When Show Biz Books Rewrite History…


Ben Brantley‘s 2009 New York Times review of Catherine Zeta-Jones in A Little Night Music was decidedly mixed.

He called her performance “a lively debut” and said:

“In addition to being drop-dead gorgeous, Ms. Zeta-Jones brings a decent voice, a supple dancer’s body, and a vulpine self possession to her first appearance on Broadway….Her Desiree, to be honest, is much like her Velma: earthy, eager, and a tad vulgar, though without the homicidal rage and jealousy. (Imagine Velma after a regimen of antidepressants.)

“Such traits lend a not always appropriate edge of desperation to the droll Desiree, who has tired of touring and longs to be reunited with her former (now married) lover, Fredrik Egerman.

“Ms. Zeta-Jones delivers her big ballad, ‘Send in the Clowns’, with an all-out emotionalism that I suppose makes sense but doesn’t jibe with the character’s amused urbanity. And swapping arch banter, sung or spoken, doesn’t come naturally to Ms. Zeta-Jones.”

Not exactly ecstatic, right? “So-so” might be a nice way to put it. There are some positives, but calling that a complete rave would be like saying the last jobs report was promising.

So how does an upcoming biography of Michael Douglas characterize this review?

It reports that Brantley “wrote what amounted to a love letter to Catherine.”

Huh? If that’s love, then I’ll stay single, thank you. Aren’t you sick of show biz books that rewrite history to make things the way they imagine them to be?

Fortunately, that’s just in the galley and there’s time to change it–along with other mistakes in the book.

And I hope they do because otherwise, it’s a very good read.

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