Now playing on the Otherppl with Brad Listi podcast, a conversation with Jonathan Herman , Oscar-nominated screenwriter of the film Straight Outta Compton.

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MM&JMTMichael McGriff: Though we never explicitly discussed Richard Brautigan during the writing of Our Secret Life in the Movies, he was and continues to be a huge inspiration for both of us. Looking back at our book, I see Brautigan’s fingerprints everywhere–from structure to style to ranges in tone. You’ve mentioned before that you read Brautigan early. Was there a particular book of his that grabbed hold of you?

“Just get to it,” Nora Ephron might say.

Obituaries and year-end tributes will illuminate Ephron’s groundbreaking career as a writer and film director. They will toast her wit that shined and carved like a scalpel. The irreverent will quote her infamous line about her second husband Carl Bernstein:  “The man was capable of having sex with a Venetian blind.” Her peers and loved ones will share tales of her oft-noted generous spirit and culinary panache.

Unless you’re on a serious media diet, it can be difficult to miss the roar of publicity praise machines churning out promotions and profiles during awards season. We’re currently surviving a stage-one George Clooney avalanche and, while somewhat understandable (it’s just show biz, after all), I confess that I find the gooey adulation of Clooney a bit much to bear.

Please explain what just happened.

It just leapt through the roof. I swear it did. It was frozen in a block of ice for thousands of years, supposedly dead…then one drill into the block to get a tissue sample and…boom! The thing sprang back to life and escaped. What are we going to do now?


What is your earliest memory?

5:20am. We have a toddler with sleep issues.

“Easy, baby, you’re almost a fire hazard.”

With apologies to Jean-Paul Sartre, if Tura Satana didn’t exist someone would have to invent her. Standing 5’7”, you could easily be forgiven for imagining her towering at 6’10”. She passed away on February 4, 2010 in Reno, Nevada. The world continues without her, albeit in a severely impoverished state. Tura’s life sounds like something out of a nightmarish fairy tale designed to tell exotically beautiful young women that they can grow up to be legends.

I have to admit, I was not really a Joan fan. In fact, her “can we talk” shrillness used to make my shoulders tense when I would hear it. And don’t get me wrong, I’m all for brash, uncouth, in-your-face behavior. As a former New Yorker, even her accent didn’t get under my skin. I think it was a quiet desperation that I intoned, something underneath her poking fun at celebrities, bristling at housewives, and most of all, her self-deferential slant that gave me pause. I just really never tuned into her Late Show debacle, or her Joan Rivers Show on television, though it ran for five years. And then, just when I might have given her more credit, she started the heinous mother-daughter alliance for which she has become known since the 1990s: the red carpet pre-award hosts for cable channels like E! Entertainment and TV Guide Channel (yes, imagine that, even they have a channel!). There has also been several guest spots on TV shows I don’t watch, like Nip/Tuck, QVC Shopping Network, and Celebrity Apprentice in which her daughter, Melissa, appeared in the same season and lost. Joan went on to win. During all this time, Joan has had some, shall we say, adjustments, in the surgical arena. Whether you endorse this practice or not, it’s difficult not to judge someone that you only know through a TV image or in a magazine, and they appear so completely altered. Like a puppet, a shard of one’s former self.