Name-dropping through life
by Roberto Friedman
Pigeon in a Crosswalk author Jack Gray (Simon & Schuster) admits, "It would not be unprecedented for me to throw the name of one Anderson Cooper around." But that's acceptable because Gray is an Emmy-winning producer for CNN's Anderson Cooper 360, he knows and loves the Coop, and his book about career and personal highlights is one hilarious gay romp through celebrity encounters both show-biz and news-biz.
The roll call of the famous begins with Joan Kennedy cracking wise about her in-laws and CNN anchor John Roberts doing whip-its at work, but quickly goes Hollywood ("Ricky Gervais stopped by our table, because that's what happens when I agree to go somewhere other than Olive Garden") and NYC (Gray's dog Sammy "once tried to sniff Calvin Klein as he walked by"). Along the way he has Twitter feuds with Star Jones ("If you're ever tempted to make a Twitter joke about Star Jones, I'd suggest you reconsider and find a more relaxed subject, like the Taliban") and finds solidarity with other urban survivors (the squab of the title).
Gray was an on-site producer for CNN's New Year's Eve Live with Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin for the now-famous incident when, inadvertently live on air, Griffin shouted to some loud hecklers in Time Square, "Shut up! You know what, screw you, I'm working. I don't go to your job and knock the dicks out of your mouth!"
"No one remembers anything else from that night," writes Gray. "No one recalls that the show that year also featured a performance from a musician who, at that point, was still unknown to many people. I wonder whatever happened to that Lady Gaga."
He also has a good perspective on broadcasting inanities. "What bothers me is how news organizations pander to people using social media. It's one thing to say, 'Hey, here's our Twitter address, follow us for breaking news alerts.' It's quite another to solicit tweets and Facebook comments from random people and then read them on-air as if they're crucial. You might as well just say, 'Our show sucks but stay tuned because we might say your name on TV.'" And remember to "like" us on Facebook.
Out There is an insatiable reader, and let's face it, 211 pages of light essays, however sassy, is not going to fill us. So we also recently plowed through Agent 6 by Tom Rob Smith (Grand Central) (espionage from Cold War Russia to Soviet-occupied Afghanistan), The Adderall Diaries by Stephen Elliott (Graywolf) (his girlfriends beat him up), and Coral Glynn by Peter Cameron (FSG) (heartbreak and sorrow: good times!).
Listening to and loving: Patricia Barber , Smash (Concord) ("Discombobulation and I can cook up a storm/ I'm Michelangelo 's David, tested and worn"), Ludovico Einaudi, In a Time Lapse (Ponderosa), Miles Davis , Sketches of Spain (Columbia, 1960), and David Bowie, The Next Day (Columbia) ("Here I am, not quite dying,/ My body left to rot in a hollow tree,/ Its branches throwing shadows on the gallows for me."). Now that's an upbeat playlist!
Finally, we know a TV star, too. Former B.A.R. arts writer Robert Julian is starring in a new 13-episode reality-TV series on Canadian television that was filmed entirely on location in Palm Springs, where he lives. The show is called Golden Gays, and it debuts this Friday at 10 p.m. on Canada's Slice cable network. Slice is sort of Canada's answer to Bravo, as they run all Bravo's Housewives series. This is the first reality-TV show dealing with the lives of lesbian and gay seniors, and wouldn't you know it, Julian is sort of the show's Carrie Bradshaw. The plan is to syndicate Golden Gays internationally after its Canadian debut. For a look at three promo reels for Golden Gays that parody classic TV sitcoms, go to www.youtube.com/user/GoldenGaysOnSlice?feature=mhee.