"In Their Own Words: Celebrity Autobiographies" is a literary event Hollywood-style, drawing a crowd to Book Soup Bistro for a once-a-month take on celebrity that is far more hilarious than Woody Allen's most recent effort.
The premise for the show is simple: Actors, writers and comedians share the stories of celebrities, reading passages from such classics as "My Life: Virginia Kelly" and "Zsa Zsa Gabor: One Lifetime Is Not Enough."
"There has never been a time when we have been so fascinated by other peoples' lives," the show's producer-creator Eugene Pack explains. "On VH1 there's 'Behind the Music,' E! Entertainment Television has 'Celebrity Profiles' and A&E has 'Biography.' "
But what are even more entertaining than made-for-television celebrity profiles, he says, are the accounts written by the celebrities themselves.
It's the everyday anecdotes peppering the autobiographies that prompted the most laughs at a recent "In Their Own Words" event: Joan Lunden oiling door hinges to keep from waking her family when she had to rise at 4 a.m. for "Good Morning America"; Zsa Zsa Gabor lamenting the loss of her diamond earrings while she was incarcerated for slapping a police officer; and, better still, Neil Sedaka sharing with readers what he eats for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and what he regularly orders at Italian, Chinese, Japanese and French restaurants.
For the Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday December 8, 1998 Home Edition Southern California Living Part E Page 3 View Desk 1 inches; 25 words Type of Material: Correction
Celebrity autobiographies--A story in Sunday's Southern California Living misidentified Dale Rehfeld, co-producer of "In Their Own Words: Celebrity Autobiographies."
"[These people] think their lives are so important that we care about minute details, like every restaurant Neil Sedaka ate in," Pack says. "You find yourself laughing at yourself laughing."
A New York transplant, he gained an appreciation for the celebrity autobiography genre, if you can call it that, soon after landing in Hollywood to pursue an acting career. "I had a job on a film where I was in my car a lot, and I started listening to these books on tape. I was astounded and entertained at the same time. I just had to put them in front of an audience."
"In Their Own Words" was first presented two years ago at Creativity in Santa Monica and has since moved to Book Soup Bistro in West Hollywood. Actress, director and teacher Dale Rehfield co-produces and hosts the show.
Now it seems Pack is on the road to celebrity. He will be acting in the film version of his screenplay, "Yudi," which begins shooting next year. Can an autobiography be far behind?
"I already know how to do it. The prologue has to be in italics and contain the most dramatic event. Then, the book has to start with the words 'I was born in . . .' "
Pack insists he wouldn't mind his book becoming fodder for an "In Their Own Words" event.
"The show is not about being negative or mocking anyone. We don't read the passages in a tone that's making fun. You don't have to."
The next "Celebrity Autobiographies" is 9 p.m. Dec. 12; $5. (310) 226-6971.