotion 

    If you’re familiar with Ina Garten’s hypnotic television series The Barefoot Contessa, you know Ina adores entertaining. Most of her shows center on a party or gathering of friends, for which Ina creates to-die-for menus, table settings, and culinary themes. But the best episodes, most fans will agree, are the ones in which Ina cooks solely for her doting husband, Jeffrey. These particular airings are infused with tenderness, a palpable devotion, and hand-selected comfort foods that express Ina’s love for a man who is, quite possibly, the most charmed husband alive.

    Jeffrey, Ina’s ever-smiling spouse, not only gets to devour his wife’s greatest masterpieces (like Steakhouse Steaks with Roquefort Chive Butter, Bourbon Honey Cake, and Fried Oysters with Lemon Saffron Aioli) on the show to viewers’ immense envy, but he gets to eat them ALL THE TIME IN REAL LIFE. Now, in Ina’s just-released tenth cookbook, Cooking for Jeffrey, readers (and eaters!) are treated to a new compendium of dinners, drinks, and desserts—as well as sides, soups, and salads—that lucky duck Jeffrey has given five stars. On top of that, the cookbook features numerous photographs and anecdotes about Ina and Jeffrey’s nearly 50-year love affair.

    Can’t wait until dinner to see what Cooking for Jeffrey has simmering? To whet your appetite, here’s a baker’s dozen of piping hot goodies the book serves up…

    1. The story of how Ina and Jeffrey met. She was 15, walking past the Dartmouth library to visit her brother, when Jeffrey spied her from a window and demanded to know: “Who’s that girl?”

    2. The recipes for the perfect appetizer combo: Parmesan & Chipotle Popcorn and a Limoncello Vodka Collins. How great is that?

    3. Lentil & Kielbasa Salad. What? Come on, Ina! Sausage salad? Yes, please!

    4. The romantic tale of Jeffrey and Ina camping their way through France as youngsters fresh from school, complete with a faded photo of Ina cooking for Jeffrey on a tiny gas stove in a little pink tent.

    5. Scenes from Ina and Jeffrey’s disastrous first date, in which she has no fake ID.

    6. How a simple tenderloin dinner at a friend’s house in Washington D.C. (way back when Ina worked at the White House writing nuclear policy papers!) changed the way Ina cooked forever.

    7. A full-color centerfold of radishes. Food porn at its finest.

    8. Lamb Stew with Spring Vegetables. (You’ll tear the page out and put it on your vision board.)

    9. That story about when Ina bought a little catering shop in the Hamptons and achieved fame and fortune roasting broccolini.

    10. How to make Kasha Varnishkes. What’s that you ask? Well, it starts with four tablespoons of duck fat, so does it really matter?

    11. How to plan the perfect dinner party. You’ll need a 48″-round table, six chairs, and cheese. If you’re inviting investment bankers, serve hot fudge sundaes with M&M’s.

    12. A recipe for Vanilla Cream Cheese Pound Cake. (Note: NOT paleo.)

    13. And finally, four amazing lists for list lovers: Jeffrey’s All-Time Favorite Dinners, Ina’s Pantry (things you must keep on hand), Ina’s Starter Kitchen (tools of the trade for beginners), and Ina’s Professional Kitchen (tools of the trade for chef-level cooks).

    Cooking for Jeffrey is available now.

    The post Ina Garten’s New Cookbook, Cooking for Jeffrey, Dishes Up Delicious Devotion appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Jeff Somers 5:00 am on 2016/10/11 Permalink
    Tags: , celebrities, , ,   

    Joel Osteen’s New Book is a Blast of Positivity 

    Pastor Joel Osteen of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, is one of the most recognizable—and popular—religious figures in the country today. His “megachurch” in Lakewood attracts more than 50,000 worshippers every weekend, the televised services have audiences of more than 20 million worldwide, and he has already written eight bestselling books. For nearly 20 years, Osteen has forged a unique identity as a Protestant preacher who focuses on optimism and positivity. As Osteen himself put it, “Most people are beaten down enough by life. They already feel guilty enough….So I want them to come to Lakewood or our meetings and be lifted up.”

    That positive message is reinforced in Osteen’s new book, Think Better, Live Better. Osteen offers not just platitudes about our purpose and seeing the bright side of things, but a spiritual roadmap that even those who aren’t particularly religious can use. The most surprising aspect of Osteen’s new book, in fact, is how practical it is. Whether you’re familiar with his preaching style and message or not, whether you consider yourself religious or not, Think Better, Live Better has a simple and effective lesson that’s both refreshing and useful.

    Our Mind is Like a Computer
    The concept of the power of positive thinking isn’t new, and Osteen doesn’t pretend it is. What’s new in his book is the concise way he boils it down. The first line of the book lays it out: “Our mind is like a computer.” Osteen makes the argument that our minds are like software. And just as software can be infected with a virus and “contaminated,” so can our thoughts. We come to accept things like our limitations or our failures, and these negative concepts about ourselves spread until every part of us is bogged down, running slow, crashing.

    Delete the Negatives
    Osteen’s advice here seems simple: delete those negative thoughts—literally, when you find yourself thinking something negative, stop and assert the opposite to yourself. If someone applies a negative label to you, don’t accept it—remove it, mentally, and replace it with something more positive. While Osteen roots all of his advice and insight in scripture, this deceptively simple advice goes beyond religion. What he’s saying, basically, is that we often allow other people to control our “program.” We let what they say about us and do to us affect us far beyond the immediate effect. He cites the example of bullied kids who experience negative effects well into middle age, pointing out that something said to them when they were children still holds them back decades later—when in reality they were just words from other people.

    A Guide
    Osteen doesn’t, however, pretend breaking these patterns and removing these labels and negative thoughts is simple or easy. Part of the appeal and power of his message is the acknowledgement that work must be done. Unlike preachers who tell their followers all they must do is pray, Osteen writes that God has given everyone the “right software,” but it’s up to us to use it properly. The bulk of this book is a guide to deleting these negatives and replacing them with positives, mainly through a series of positive assertions about yourself. Over the course of the book Osteen offers various techniques; for example, he suggests that everything we take in is a seed—some of these seeds will take root and grow into destructive weeds, others into wonderful opportunities. It’s up to us, he says, to choose which ones to water and which to rip out. It’s a simple concept with potentially powerful effects.

    The Cheerleader
    One thing about Joel Osteen that has fueled his success is that he’s not simply blindly cheerful; he uses positivity with skill and purpose. Reading this book could have been like listening to a lecture, a series of admonitions that you’re “doing it wrong.” Osteen avoids this by filling his book with powerful statements of faith—in you. His overall message is that you are amazing, you have all the tools you need to succeed, and you have a great life ahead of you, if only you can get to work deleting negatives and seeing the positives all around you. These bumps of energy encourage you to keep reading, keep working, and keep moving toward your goal.

    The Personal Touch
    Osteen references God and the scripture frequently, but you don’t need to share his faith or specific beliefs to benefit from this book. That’s because he also draws on his own life, and his own failings. Often in the book he’ll illustrate a point by reflecting on an earlier time in his own life and how he could only move past a blockage or a problem when he removed negatives, or realized he already had what he needed to move forward. This gives the book an intimate aspect that anyone, from any background, can identify with.

    The bottom line: Think Better, Live Better is a blast of positivity anyone who finds themselves struggling will benefit from. It not only offers a moment of comfort in the midst of the storm, it also outlines a way forward—and that’s something everyone needs from time to time.

    The post Joel Osteen’s New Book is a Blast of Positivity appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
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