Bruce!: My Adventures in the Skin Trade and Other Essays

Bruce Vilanch, Author
Bruce Vilanch, Author Jeremy P. Tarcher $18.95 (139p) ISBN 978-1-58542-046-9
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Joke-writer Vilanch is known as the man who made Bette Midler funny, who made Billy Crystal beloved as Academy Award emcee and who cracks wise with the best on Hollywood Squares. In this collection of 26 humorous essays--many of which have appeared in the Advocate--Vilanch takes aim at the Academy Awards, Donny and Marie Osmond and the Super Bowl. He is a crack shot with these easy targets--as a writer for an Osmond special, he considered it a ""personal triumph"" when he had Marie sing ""Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me""--but too often the pieces resemble occasional journalism rather than anything substantial. An interview with Robin Williams while walking around the Castro, San Francisco's gay mecca, raises a few smiles that evaporate quickly. Vilanch is more interesting when he uses humor to address more serious issues: his meditation on why Lana Turner died the same day Hugh Grant was arrested for picking up a working girl is smart and savvy, and his remembrance of actress Elizabeth Montgomery's life and career is moving. His essays on the lack of gay representation in movies (which makes witty use of the Titanic) and the importance of gay pride are also intriguing. But Vilanch has trouble reconciling his funny and serious sides in print, and these pieces, while the most ambitious in the collection, show both his talents and his limitations. Agent, Dan Strone, William Morris Agency. (Sept.)
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