book reviews, celebrities

Repost: Please pass the Penicillin…

Here’s a reposted book review from Epinions.com. I wrote this on February 6, 2013, and it appears it was penned for a “lean n’ mean” challenge (reviews under 500 words). As you can see, I wasn’t impressed. The review appears as/is.

What was I thinking when I downloaded Peggy Trentini’s book, Once Upon a Star: Celebrity Kiss and Tell Stories (2012)?  I must have decided to buy this book after reading something especially depressing or boring.  It’s been on my Kindle for awhile, though, and after my last book, I decided it might be fun and refreshing.  Well, now having read this book, I can honestly say there’s nothing refreshing about it. 

Who the HELL is Peggy Trentini and why did many stars fuck her in the 80s and 90s?

Pardon the crass language, but honestly, that’s really what Once Upon a Star is all about.  It starts out innocently enough.  Trentini writes about growing up on Newport, California, the daughter of strict Catholic parents who didn’t want her wearing makeup or dressing stylishly.  She was supposedly a straight A student, though you’d never guess it from her writing, which is chock full of typos and grammatical errors.  One day, Trentini’s friend talked her parents into allowing a makeover.  From then on, Peggy was “pretty”… and being pretty apparently leads to being a wh*re.  At least in Los Angeles…

Trentini expends few words on her upbringing.  She jumps right into how she came to Hollywood at age 18, her dreams of being an intellectual (groan) apparently given up in favor of becoming a celebrity.  She writes of being cast on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and then getting a part in her first film, Young Doctors In Love.  Before too long, she and Sylvester Stallone are screwing each other and Trentini spares no detail… or maybe the details were just lifted from a fantasy novel.  From there, it gets much tackier. 

Each chapter is yet another tawdry tale of how some star thought Peggy was “irresistible” and had to have her, usually just for the night.  They’d have wild sex, get drunk, and then break up, lather, rinse, repeat.  As I read about each celebrity and recalled other celebrity memoirs I’d read about some of them, I wondered if Peggy ever caught diseases from her escapades.

Aside from being a starf*cker and B grade actress, Trentini was also on the “Swedish Bikini Team”, which was an ad campaign for one of the worst beers ever, Old Milwaukee.  It’s only fitting that she would be selling a product that has led to so much cheap, meaningless sex among college students. 

I’m certainly no snob when it comes to reading material.  I knew this book was going to be trashy when I bought it.  However, even for trash, Once Upon A Star just plain sucks harder than Trentini ever could.  Trentini writes of all the celebrities she’s screwed, then tries to seem like a nice, normal, girl next door.  It’s not believable or authentic, and she’s not someone I’d want to know.  She comes off as a shallow narcissist who still has a lot of maturing to do, despite now being in her 40s.

Seriously?  Skip this book

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book reviews, celebrities

A review of Rememberings: Scenes from My Complicated Life, by Sinead O’Connor

Until very recently, I was not one of Sinead O’Connor’s fans. I remember being in high school when she burst onto the music scene, scoring a smash hit with her cover of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U”. I was aghast by her shaved head and hauntingly beautiful blue eyes. I was astonished by her powerful, raw, emotional vocals. But, for some reason, I never bought her albums. It could be because I had little money for music in those days, so what little I did have, I spent on people I really loved listening to, like Kate Bush. I was, and still am, a Kate Bush fanatic.

Still, I watched Sinead O’Connor’s antics, which came to a head in 1992 when she was the musical guest on Saturday Night Live. She made huge waves when she tore up a photo of Pope John Paul II on live TV. She immediately became a pariah and I’m not sure New Yorkers have forgiven her yet, even after all this time. Personally, when I think about all the furor that arose over Sinead’s decision to tear up that photo, all I can do is shake my head. We tolerated a sexually abusive, narcissistic, criminal moron like Donald Trump as our president for four years and people are still clamoring for him to be the president. Yet Sinead tears up a picture of the Pope, and her career goes straight down the shitter… temporarily, anyway.

Seriously? People hated Sinead O’Connor for this? It just seems so ridiculous now.

I don’t know what made me purchase Rememberings: Scenes from My Complicated Life, which was just released on June 1st. I didn’t even own any of Sinead O’Connor’s music until I started reading her book. Well… I did own a few songs she sang on compilation albums. She did a beautiful version of “Sacrifice” by Elton John on the Two Rooms tribute album. I prefer her version to the original, actually…. and I like to sing that one myself. I also have her version of Dolly Parton’s song, “Dagger Through The Heart”, which, in her book, O’Connor writes is one of her favorite songs. She writes that after she recorded her version, Dolly wrote her a lovely thank you letter. Sinead had it framed and gave it to her beloved stepmother, Viola. That’s another reason why I like Sinead. She loves her stepmother. Also, my great grandmother’s name was Viola, although I never had the chance to know her.

Because of Sinead’s book, I have bought several of her albums and am wondering what took me so long. Sinead O’Connor is a wonderful singer and, based on her book, I think she’s a pretty marvelous person, too. She’s certainly a good storyteller, even if her writing isn’t always grammatically perfect, as a British friend pointed out when I delightedly shared one of Sinead’s anecdotes on Facebook. I like Sinead’s writing style. It’s engaging. I felt like she was sitting in a room, talking to me as if I was a friend. That’s the way I like to write, too.

I often laughed at Sinead’s stories, some of which are legitimately hilarious and outrageous. Some of her other stories were very moving. Others were infuriating. Overall, I came away with the idea that Sinead O’Connor is a very complex person who feels deeply and emotes freely. And yes, she also suffers from mental illness, of which she openly admits. I would imagine that Sinead O’Connor is probably not an easy person to be around, especially when her temper is flaring. But she’s probably just as often kind of awesome… especially when she’s smoked weed. Sinead is also a big pothead, which she also freely admits.

It’s not that often that I feel compelled to share quotes from my Kindle on social media. As I read Rememberings, I found myself sharing a number of Sinead’s musings. She writes that she actually started writing her book in 2015, but then had a full hysterectomy in Ireland due to endometriosis. Apparently, the doctors in Ireland did not prescribe hormone replacement therapy for Sinead; they just sent her home with a follow up appointment and a bottle of Tylenol. Her uterus and ovaries were removed, which sent her into instant menopause. She claims that caused her to go a bit bonkers. She also writes that musicians are naturally crazy– especially if they’ve also had head injuries, which she also claims she suffered when she was a child. I don’t know if that claim is true, although I do think that most creative people are a bit eccentric and weird on some level. God knows, people have called me “weird” my whole life. Below is a gallery of some of the more interesting quotes I found in Rememberings. I particularly loved her comments about Mormon missionaries and her story about the “plump old nun” who drew a picture of a penis with huge balls. That’s the kind of story I like to tell.

Sinead O’Connor has definitely had an unconventional life, so there is truth in advertising in her book’s title. She has four children by four men, and she’s been married three times, although she only married one of her children’s fathers. Two of the men who fathered her children are still friends. The other two, she says would cross the street if they saw each other. She writes lovingly about her children… and she does seem to have great pride and affection for them. I do suspect that they’ve had their share of problems, though, because having a mentally ill parent, particularly one who is also a famous musician, is hard. But I don’t get the sense that Sinead is a narcissist, or anything. When Sinead O’Connor writes praises about her children, I don’t think she’s being fake. She openly acknowledges that they’ve had difficulties, in part, due to her career and her mental illness issues. She also suffered tremendous child abuse when she was growing up, and those traumatic experiences have no doubt affected her as an adult.

Sinead O’Connor talks about her book.

Sinead O’Connor has even had dealings with Dr. Phil, who put her in a treatment center. She was already being hospitalized when Dr. Phil stepped in, and being mentally ill, she decided to try his approach because he was “Dr. ‘fuckin’ Phil” and of course he could fix her. It turns out the people she saw at his behest were not helpful at all, and he basically exploited her for television. She says the psychiatrist at the first facility Dr. Phil sent her two offered her a fig bar, which immediately turned her off for some reason. She says fig bars are for “hippies”. It turns out the psychiatrist was a bit of a flake, and she kind of implies that Dr. Phil is in with the MAGA crowd, although he “faked” being disgusted with it. She offers a delightfully profane criticism of Donald Trump, and I wholeheartedly agree with her astute comments. She may have a mental illness, but she’s no dummy. Personally, I think Trump and Dr. Phil are cut from the same cloth.

This book also includes commentary about Sinead’s albums. She writes about her favorite songs, how she came to name her albums and songs she’s written, and why she made certain recordings. I appreciated the backstories to a lot of her music, many of which made me want to buy and listen to her songs. The other day, one of her songs came on my HomePod and I had never heard it before. It was a hilarious song called “Daddy I’m Fine”… and it just spoke to me. And I wouldn’t have heard it if I hadn’t read her book. I love that Sinead was so generous with her stories about how she created her music and the people who inspired her.

Love this.

Honestly, reading Sinead O’Connor’s book makes me want to visit Ireland again and hang out with funny people. Given that so much of my own ancestry is from Scotland, Ireland, and England, it stands to reason that I’d feel at home there. Alas, we can’t go anywhere near the UK or Ireland anytime soon, thanks to the fucking coronavirus. But I sure did enjoy reading Sinead’s book, even if she does seem oddly enamored of American culture and even American healthcare, which she seems to think is better than Irish healthcare. And maybe it is… who knows?

Anyway… I really liked Sinead O’Connor’s book, Rememberings: Scenes from My Complicated Life. I laughed; I sighed; I remembered things; I learned things; I became inspired… especially to spend money on music. Fortunately, Bill thinks music is a good investment. I know some people think Sinead O’Connor is “crazy”. And maybe she is… but at least she’s honest about it. I like her. I recommend her book. And now, I’m going to have to find the next book and hope it entertains me as much as Sinead’s has.

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celebrities, mental health, money, psychology

Britney Spears says, “I deserve to have a life!”

This morning, 39 year old Britney Spears is all over the news. She went to court yesterday to ask a Los Angeles court judge, Brenda Penny, to end the “abusive conservatorship” her father, Jamie Spears, has had over her affairs since 2008 (a licensed professional conservator, Jodi Montgomery, took over direct oversight earlier this year). At this point, Spears’ financial affairs are jointly handled by Jamie Spears and Bessemer Trust. It’s hard to believe 13 years have passed since Britney’s very public mental health breakdown. I was never a big follower of Britney’s career, but I do remember the dramatic news stories and photos of her shaven head. I heard about her impulsive decision to marry Jason Alexander back in 2004, only to divorce him 55 hours later. Clearly, she did have mental health issues at one time. But does she still have them today?

News about Britney Spears. She doesn’t want to perform while her father is still in control. I don’t blame her.

Based on what I’ve read, which is admittedly not very much, it would seem to me that there are grounds to allow Britney Spears more control over her life. I haven’t heard of any other mental health dramas involving her in quite some time. She’s been quietly pushing to end the conservatorship for years. She was even working as an entertainer, at least until 2019. I wouldn’t have expected Spears to be working last year. Practically no one in the entertainment business was doing live shows after March 2020. But she’s clearly still successfully generating money, and people are still interested in her career.

Britney Spears dropped quite a bombshell in her testimony yesterday, claiming that she has an IUD that she would like to have removed so that she might have another child with her boyfriend, Sam Asghari. However, since she has no rights to make her own medical decisions, the IUD remains implanted against her will. She says she’s been forced to take medications she doesn’t want, such as lithium, a mood stabilizer often prescribed for treatment of bipolar disorder. Britney says the drug made her feel “drunk” and unable to carry on conversations with her family. She wants to do therapy at her home, where she might have privacy. Instead, she’s forced to go to another location, where the paparazzi “stalks” her.

Spears also claims that her management has forced her to perform against her will. She claims that she was threatened with a lawsuit if she didn’t do her shows. She says she felt like she was being “trafficked” and should be able to “say no to a dance move”. She’s claimed that she’s been forced to perform, even while sick with a high fever, and she’s been required to enter mental health treatment facilities against her will, based on exaggerated circumstances. Britney has also said that she doesn’t want to perform again, as long as her father is in charge of her affairs.

Finally, Britney Spears says that it makes no sense that she’s trusted and expected to perform at high level shows that involve millions of dollars in investments, yet can’t make the simplest decisions about personal aspects of her life. Frankly, I can see her point on this. It does seem to me like she should have had control over her affairs a long time ago, once the acute mental health crisis had ended. Or, at least she should have had some of her rights restored. At the very least, her affairs should not have been handled by a family member/authority figure like her father, but by a neutral party. But given that, as his daughter’s conservator, Jamie Spears was “earning” $16,000 a month plus $2,000 a month for office space rent, I guess I can see why he’d be reluctant to give up such a sweet gig.

What a mess! And it appears to be mostly over money, which is a real shame.

It’s concerning to read about some of the alleged personal issues Jamie Spears has had that might have made him a poor choice as a conservator in the first place. Lynne Spears’, Britney’s mom and Jamie’s second ex wife, claimed in her 2008 memoirs that her ex husband “verbally abused and abandoned her” and “exhibited erratic behavior.” In 1980, when Lynne Spears first attempted to divorce Jamie Spears, she filed a restraining order against him, worried that he would harass her, particularly if he had been drinking alcohol. Jamie Spears is evidently a notorious alcoholic. Lynne Spears has also spoken in favor of having Jamie Spears removed from his interests in Britney’s affairs.

In 1998, before Britney hit stardom, the family was struggling financially and on the verge of bankruptcy. When Jamie and Lynne Spears divorced in 2002, apparently things got better– Jamie Spears was not that involved in Britney’s life as she rocketed toward fame and fortune. It wasn’t until she had her breakdown that he was suddenly so interested in her affairs. Mr. Spears also allegedly was involved in an altercation involving one of Britney’s teenaged sons. Britney’s ex husband, Kevin Federline, got a restraining order against Jamie Spears, forbidding him to see his sons with Britney.

What especially sucks for Britney is that she is being forced to pay, not only for her own attorneys’ services, but also for the services of opposing attorneys. According to The New York Times:

As the fight drags on, the bills are piling up — and, in a quirk of the conservatorship system, Ms. Spears has to pay for lawyers on both sides, including those arguing against her wishes in court. A recent $890,000 bill from one set of Mr. Spears’s lawyers, covering about four months of work, included media strategizing for defending the conservatorship.

So… it appears to me that a whole lot of people are on Britney’s payroll, and a whole lot of people stand to lose if she regains the freedom to make her own decisions. It’s a really fucked up situation. I feel sad for her, because it looks to me like she’s being abused by someone who should always be interested in protecting her– her father. But instead, it looks like he’s profiting off of her and, perhaps, even getting a charge out of running her life. He’s allegedly referred to Britney as a “racehorse who has to be handled like one.” And at age 68, it’s not as if he’s likely to kick the bucket anytime soon.

Jamie Spears’ lawyer, Vivian Lee Thoreen assures us that Jamie has his daughter’s best interests at heart. She has stated to People magazine, quite nauseatingly, “Any time Britney wants to end her conservatorship, she can ask her lawyer to file a petition to terminate it; she has always had this right but in 13 years has never exercised it… Britney knows that her Daddy loves her, and that he will be there for her whenever and if she needs him, just as he always has been — conservatorship or not.” I don’t know about that… and while my southern mom always called her father “Daddy”, it seems especially inappropriate, disrespectful, and demeaning for a lawyer to address another adult in such a way, as if Britney Spears is just a child who needs reassurance. No 39 year old woman should be addressed like that, or spoken of or to in that way.

I truly hope that the judge in this case exercises wisdom. I don’t know all the details, of course, but from what I’ve read, it’s high time for Jamie Spears to get back in control and support of his own life. He needs to leave Britney alone. And if she really does need help managing her affairs, it should be from someone of her own choosing, who is neutral, professional, and works for her– and in her best interests. That help should not come from someone like her father, who will always have emotional ties to her, for better or worse. He’s not neutral, and from the sounds of it, he’s not particularly mentally stable himself.

No matter what, it sounds to me like Jamie’s time having any say in Britney’s life should end. I’m rooting for Britney. I hope she gets relief very soon. #Free Britney!

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book reviews, celebrities

Repost: My review of Debby Boone’s life story at age 25, So Far…

I wrote this review for Epinions.com in 2011. It appears as/is. This was another very popular review, despite the fact that Debby Boone’s life story was published in 1981!  I think people are interested in this review because Debby wrote about Pat Boone’s penchant for spankings.  People are dirty.  😉 Some people also don’t agree with my assessment of Debby Boone circa 1981. Remember folks, it’s just my opinion.

Debby Boone’s big hit!

The other night, I posted a news article on Facebook about 50s singer Pat Boone, who is apparently a tried and true Tea Partyer.  Boone was in the news for saying that President Obama was not really born in Hawaii.  He claimed that he went to Kenya and “everybody there” told him that Obama was born there.  Therefore, in Pat Boone’s mind, Barack Obama is not eligible to be our president.  The response to my link about Pat Boone got lively and that inspired me to re-read his daughter Debby Boone’s 1981 book, So Far.

This isn’t the first book I’ve read by Pat Boone’s offspring.  When I was in high school, I read Cherry Boone O’Neill’s book, Starving for Attention, because I was learning about eating disorders.  Cherry Boone O’Neill, Pat Boone’s eldest daughter, had suffered from anorexia nervosa in the 1970s.  At the time, I didn’t know that much about 50s sex symbol/teen idol Pat Boone.  I had heard of his daughter, Debby Boone, who had sung the smash hit “You Light Up My Life”.  But other than that, the Boone family was a mystery to me.

I learned a bit about Pat Boone’s family from reading Cherry’s book.  I knew that Pat Boone was a very strict disciplinarian and that he and his wife, Shirley, had raised their four daughters to be obedient servants of the Lord.  In her book, Cherry had explained that she and her sisters had grown up in luxury, but their days were centered around being perfect Christians.  Besides being heavily involved in church activities, Pat Boone’s girls had inherited formidable musical talent and performed quite a bit.  I wanted to learn more about them, so a few years ago, I picked up Debby Boone’s 1981 book, So Far, for the first time.  Now that I’ve read it a second time, I think I can probably put this book back on the shelf for good.

Debby Boone’s life story circa 1981

At the very beginning of her book, Debby Boone writes that writing has never come easily for her.  She doesn’t know why she’s writing her life story.  She explains that she had originally been skeptical that writing her story would be worthwhile.  Her mind changed when she started getting fan mail from people.  Evidently, the mail got to be too much for her to answer, so she figured it would be easier to write a book.  Of course, it’s not lost on me that those who wanted to get Debby’s response would be paying hard earned money for the book.  But nevertheless, I guess her fans appreciated it.

Bear in mind that Debby Boone was born in 1956.  In 1981, she was just 25 years old.  Yes, she had done some exciting things in her then brief lifetime.  She had grown up in California with a famous father.  She later became very famous herself, when she released the radio version of “You Light Up My Life”, a song that was originally recorded by the late session singer Kasey Cisyk for the film by the same name.  Debby Boone’s version of the song was huge and it made her a household name.  So, I imagine in 1981, Debby Boone was still pretty famous.  Why shouldn’t she have written a book while people still remembered her name? Well, I’ll tell you why.

There’s just not much to this book

Debby Boone freely admits that she’s not much of a writer.  She admits that as a child, she often handed in work that was done by her three sisters, rather than her.  At age 25, she hadn’t really lived yet, although she apparently did spend a lot of time turned over her father’s knee. 

Debby Boone was a bad girl

Evidently, Pat Boone spanked his daughters even after they had reached the legal age of majority.  Debby Boone frequently describes behavior that, frankly, probably warranted punishment.  In fact, there are a few times in the book that she basically admits to being a manipulative bully to her sisters and kids she knew in school.  She seems almost a little proud of her brattiness, as she describes how she got some poor little boy in trouble by falsely accusing him of swearing at her.  Her tone is almost gleeful as she relates how she conned her younger sister, Laury, into riding her bike naked around the front yard and how, more than once, Laury took one of Pat Boone’s legendary beatings in her stead because Laury had a tender heart and hated to see her sisters cry.

Speaking of beatings

Pat Boone was spanked until he was seventeen years old.  Apparently, Pat Boone’s mother had a way with a strap and would make his bum smart so much that he couldn’t sit down for awhile.  Apparently not to be undone by his mother, Pat Boone was also fond of using implements to discipline his daughters.  Debby Boone writes that she and her sisters would often compare “war wounds”.  Pat Boone would use a slipper, a belt, or any other tool that stung to make his spankings really hurt.  Consequently, after one of Pat Boone’s spankings, his daughters were often left with bruises. 

In a chapter entitled “The Last Spanking”, Debby explains that when she was 19 years old, her father got angry with her for taking too long to get a snack from a hotel vending machine.  Pat Boone caught Debby in the hotel lobby, talking to one of the musicians in their band.  It was late and she had been gone about twenty minutes.  He was “worried”, so he grabbed her, marched her upstairs, and gave her “what for”.  He meant to give her a spanking, but in the course of their fight, had accidently hit her in the head.  The blow caused a goose egg and the hapless musician Debby had been talking to in the lobby called Pat on the phone to cool him down.  I guess it was enough time for Pat to come to his senses.  Supposedly, he never spanked Debby again.

The B-I-B-L-E… 

Debby Boone writes of her experiences helping children with autism, visiting sick children in hospitals, and working with Youth With A Mission (YWAM– pronounced “why wham”).  She seems proud of her work with children, given that her older sister, Cherry, and Cherry’s husband, Dan, also worked with YWAM and no doubt had a lot to do with her choice to work with that organization.

She also writes of how she became Mrs. Gabriel Ferrer.  For those who don’t know, Debby Boone’s mother-in-law is the late Rosemary Clooney.  That means she is related by marriage to George Clooney.  Of course, George Clooney was a nobody in 1981. 

As they were with everything else in their daughters’ lives, Mr. and Mrs. Pat Boone were heavily involved in Debby’s romances.  Gabriel Ferrer had to ask for Debby’s hand in marriage.  And it was a good thing he was a devoted Christian.  Apparently, Pat Boone would not have stood for anyone but a “believer” to marry his daughters.

An abrupt ending

So Far comes to a screeching halt when Debby and Gabriel Ferrer get married.  A year after the wedding, they had their first child, Jordan.  These details are at the very end of the book, which to me, seems odd.  It’s almost as if the major life events of getting married and becoming a mother were almost an afterthought.

My thoughts

I think Debby Boone was very premature in writing her life story, even if she admits it was only “so far”.  I have a feeling she wrote this book for the money, which is, I guess, a valid enough reason to write it.  But she comes off as a bit smug and self-congratulatory in this book.  She reprints a couple of thank you letters she got from the mothers of sick kids she visited in the hospital.  She writes very little about her childhood.  Indeed, this book seems to be more about her life as a young adult than her life story.  And other than the fact that her dad employed corporal punishment, wouldn’t let his daughters date or wear makeup until they were 16, and took liberties with his daughters’ love lives and finances, she doesn’t reveal that much about her family.

I got a lot more out of Cherry Boone O’Neill’s book, Starving for Attention, which was a lot more interesting, better written, and much more complete.  Debby Boone does include some photos, but they are poorly edited and a couple of them were also in Cherry’s book.

Even if you are a Debby Boone fan, I’m not sure So Far is worth reading.  If you’re actually curious about what it was like to be Pat Boone’s daughter, I recommend Starving for Attention.  I think Cherry far outshone Debby in the book writing department, even if Debby will always be known for her one hit wonder.

Overall  

I don’t expect a lot of people are looking for this book anymore.   For good reason, it’s long out of print.  Plenty of copies are available on Amazon, again, for good reason.

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book reviews, celebrities

Repost: book review of “You’ll Never Nanny in this Town Again”…

Here’s an as/is repost of a review I wrote in 2011. It’s light reading… maybe I should read more books like this one.

Although I have a stack of books on heavy topics just waiting to be read, I recently felt like reading something fun and vapid.  I spotted Suzanne Hansen’s 2006 book You’ll Never Nanny in This Town Again: The True Adventures of a Hollywood Nanny on my Kindle and decided I wanted to read it.  It looked like it might be lightweight reading and maybe a little juicy.  And having finished this book yesterday, I can say that You’ll Never Nanny in This Town Again lived up to its appearance.

The premise

It’s the late 1980s and 19 year old Suzy Hansen has just finished nanny school in Portland, Oregon.  She comes from tiny Cottage Grove, Oregon and has visions of making her way in the world and shaping young lives with her nannying skills.  Hansen eventually ends up in Los Angeles, California, where, at least in the late 1980s, there was a booming job market for nannies.  Hansen lands some interviews with a few eccentric celebrities, eventually taking a job working for Michael and Judy Ovitz looking after their three young children.

Who are Michael and Judy Ovitz you ask?  Well, maybe you aren’t asking now, but I sure was.  I had never heard of either of them when I first started reading this book, but it turns out they were an extremely powerful Hollywood couple back in the day.  Michael Ovitz is a talent agent who founded Creative Artists Agency (CAA) back in 1975.  CAA represented huge stars like Dustin Hoffman, John Travolta, Tom Cruise, and Barbra Streisand, just to name a few. 

In the late 80s, Ovitz had a reputation for being a workaholic who drove himself and his employees relentlessly.  He was a master at dealmaking and blacklisting.  No one ever dared to say no to him, lest they suffer the consequences.  And when Michael Ovitz found a trusted employee who worked for a fair wage, he wasn’t above putting them in “golden handcuffs” to keep them from jumping ship to work where conditions and pay were better.  Naturally, innocent lamb Suzy didn’t know all of this when she took the job as a live in nanny looking after Joshua, Amanda, and Brandon, the Ovitzes’ young kids.  Hansen gave pseudonyms to the children in order to “protect their privacy”, but you can Google them if you want to know their real names.

This book is Hansen’s story of what it was like to work for the Ovitz family.  She details the thrill of meeting celebrities, living among genuine Picassos, making friends with the other “help”, learning to love the children, and being treated like an object with no personal needs.  Hansen spent over a year with the Ovitz family and says she did good work, but eventually became burned out.  She wasn’t paid well enough, didn’t get enough time off, and started feeling bitter and angry.  She dared to quit the job, even after Michael Ovitz allegedly threatened that she would “never nanny in Hollywood again”. 

As is turns out, Hansen did work as a Hollywood nanny again, even though Ovitz supposedly did his damnedest to blacklist her.  She found a job with another maverick who had left Ovitz’s stable of showbiz clients.  But while the Ovitz family had expected Suzy to do everything for their kids, Suzy’s new boss was a hands-on parent.  She didn’t last long there because there wasn’t enough for her to do.

Suzy’s third nannying experience was with yet another Hollywood power couple from the 1980s.  Even though this family had dealings with Michael Ovitz, who had yet again tried to interfere with Suzy’s employability, they were kind enough to assess her themselves.  But by the time Suzy had spent a few months with them, she discovered she was tired of nannying and ready to switch careers.

My thoughts  

I have to admit that I sort of enjoyed this book, probably because I’m about Suzy Hansen’s age and the stars she was rubbing elbows with are stars that were big when I was growing up.  I like celebrity tell-alls and this book, with its perspective from a normal girl thrust into the Hollywood fishbowl, was unique.  I got the sense that Hollywood isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and suddenly felt glad I never had any desire to be a nanny, particularly for celebrity families.

That being said, I had to wonder if Suzy felt bad for revealing so much about her former employers and their kids.  She’s particularly harsh when she writes about the Ovitzes, probably because they didn’t treat her as well as the other two celebrity families she worked for.  Maybe there was a little revenge going on when she decided to write this book?  She changes the kids’ names, but anyone with a computer can look them up.  Besides, they’re all adults now anyway.

Hansen writes well and her anecdotes are mostly entertaining, even if they are kind of distasteful.  A few other reviewers have mentioned that this book was re-published around the time The Nanny Diaries came out.  I don’t know about that; never read The Nanny Diaries.  And maybe if you weren’t around in the late 1980s, this book won’t be interesting to you.  But I have to admit, I liked You’ll Never Nanny in This Town Again.  I found myself rooting for Suzy, especially as she wrote about how Michael Ovitz apparently “had it out” for her and tried to mess with her ability to work. 

Overall   

If you like true stories about celebrities or trashy tell-alls, this book might be of interest.  I give it four stars.

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