TALES FROM TINSELTOWN: Hollywood types are authoring new ways to beseen nowadays

While security concerns prompted studios to tone down or cancel

premieres this fall, there remain many smaller affairs to fill

insatiable Hollywood social calendars. So great is the need to see and

be seen on the party circuit that some fun seekers are even

attending ... book parties.

Tinseltowners may not read many books (or, as they're more commonly

referred to, "overdeveloped screenplays"), but we don't mind attending

parties for them.

Quincy Jones and Def Jam founder Russell Simmons are just two of the

celebrity authors who released autobiographies last week. There are no

quizzes at these parties, so guests can fake their way through the

proceedings with the usual flattery. "Love your work. Have you optioned

the film rights yet?"

If one wishes to be slightly less obvious, there's always a publicist

nearby to answer unenlightened questions. "Quincy Jones ... that's the

dude from the '70s detective show, right?" "No, that was Barnaby Jones.

Quincy is the musical giant." "Oh, sure, I know. I was just kidding.

Quincy's one of my favorite singers."

I stumbled across a book signing by the aforementioned Russell Simmons

at the local mall. I had no business being there. The mall, I mean.

Football was being played on TV, which means I was supposed to be

watching it. But when the Last Call editor is in town and expects

someone to take her shopping, well, what's a poor columnist who wants to

keep his job to do?

While the lovely and talented editor searched for rare and valuable

items such as are found only at an LA mall, I wandered into Simmons'

gig. There were more publicists than book buyers, which was a cause of


The publisher's publicist, dressed in a bare-midriff football jersey

(offering at least some consolation for missing the game) was displeased

that the bookstore's publicist insinuated the low turnout was her fault.

Someone had not gotten the word out, posters had not been, well, posted.

Tensions were high, sales were not. Simmons' imminent and abrupt

departure was rumored.

Being a loyal member of the entertainment publicist family, I considered

grabbing a copy of Simmons' book - a tell-all about his experiences as a

rap music producer - and asking him to sign it. You know, get the ball

rolling. I knew just what I was going to say. "Love your work. Have you

optioned ..."

But suddenly, one of the publicists (I doubt if it was the girl in the

jersey, but I like to think it was) had a masterstroke: the signing was

moved to a mall record store where a DJ was spinning disks. Brilliant.

In a matter of minutes, the joint was hopping. Once again, a publicist

had saved the day.

It may not have been as important as football, but it was, nevertheless,

a matter of "Life and Def."

Lawrence Mitchell Garrison is an LA-based freelance publicist and


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