In the entertainment world, there are myriad performers; there are also stars, and then there are stars—and not all of them are people. Expanding the definition, one could term Facebook a star; likewise, Secretariat; and so, in its high-fat way, McDonald's. Herewith, a cross-section of "stars" in the broadest sense.
The Nation's Stage: The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 1971–2011 considers the vast array of stars (species Humanus populus) whose performances in theater, music, dance, and more have enriched the cultural heritage of the huge numbers who throng the magnificent granite structure on the Potomac River.
One of last year's Kennedy Center honorees was Oprah. In Chris Rock's tribute to the queen of talk, he spoke of his awe in staring at "the most powerful person in the world, and then next to her Barack Obama." The Oprah Winfrey Show: Reflections on an American Legacy offers fresh takes on the program and the personality.
Also honored at the Kennedy Center, in 2002, was the inimitable Elizabeth Taylor. In addition to an illustrious career over some 50 films in 70 years, Liz was renowned for her humanitarian efforts; when she died in March, Broadway dimmed its lights. Elizabeth Taylor: Her Place in the Sun assures that well-deserved place.
From a place in the sun to a shadier site—Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark tells of the girl born in 1919 on a chicken farm in Petaluma, Calif., who became one of the country's leading film critics. From 1968 to 1991 she reigned at the New Yorker, and moviegoers scoured her reviews for their style, candor, and humor.
Pauline might have looked down her nose at the swooningly romantic film adaptation of a certain Truman Capote novella. But Breakfast at Tiffany's: The Official 50th Anniversary Companion celebrates a bona fide star: it's got a cat named Cat, it's got that famous jewelry store, it's got "Moon River," and it's got Audrey Hepburn!
We predict that this "star" will be around to collect lots of anniversary awards. The Art of Pixar: The Complete Color Scripts and Select Art from 25 Years of Animation celebrates a studio that's revolutionizing the film industry.
Not unlike burgeoning movie studios, many stars endure the "new kid on the block" stage. We vote for Piers Morgan—partly because of his plummy accent, and because he's stepped into some big shoes (belonging to Larry King). The bloke combines pop culture smarts with a dash of highbrow; see Piers Morgan: The Biography.
It's tough to picture Jane Fonda as a new kid anywhere, and certainly not "on the block." From leading lady to activist to businesswoman, she's always seemed totally together. (Well, there was that "Hanoi Jane" episode as she vociferously protested the war in Vietnam.) Jane Fonda: The Private Life of a Public Woman is by Patricia Bosworth, who's written acclaimed biographies of Arbus, Brando, and Clift.
"There's No Business Like Show Business," indeed—and Broadway is home to a positive gaggle of stars. Columnist Peter Filichia has chosen his Broadway Musical MVPs, 1960–2010: The Most Valuable Players of the Past 50 Seasons—those who toil on the Broad Way.
Lastly, our daily/nightly (virtually hourly) news reportage: a 24/7 occupation scrutinized in From Yesterday to Today: Six Decades of Historical Moments, Unforgettable Segments, and Newsmaking Interviews. The rich and famous are big business in this arena, where media mavens can turn common folk into stars and events can sink a career with a few strategically chosen photographs.
PW's Top 10 Performing Arts
The Nation's Stage:
The John F. Kennedy Center for the
Performing Arts, 1971–2011
Michael Dolan. Simon & Schuster, Oct.
The Oprah Winfrey Show:
Reflections on an American Legacy
Deborah Davis. Abrams, Oct.
Elizabeth Taylor: Her Place in the Sun
Cindy De La Hoz. Running Press, Nov.
Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark
Brian Kellow. Viking, Oct.
Breakfast at Tiffany's: The Official 50th Anniversary Companion
Sarah Gristwood. Rizzoli, Sept.
The Art of Pixar:
The Complete Color Scripts and Select Art from 25 Years of Animation
Amid Amidi. Chronicle Books, Nov.
Piers Morgan: The Biography
Emily Herbert. Trafalgar Square, Sept.
The Private Life of a Public Woman
Patricia Bosworth. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Aug.
Broadway Musical MVPs, 1960–2010:
The Most Valuable Players of the
Past 50 Seasons
Peter Filichia. Applause Books, Oct.
From Yesterday to Today: Six Decades of Historical Moments, Unforgettable Segments, and Newsmaking Interviews
Stephen Battaglio. Running Press, Nov.