Sometime in the 1990s, I was brought over to meet Shelley Winters at a publicity party.
She was the onetime bombshell who’d method-acted her way into two Oscars as she turned into a first-rate character actress adept at blowsy supporting roles.
I was introduced, naturally, as being from The Village Voice.
With that, Shelley started going for her third Oscar.
“The Village Voice?” she whinnied. “Someone from that paper trashed my last book!”
“Well,” I interjected, getting nervous, “I’m so sorry about that, Ms. Winters, but don’t hold me responsible for every word in the paper. I’m a fan!”
“They wrote something bad about it,” she went on. “It wasn’t a very nice review. It was in the literary supplement or something — not in the actual paper.”
“Oh, the literary supplement?” I stammered. “Well, yes, they run a lot of reviews there and some of them aren’t nice. But I write the gossip page in the front of the book. You know, the actual paper! That’s a whole different section!”
“It wasn’t a very favorable review,” Shelley repeated, clearly obsessed. “I felt it was a little sarcastic. I thought, ‘What does The Village Voice have against me?'”
“I’m so sorry, Ms. Winters,” I reiterated. “The literary supplement can be so bitchy. I didn’t even read that review! I missed that whole section! By the way, I loved you in Poseidon Adventure.”
And with that, she calmed down and we set about our little interview.
I was so glad I had garnered Shelley’s trust — and even gladder she never caught on that I’d written that review!