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
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