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The History Of Celebrity In America--in Nine Days

March 15, 1987|BRUCE FEIRSTEIN | The chronicler has some celebrity of his own as author of the books "Real Men Don't Eat Quiche" and "Nice Guys Sleep Alone." The latter has been optioned to Taft-Barish for development as a feature film. and

On Sunday, March xx, 1987, young investment banker Dexter Williams III went drinking at Catch a Rising Star, the famed comedy club in New York City.

Shortly before 11 o'clock, after having suffered through the monologues of a half-dozen amateur comedians, Dexter's friends began taunting him to go on stage and tell a few jokes.

Drunk, tired and frustrated that he hasn't been able to woo a blond manicurist from Queens sitting at the bar, Dexter refused at first . . . .

But then he took the stage.

And the rest, as they say, is show - biz history.


11:09 p.m.: Dexter is introduced by Richard Belzer.

11:10 p.m.: Appearing before an audience of nine, Dexter tells six jokes, focusing on his home state of New Jersey ("I grew up near the Jimmy Hoffa Memorial Off-Ramp,") and investment banking. ("Instead of junk bonds, Drexel Burnham is now selling bail bonds.")

11:14 p.m.: The audience goes wild as Dexter trips on the microphone cord as he leaves the stage. Sitting in the darkness are three William Morris agents and an HBO vice president for comedy development.

11:17 p.m.: Unwinding backstage, Dexter meets Rocco Lampone Jr., a talent manager who immediately signs him to a five-year personal services contract. "Don't worry," Rocco assures him, "I'm the guy who created London Lee."

11:18 p.m.: Rocco enters negotiations for Dexter's HBO comedy special.

11:21 p.m.: A drink arrives backstage from the blonde.

11:22 p.m.: The three William Morris agents arrive backstage but are told they're too late.

11:24 p.m.: The blonde arrives backstage and is told she's not too late.

11:37 p.m.: Hailing a cab, the two of them cross the 59th Street Bridge, heading for Queens.

DAY 2: MONDAY, March XX 9:36 a.m.: Rocco arrives at his office and calls Page Six of the New York Post to plant an item about Dexter's discovery. "Who's Dexter?!" asks the skeptical reporter, George Rush. "Haven't you heard?" Rocco replies, "He's got an HBO special." Rush rushes off to tell the Post's readers.

9:44 a.m.: "Dexter who ?" queries columnist Cindy Adams. Rocco: "Don't you read the New York Post?" A blurb appears immediately in Adams' 178 newspapers.

10:02 a.m.: "He's in the Post, he's got an HBO special, and he's in Cindy Adams' 550 newspapers," Rocco informs Pam Lansden of People magazine. Typing as she speaks, the 23 million readers of her Take One column learn about "Comedy you can bank on: Dexter Williams III, the perfect comedian for the big-money Reagan Era."

10:35 a.m.: After seeing the pieces in the Post, People, and Cindy Adams' column on the wire services, Rolling Stone editor Jann Wenner has Dexter written up for his Random Notes section.

10:57 a.m.: Negotiations are completed with HBO. Rocco doubles Dexter's fee because of all the press coverage.

11:19 a.m.: "You're a star," Rocco tells Dexter on the phone. "Yeah, but who are you ?" Dexter replies. "Meet me for lunch at the RTR," says Rocco. "What's the RTR?" "You'll learn," Rocco says with a sigh. "You'll learn."

1:05 p.m.: The Russian Tea Room: Rocco has purchased the third banquette on the left wall from maitre d' Ona Desousa. Walking in, Dexter is acknowledged by actor Roy Scheider, ICM agent Sam Cohn, writer/director Robert Benton, Broadway producer Fred Zolo and Charlie Joffe, founder of the Rollins/Joffe/Morra agency. In the middle of lunch, Dexter is introduced to Mike Nichols, who says "I've read all about you."

2:47 p.m.: Rocco calls Sam Cohn and arranges for Mike Nichols to direct the HBO special.

3:05 p.m.: Lorne Michaels agrees to produce the special and the forthcoming home video "The Best of Dexter."

3:07 p.m.: After hearing about Dexter at lunch at the Four Seasons, New York editor Ed Kosner assigns Jesse Kornbluth to cover Dexter for the magazine's Fast Track pages.

3:09 p.m.: After hearing about Dexter at lunch at Mortimer's, Vanity Fair editor Tina Brown assigns Angela Janklow to profile Dexter in the Vanities section.

3:14 p.m.: After a late lunch at the Casual Quilted Giraffe with Bianca Jagger, Ivanna Trump, Mica Ertegun and Gayfryd Steinberg and Donna Karan, Interview editor Gael Love assigns Tama Janowitz to have lunch with the comedian. Photograph by Helmut Newton; jacket by Charavari Workshop; fragrance by Georgio of Beverly Hills.

11:26 p.m.: "Nightlife With David Brenner": Appearing at the end of the show as the third guest, David introduces Dexter as "one of the great undiscovered comedians in the East." Dexter tells the same jokes he delivered the night before. As Brenner closes the show, Dexter sits next to a soap opera star named Heather. She's promoting a Judith Krantz miniseries, "I'll Take the 5th: The Ollie North Story," co-starring Jane Seymour as Fawn Hall, Craig T. Nelson as Ollie and featuring William Devane as Jack, Bobby, Ted and Joseph P. Kennedy. Directed by Donald Wrye.

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