Book Review: Celeb interviews best in small sips
• “Anyone Who’s Anyone: The Astonishing Celebrity Interviews, 1987-2017”
(Harper), by George Wayne
Plucked from the pages of Vanity Fair, the Daily Front Row and R.O.M.E. and thrust into the public’s hands comes George (“GW”) Wayne’s collection of his favorite celebrity interviews conducted over three decades. An apt forward by Vanity Fair Editor-in-Chief Graydon Carter sets the stage for GW’s grandiosity, followed by the author’s own introduction in which he reveals his path from Jamaican schoolboy to self-described “carnivore of popular culture.”
In GW’s snappy Q&As, he asks much less about the stars’ work and instead charges into the hidden corners of their lives. In a bewildering way, his calculated ploys, cloaked sometimes in flattery and other times in outright mockery (“Do you think Hollywood thinks you’re a has-been?”), provoke the famous to vulnerability. Before they realize it, they’re ticking off the contents of medicine cabinets and casually dishing on ex-husbands, girlfriends and roommates.
Joan Rivers, Fabio, Ivana Trump, and Kathleen Turner , among others, grace the pages (some more grudgingly than others). The interviews serve as snapshots of the times, and reading them five or 25 years later proves amusing. We remember the film or book or play one embarked upon, now knowing if that was the project that shot the star to fame or served as a career’s final flicker.
So tightly condensed are GW’s lavish cajoleries and prodding condescension that the read can feel a bit like drinking chardonnay from a fire hose. One Hollywood plastic surgery anecdote slipped among the glamorous pages of Vanity Fair proves deliciously interesting, but placed between dozens of other similarly flavored conversations, the result seems crowded. To better savor GW’s ill-mannered, quick-witted tongue, keep this one around to sip one sitting at a time.