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And So She Goes, Stumping Book No. 2


Linda Ellerbee has been on the road, wrapping up a Left Coast swing on her 3 1/2-week tour of TV chat shows on behalf of her new book "Move On."

Talking about the book on TV is fitting for Ellerbee, who acquired her reputation as a writer of distinction with such shows as "Weekend" and "Overnight" at NBC and the Emmy-winning "Our World" on ABC.

Her first book "And So It Goes" was about her adventures in the news dodge. The new one is about the changes in her life, and its tone is more intimate and more autobiographical.

"A small part of it was that I began to be terribly uncomfortable with people who said, 'Oh, you're such a role model for me. I want to be like you,' " Ellerbee said. "And I thought, 'They're only seeing what I allow them to see on television. There's much more to me than that and some of it's not so pretty.' "

But the overriding reason, she said, was that she was born into interesting times:

"I was a war baby. I was a child during the duck-and-cover days of the Cold War. I came of age with rock 'n' roll.

"Then it was the '60s and I was living in a commune. And in the '70s, I was a working mother and a single parent. In the '80s, I started my own company and was a woman executive. And in the '90s, I'm a recovering alcoholic.

"It seemed to me that a lot of the stories I wanted to tell, some of which were about me, some of which were about friends and family, were not so much my stories, they were our stories.

"They were stories of this time and of the people who'd lived through it. In that sense, I thought there was a book to be written on surviving life in the last half of the 20th Century."

Ellerbee said it wasn't that tough to go public with the chapter revealing her treatment for alcoholism. Her friends and acquaintances already knew it.

"The one thing that bothered was the cliche-ness of 'Here's-another-celebrity-who-dried-out-at-the-Betty-Ford clinic,' " she said.

"I finally decided that if I'm going to write an honest book about change--changes in my life and lives around me--I have to include that. Otherwise, it's not going to be an honest book.

"I even said in the book, 'God, I used to tell Betty Ford jokes ... and now I am one!' "

Earlier that morning, she said, she learned there is a great difference in writing about her alcoholism and talking about it.

"The relationship between an author and a reader is a very intimate one," she said. "It's very private. Being on a talk show and having someone ask me about it ... it's a WHOLE different thing!"

Ellerbee is not employed by any television network now, but she deals with many of them through her company, Lucky Duck Productions, which most recently signed a deal to produce three half-hour news specials for children for the Nickelodeon cable TV channel.

"I don't think we ought to set out to develop a nation of informed kids," she said. "I hope, if we do it right, we can develop an appetite in kids for real stories about the real world.

"If we could do that, we could have those kids grow up and be a nation of newspaper readers--and watchers of television," she said.

"We're hoping to be part of this PBS effort to try to cover the election in '92 in a different way. We've been having a lot of meetings together and they seem to think we have something to offer."

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