Monday, November 26, 2012

50 Shades of Chelsea Handler

The stand-up comedian, known in the books world for her best-selling, vodka-soaked tales of debauchery, is publishing a massive book of "bigger stories, smaller type," titled 50 Shades of Chartreuse: This Time It's Personal. Handler's fourth book will be published under her imprint, A Chelsea Handler Book/Borderline Amazing, which has already published Lies That Chelsea Handler Told Me, a collection of stories about Handler by her friends and family. Handler is the host of the late-night talk show Chelsea Lately and the mockumentary show After Lately, both on E!, where she has talked about everything from her relationship with rapper 50 Cent to being attacked by a sea lion in the Pacific Ocean. "This sounds to me like one big wiki leak," Handler jokes in the release. 

The 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon has many fans— Chelsea Handler is not among them. Nor does she probably care about the upcoming movie adaptation of E.L. James' hot, erotic best-seller, or about the film's equally steamy list of actors and actresses currently imagined for the roles of Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele. One could say, it's just not this comedian's cup of tea, or shot of vodka, as the case may be. "It was insulting to anyone's intelligence to read that," Handler boldly proclaimed of the hit book when she finally visited Piers Morgan's eponymous talk show, as CNN reports. "Then my friends who had suggested that I read it, I e-mailed them like, 'you should be ashamed of yourselves for finishing this kind of book. It's a piece of trash.' "In a statement, Beth de Guzman, the VP, Editor-in-Chief of the paperbacks division at GC, who acquired the book joked, "The new book is groundbreaking. Bigger stories, smaller type. We can't wait to publish it.” 

It is strange, though, as Handler might seem to be one to really embrace the Grey area. After all, the late-night TV host is provocative and boundaries-pushing; she packs a salty sense of humor; she's not shy to traipse on the raunchy side; and she certainly isn't afraid to throw a figurative whip of her own around sometimes. Sounds like a perfect equation for some Grey and Steele action. But, as a best-selling author herself (Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea and Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang are among her sassy works), Handler's biggest beef with the book seems to be on the quality control side; she has a different perspective on the printed word, and she simply cannot handle James' style. "I don't profess to be ... a scholarly writer per se. I know my books are really silly and stupid, but I at least think they're amusing to some degree. [50 Shades of Grey] was just so poorly written," she said.

However, while Chelsea Handler may never be a Fifty aficionado nor queuing for a midnight screening of Grey whenever it premieres in movie theaters, she's still a rather brilliant marketer and is using the "piece of trash" to her advantage. Her upcoming read she conveniently named, 50 Shades of Chartreuse: This Time It's Personal, admitting, she "just wanted to rip off the title because [she] just thought it was such a stupid book." Stupid book or not, it was probably a smart, copycat move on Handler's part. Who wouldn't want to embrace a few more shades of color and delve into a green day that's sure to pack its own measure of sexy spice? The book has been out for a month now and makes a GREAT holiday gift!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Dead Celebrity Cookbook Presents— Christmas In Tinseltown

When it comes to holiday fun, the stars of Hollywood's Golden Age knew how to make merry— on stage, on screen, and especially on the dinner table. With Christmas in Tinseltown (HCI $14.95)— the follow-up to his international sensation The Dead Celebrity Cookbook— Frank DeCaro shows how to put the kitsch into your holiday kitchen as he salutes a quirky collection of celebrities who are gone, but fondly remembered every year at Christmastime. Filled with pop culture ruminations and genuinely delicious recipes, Christmas in Tinseltown pays tribute to such movie classics as It's A Wonderful Life and White Christmas, gives three cheers for such time-honored animated gems as Frosty the Snowman and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and puts such offbeat offerings as The Star Wars Holiday Special and The Pee-wee's Playhouse Christmas Special in their rightful place— your dining room! In such chapters as "Miracle Whip on 34th Street," "Eat Meat in St. Louis," and "Munch of the Wooden Soldiers," DeCaro dishes up a virtual smorgasbord of culinary delights that will enliven any holiday gathering or celebration.

Tempt your guests with Peggy Lee's Holiday Halibut Casserole, Burl Ives's Stuffed Leg of Goat Hawaiian, Lucille Ball's Brazil Nut Stuffing, Nat "King" Cole's Baked Ham Loaf, Guy Lombardo's Lobster Lombardo, Dick Clark's Spicy Turkey Meatloaf, Rosemary Clooney's Viennese Goulash, Bing Crosby's Sugar Cookies, Shirley Booth's Pumpkin Bread, Dinah Shore's Fruitcake, and Spike Jones's Molasses Jumbles. Then wash them all down with Robert Mitchum's Eggnog, Edmund Gwenn's Christmas Cup, or John Lennon's Hot Cocoa. This star-studded cookbook promises to get even the biggest Scrooge on your list into the holiday spirit and will have you saying your "ho, ho, ho's" in true Hollywood style for many many years to come.

About the Author: Best known for his years as the movie critic on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, writer/performer Frank DeCaro is heard each weekday morning on his own live call-in program, The Frank DeCaro Show on Sirius XM Satellite Radio. The author of the groundbreaking memoir A Boy Named Phyllis, DeCaro's writing has appeared in Martha Stewart Living, Vogue, Entertainment Weekly, and The New York Times. Follow him @frankdecaroshow on Twitter, "like" him on Facebook, and visit him at:

Sample Recipes:

Robert Mitchum 1917 to 1997
Robert Mitchum was a cool cat and a real Hollywood he-man who became an actor only as a last recourse. He spent much of his early life being what used to be called a “delinquent.” His bad boy reputation was hard-won. He was expelled from schools, he did time on a chain gang, he had a nervous breakdown— the man did it all... and survived! He took his tough-as-nails street cred and parlayed it into a fantastic career playing prototypical antiheroes in the movies. He started as a villain in Hopalong Cassidy movies in the early 1940s, then segued into war pictures including 1944's Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo. Noir films came next like Jacques Tourneur's 1947 classic Out of the Past and Don Siegel's 1949 The Big Steal. Holiday Affair was a bit of a switch for Mitchum. In the 1950s, Otto Preminger cast him as an ambulance driver in 1952's Angel Face; actor-turned-director Charles Laughton gave him the chilling role of a religious fanatic in the 1955 cult favorite Night of the Hunter, and John Huston shipwrecked him with a nun (Deborah Kerr) in 1957's Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison.

Mitchum worked steadily in films throughout the 1960s and '70s. Among his best known works are the thriller Cape Fear in 1962 and David Lean's 1970 epic Ryan's Daughter. He played Philip Marlowe in 1975's Farewell, My Lovely and 1978's The Big Sleep, too. Focusing on television in the '80s, Mitchum made appearances in two miniseries, North and South and War and Remembrance. He also played the role of a police lieutenant in the 1991 remake of Cape Fear. How cool is that? When asked for a holiday recipe back in 1970, Mitchum offered up his eggnog for a crowd. “I make no apology for the excessive quantity,” Mitchum told the food writer who'd requested the recipe. "Only a dope would go to the trouble for less." It'll be perfect for any holiday affair you might throw...

Robert Mitchum's Eggnog
  • 12 egg yolks
  • 1 pound confectioners' sugar
  • 1 quart rum, brandy, or whiskey
  • 2 quarts cream1 quart milk
  • 12 egg whites
  • ½ teaspoon salt
Beat egg yolks and confectioners' sugar together in a large bowl. Beat in the rum, brandy or whisky. Add cream and milk. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites with salt until stiff but not dry. Fold this mixture into the liquid. Chill. Serves 20.

Rosemary Clooney, 1928 to 2002
Let's get this out of the way first: Yes, she was the aunt of a certain hunk named George. But the most important thing to know about Rosemary Clooney is not that she had a famous nephew who launched millions of carnal fantasies, but that she had one of the greatest voices of the twentieth century. Singing professionally since her teens, the Kentucky-born singer-actress found fame in the 1950s via a string of novelty hits including "Come On-a My House" and "Mambo Italiano." Audiences adored these funny little songs, but she wasn't nearly as enamored of them. Clooney wanted to be known as the woman who infused standards like "Hey There" with longing, not the gal who sang-a "Botch-a-Me." The woman wasn't even Italian!

Clooney appeared in White Christmas, which would be the pinnacle of her film career, because she knew starring alongside Bing Crosby would lift her career to new levels. (She's quite clear about that in an interview that accompanies the Blu-ray edition of the film.) Help her career it did. Not only did Clooney's star turn as girl-singer Betty Haynes in the 1954 film boost her standing in show business, it established her friendship with Crosby. The two later did a concert tour of Ireland together. And Clooney's appearance on a 1978 TV celebration of Crosby's 50th year in show business is considered instrumental in her comeback.

Sadly, Clooney was coming back from a period that hadn't been kind to her. Diagnosed as bipolar, she had a tumultuous relationship with husband José Ferrer—she married, divorced, and remarried him despite his infidelities. He cheated on her on their honeymoon, as the story goes. Their union produced five children, including the talented actor Miguel Ferrer who first made a splash on Twin Peaks. Clooney was appearing on behalf of Robert F. Kennedy when he was assassinated. She had a nervous breakdown shortly thereafter. In the late 1960s, she became addicted to pills. Then in 1976, her sister Betty, with whom she'd performed a sister act early in her career, died suddenly of a brain aneurysm. Worst of all, perhaps, Clooney was becoming known as the jingle-singing spokeswoman for Coronet paper towels rather than as a fabulous jazz performer. She recounts all this in two autobiographies, This for Remembrance and Girl Singer. Despite all the words, Publisher's Weekly said she “remains an enigma.”

Clooney died of lung cancer at the too-young age of 74. She'd found love, though, with an old friend later in life and she saw the respect of an audience who appreciates the depth of emotion she brought to songs... and who continues to adore (sorry, Rosie, we can't help it) those faux-Italian novelty hits she spiced up so many years ago. Here's a dish from another culture of which Clooney was not a part, Viennese Goulash. You were expecting spaghetti and meatballs? Whatsamattahyou?

Rosemary Clooney's Viennese Goulash
  • 2 teaspoons marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped lemon rind
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ¾ cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 2 pounds onions, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 2 pounds chuck, rump, or round beef, cut into large chunks
  • 1½ cups water
  • Salt, to taste
  • ¼ cup flour, optional
Using a mortar and pestle, or a small grinder, crush together the marjoram, caraway seeds, lemon rind and garlic. In a Dutch oven, melt the butter, add the tomato paste and crushed seasoning and stir to combine. Add the sliced onions and, stirring constantly, sauté until golden. Add the paprika and cook for a minute more, stirring constantly. Add the beef, one cup of water, and salt to taste. Cover and simmer until the beef is tender, about 90 minutes. Add more water during cooking, if needed. Before the goulash is done, add another half cup of water and bring the sauce to a boil. If more sauce is desired, sprinkle the meat with ¼ cup flour and add another cup of water and bring to a boil. Serve the goulash with egg noodles or boiled potatoes. Serves 6.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Dierks Bentley— Somebody Call The Po-Po

Dierks Bentley is climbing up the Billboard Country Singles chart with 5-1-5-0. If you've been singing along with the song and wondering what you're singing about, we've got the answer. Bentley recently revealed to Taste of Country the meaning behind 5-1-5-0, "I had written this song on the beach one day and I said, 'Let's get 5150." Rock fans know it as a Van Halen album and song from 1986, but the "Free and Easy" singer explains that it's also the police code for a criminally insane person. The song is featured on Dierks Bentley's album Home. While it's not a reflection on his own experience with the law, the title of the song is California police code for a person involuntarily confined by officers after being deemed mentally unstable and potentially dangerous. Dierks explains that the whole idea for the song may have been planted in him as early as 13 years old.

"I was at a birthday party and this kid had an electric guitar. Up to that point, music had always been something I listened to. We went back to his room and listened to Van Halen and I dropped everything, and that's all I listened to for a while. They had an album titled 5-1-5-0, which featured them on the cover in straight jackets. I found out that it was the police code for a crazy person. Now come forward to the current time, and in my Country and Cold Cans song I had a line that was; Are y'all with me, let's go 5-1-5-0.' I told Jim Beavers about it and the next day I saw him at the gym. He started singing to me, '5-1-5-0, somebody call the po-po.' I thought that was just about the stupidiest thing I'd ever heard. But he kept after me all the time. Every time I'd see him, he'd sing it to me. He told me his kids loved it and sang it all the time. So one day we were at a writing session. We were stuck and I said, 'OK, let's write 5-1-5-0. So we wrote it and it caught on. It's a fun song to come back with after Home. Home was such a heavy song and had so much depth to it. It's nice to have something out there to help lubricate cold beer going down real easy! It's good to have something out there that is a fun song for the summer. It will keep fans excited and they can crank up their cars when it comes on the radio. It's not gonna change the world, but it is a fun song."

Dierks Bentley has written or co-written many of his hit songs, including What Was I Thinkin', My Last Name, How Am I Doin', Lot of Leavin' Left to Do, Come a Little Closer, Every Mile a Memory and Feel That Fire. His musical influences include George Jones, Hank Williams Jr. and The Del McCoury Band.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Gina Gershon: In Search of Cleo: How I Found My Pussy and Lost My Mind

It's no fun losing your pet, but for Gina Gershon it was a life changer. Roughly 10 years ago, the actress known for such movies as Bound, Face/Off and most recently Killer Joe, came home from the Cannes film festival to find that her assistant ( Cassandra with a star at the end of her name) no longer had her cat Cleo in her care. Apparently, the ex staffer had taken the kitty to a dog groomer, which scared Cleo so much that he ran away. "So many people were like, 'Oh just get another cat.' But oh my God, I just fell apart. I was heartbroken," Gershon says from New York, where she currently lives. "I got to the point where I thought I was going crazy. I was so desperate to have him back. I didn't realize how insane it all was until later."

Her book, In Search of Cleo: How I Found My Pussy and Lost My Mind (Gotham Books, $22.50) chronicles the 2½ month period it took to find the black cat, searching the streets of Los Angeles and meeting with random strangers who claimed to have him (there was a sweet $1,000 reward). Gershon, 50, encountered various impostors. She was initially fooled a few times by copycats, which was devastating. "After you've had your heart broke a couple of times you kind of shut down."

In Search of Cleo is also a metaphor for the men in Gershon's life. The sexy singleton interweaves past boyfriends into the story, like an unnamed designer Gershon hooked up with Hong Kong. She was convinced he was her soul mate and husband in another life until he revealed he was married. "I wasn't sure that [experience] belonged in there," Gershon admits. "But the book is just a trippy journey about looking for love. If you're open anything can happen, I suppose."

In the last chapter, we read that "a large woman with short, cropped hair and pierced body parts" finally found Gershon's dear feline, near the grooming place where he originally ran off. Gershon knew almost immediately: Cleo has a telltale spot on the roof on his mouth and a certain way he eats. Her one true love is still around. "He's a very demanding, spoiled cat," she admits. "He's getting older now, he's all brown and moving a little bit slower. But he still wakes me up in the morning with kisses." Could another book be in the works? Doubtful. "It was important for me to tell my story but I'm not a writer," she stresses. "I love writers, and I wish I were a really good one. My style was just keeping it in my own voice, even if there were run-on sentences. My favorite passages are the ones I wrote and never looked at again."