“Bob Odenkirk’s career is inexplicable,” writes Danielle Dresser of Anderson’s Bookshop where Oldenkirk will be signing copies of his new book. “And yet he will try like hell to explicate it for you. Charting a “Homeric” decades-long “odyssey” from his origins in the seedy comedy clubs of Chicago to a dramatic career full of award nominations—with a side-trip into the action-man world that is baffling to all who know him—it’s almost like there are many Bob Odenkirks. But there is just one and one is plenty.
Dresser goes on to say that Bob embraced a life in comedy after a chance meeting with Second City’s legendary Del Close. He somehow made his way to a job as a writer at Saturday Night Live. While surviving that legendary gauntlet by the skin of his gnashing teeth, he stashed away the secrets of comedy writing—eventually employing them in the immortal “Motivational Speaker” sketch for Chris Farley, honing them on The Ben Stiller Show, and perfecting them on Mr. Show with Bob and David.
In Hollywood, Bob demonstrated a bullheadedness that would shame Sisyphus himself, and when all hope was lost for the umpteenth time, the phone rang with an offer to appear on Breaking Bad—a show about how boring it is to be a high school chemistry teacher. His embrace of this strange new world of dramatic acting led him to working with Steven Spielberg, Alexander Payne, and Greta Gerwig, and then, in a twist that will confound you, he re-re-invented himself as a bona fide action star. Why? Read this and do your own psychoanalysis—it’s fun!
Featuring humorous tangents, never-before-seen photos, wild characters, and Bob’s trademark unflinching drive, Comedy Comedy Comedy Dramais a classic showbiz tale told by a determined idiot.
From Comedy to Drama with Bob Odenkirk
Actor, comedian, writer, director, producer and Naperville native, Bob Odenkirk will be at the Yellow Box Theater at the Community Christian Church (1635 Emerson Lane, Naperville, IL) on Thursday, March 3rd at 7pm CT, in conversation with Kim “Howard” Johnson, to discuss his new memoir, Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama. In this “essential” (Entertainment Weekly), “hilarious” (AV Club) memoir, the star of Mr. Show, Breaking Bad, and Better Call Saul opens up about the highs and lows of showbiz, his cult status as a comedy writer, and what it’s like to reinvent himself as an action film ass-kicker at fifty.
An ever escalating review of email, letters, and documents by two young lawyers at the behest of their supervisor, The Appeal tells the story of a small-town fundraising appeal for a little girl’s life-saving cancer treatment and all the machinations that go along with it.
“While the alpha family, leading lights of a community drama group, desperately try to raise funds any way they can, some members throw themselves into the campaign, while others harbor nagging suspicions,” says Janice Hallett, a former magazine editor, award-winning journalist, and government communications writer, and author The Appeal. “When a body is found, 15 suspects come under the spotlight.”
It’s an intriguing way to draw us into the small town theater group and the many assorted people involved.
“We approach the story in hindsight, from the point of view of two law students, set the task by their tutor to read correspondence pertinent to a legal case of appeal – because he believes the wrong person may have been convicted,” says Hallett, who was struggling with trying to get a succession of screenwriting ideas off the ground and decided to instead write her first novel.
“I wrote The Appeal with no expectations that it would ever be published, no deadline and no pressure,” she says. “If I’d thought more about it, I may well have decided against these formats. Ignorance was confidence in this case – it didn’t occur to me it wouldn’t work.”
And worked out it did. Her book has been named The #1 bestselling debut in the UK in 2021, An Apple Books 2021 Bestselling Crime & Thriller (UK) and an Amazon UK Editors’ Picks: Best Books of the Year, 2021.
Before she branched out into writing screenplays and mysteries (Hallett has a new mystery out next year titled The Twyford Code), she spent 15 years writing about bubble bath, mascara, sun cream, cologne, soap, and more.
“ I wrote about every beauty and personal care product on the shelves,” says Hallett. “I edited trade magazines for people who sell beauty products to the public – whether they work in high-end department stores or local drug stores. It’s a dynamic industry that blends science, art, psychology and creativity. I loved it for about 12 twelve years, but by 15 I fancied a change.”
As complex her book is, Hallett says she’s no planner when it comes to writing.
“You won’t find swathes of sticky notes or a dry-wipe board in my study,” she continues. “I set off, let the story evolve, and allow the characters to develop in an organic way. Planning everything beforehand would take all the joy and exploration out of the process for me. Years of screenwriting and playwriting have worked in my favor because you develop a sense of story, pace and timing. If there’s a potential downside, it’s that I never know what the story is about until I reach the end of the first draft. At that point I go back, make the beginning fit the end and put in all the glorious twists and details that make the story so rich and satisfying. I’m a reverse engineer.”
Your dog may have been working hard to convince you that old—or even oldish–dogs can’t learn new tricks, but Sara Carson, who with her Super Collies has appeared on such shows as America’s Got Talentand America’s Got Talent The Champions knows better.
“Anyone can do it,” Carson tells me when we chat on the phone. I’m a little doubtful because despite my degrees in psychology I never could even get a rat to run a maze. But her book, full of step-by-step explanations and detailed techniques is easy to follow. It breaks down into such categories as Super Simple Tricks (leash training, rolling over, and taking a bow) to Super Trick Dog. That’s the chapter where Carson shows how to train your dog to do a walking handstand, jump rope, and skateboard.
“It’s really simple,” says Carson, who tells me that this winter she’s already been able to teach one of her dogs to turn the handle on a jack-in-the box toy until it pops open in three days.
Of course, some dogs take longer at it.
“They’ve to have the drive,” she says. “Some dogs have more drive than others.”
To develop that drive, Carson uses several techniques including Free Shaping where she just sits with a big handful of treats and as the dog approximates the right moves, offers one up.
Carson is a serious dog lover. After getting her first pet when she was 11, she was so determined to add more to her menagerie, that she opened up a pet daycare when she was 14. The first month she had 3 dogs she was training and by the end of the second month she was training 40 in agility, obedience, and puppy tricks.
But not in her home in Toronto where she grew up. Her parents, less dog loving than she, thought one at home was enough. Now she currently has three of her Super Collies (typically Border Collies) and a cat at home with her. At one time she had six.
Border Collies and Border Collie mixes, known for being super smart, are easy to work with and good for showing.
“They have the stamina to learn and perform as they’re bred to guard sheep for hours and hours at a time,” she says.
Hero, one of her dogs, broke the Guinness World Record in 2018 for most dog tricks performed in one minute by completing 49 in just 60 seconds. That was double from the previous record holder.
The idea for the book came during the pandemic when she and the dogs—and cat—weren’t traveling to performances in her RV. She wanted to teach everyone how to have fun with their pet and also train them. Whether you want to have your dog jump rope or bounce with four feet off the floor is up to you. But the trick where they put their toys away certainly works for me.
If You’re not following Lainey Gossip, may I suggest that you do. It’s all about pop culture including books, fashion, movies, celebrities, etc. with lots of fun videos including this one of Tom Cruise thanking people for seeing his latest movie Top Gun: Maverick while free falling from an airplane and talking on his way down. It’s all about getting the shot says Lainey, and he sure does.
Here are a couple of posts from her site–and I mean who wouldn’t love a column titled Smutty Book Round-up?
Here’s short bio from herwebsite
LaineyGossip.com is an entertainment news and gossip blog co-founded by Elaine “Lainey” Lui. The primary voice of LaineyGossip.com, she is also co-host of CTV’s daytime talk show “The Social”, and a reporter on CTV’s “etalk”, Canada’s number one rated entertainment news show.
The site started as an email to small group of friends and colleagues in 2003 and spread by word of mouth to thousands of now loyal readers. It launched as a website in December 2004 and has since grown into an immensely popular entertainment destination visited by over 1.5 million monthly unique readers. Generating over 18 million monthly page views, it is now a leading international celebrity gossip source and a must read for well-read, educated females across North America.
Aside from securing hot tips and exclusive party access on its own, the site has benefited from the access associated with Lainey’s role on CTV’s etalk, which she joined in 2006 as a special correspondent. With etalk Lainey has covered the Red Carpet at the Oscars, SuperBowl XLII, Cannes and Toronto International Film Festivals, and other top tier events worldwide.
In April of 2014 Lainey fulfilled a lifelong dream when her first book Listen to the Squawking Chicken: When a Mother Knows Best, What’s a Daughter to Do? A Memoir (Sort Of) was published (by Random House in Canada and Penguin in the USA).
Bored yet? If not, below is a selection of clippings from a handful of magazines and newspapers over the past few years.
Need more? See the our full bio here (PDF format) or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Buzzfeed, April 2021 Perez Hilton And Lainey Gossip Were Famous For Their Mean Blogs. Now They’re Trying To Change. By Saachi Koul
Every day after I came home from high school, I’d run to my bedroom, turn on my enormous, whirring black Dell desktop, and read Perez Hilton — the up-to-the-minute celebrity gossip blog — for hours. Paparazzi hunting young famous women and bloggers updating their whereabouts by the second created the feeling that every It girl in Los Angeles was publicly spiraling… Link to full article Toronto Star, Jan 2021 TV sensation Lainey Lui’s dogs, Barney and Elvis, may the best-loved beagles in Toronto. You have to meet them By Jillian Vieira
There are dog people, and then there’s Lainey Lui. Along with husband Jacek Szenowicz, she’s pet parent to Barney, 10, and Elvis, 5, a pair of brotherly beagles who The Social co-host, eTalk co-anchor and founder of LaineyGossip.com fully admits are beneficiaries of an ultra-spoiled situation… Link to full article ELLE Canada, May 2020 15 Inspirational Asian Canadians to Know By Patricia Karounos and Hannah Zeigler
All of our best gossip comes from Elaine Lui – or Lainey, as she is better known. The Toronto-born writer launched her eponymous blog, Lainey Gossip, in 2004 while still working at Vancouver’s Covenant House. Two years later, she quit her job to preside over the site full time, and she’s been a regular fixture in our pop-culture routine ever since… Link to full article Chatelaine, Sept 2019 Elaine Lui On Aging: Some Women Want To Embrace Their Wrinkles, But That’s Not Me By Courtney Shea
I’m on TV several times a week for The Social and etalk, and one of the things I’m constantly hearing from audience members or on social media is, “Cut that hair!”—that it’s too long for my age. First of all: If you had my hair, would you cut it?… Link to full article The Cut, Nov 2018 How I Get It Done: Elaine Lui of LaineyGossip Lisa Ryan
You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who understands gossip better than Elaine “Lainey” Lui, the Canadian maven behind LaineyGossip.com. She’s been running the site for more than a decade, and parlayed it into a career as an entertainment journalist…. Link to full article BBC News, Sept 2017 Canadian blogger Lainey Lui on why gossip is political By Jessica Murphy
Elaine “Lainey” Lui is keeping a sharp eye on Colin Farrell. The Irish actor is a few tables over in the lobby of a downtown hotel being interviewed for a film he’s promoting at the Toronto International Film Festival (Tiff). The festival, which runs until 17 September, is a busy time for Lui…. Link to full article The Ringer, October 2016 Lainey Is Yours in Gossip: How a 12-year-old celebrity blog became essential again By Allison P. Davis
Elaine Lui has had her back to me for about 20 minutes, typing away on her Surface tablet. We’re tucked into her broom closet of an office in Toronto’s Bell Media complex, where Lui sits amid an immense but well-organized pile of stuff. A heap of designer shoes is stashed in a cubby; the walls are decorated in the style of collage-obsessed 19-year-old – there’s a Slytherin banner on her front door… Link to full article Slate, July 2016 A Celebrity Gossip Expert Explains the Summer of Taylor Swift By Heather Schwedel
Taylor Swift is having quite the summer – from her breakup with Calvin Harris to the birth of Hiddleswift to Kim Kardashian’s receipts-apalooza, plus or minus a Nils Sjoberg, she’s been consistently dominating headlines. But what does it all mean? LaineyGossip.com is where many of the smart women I follow online turn for informed interpretation of the latest celebrity scandal… Link to full article The Walrus, March 2015 IN DEFENCE OF LOW CULTURE: And praise of love, hate, discovery, jealousy, obsession, betrayal, and mean-girling By Elaine Lui for The Walrus Talks Creativity
Elaine Lui is a Canadian television personality, reporter, blogger, and author. She runs the celebrity-gossip website laineygossip.com, reports for CTV’s etalk, co-hosts CTV’s daily talk series The Social, and wrote the mother-daughter memoir Listen to the Squawking Chicken… Link to see video Toronto Life, November 2014 Toronto’s 50 Most Influential: the people who changed the city in 2014 By Toronto Life
She’s the quirkiest, funniest and most watchable member of The Social, CTV’s answer to The View, and the active ingredient in its success. The show, now in its second season, reaches 2.4 million viewers weekly (up 300,000 from Season One) and has reeled in such high-watt guests as Katy Perry, Jessica Alba, Jane Lynch and Daniel Radcliffe. Her website, LaineyGossip, attracts… Link to full article FLARE May, 2014 Mother Clucker By Maureen Halushak
In her new “sort of” memoir, Lainey Gossip’s ELAINE LUI divulges her most personal scoop yet: the inner workings of her insanely close relationship with her mom, semi-affectionately known as the Squawking Chicken. Over dim sum, MAUREEN HALUSHAK observes the dynamic. Read on for the full experience, plus an exclusive excerpt… Link to full article
“I had the best time working on Nothing Like I Imagined, and I am so excited to continue my relationship with Amazon,” said Kaling, about her last book, a collection of essays in which she reflected upon her new role as single mom, the perks of not having a husband, and her struggle with social anxiety. While dealing with all this, Kaling gets Kanye West’d (or should we now say Ye’d) at her best friend’s birthday, thwarts an “only in LA” crime, and learns what it means to have it all.
Starting later this year, Mindy’s Book Studio will be publishing books across genres, from fresh romantic comedies and poignant coming-of-age stories designed to make readers laugh—and cringe—to gripping dramas with unforgettable female protagonists.
The partnership between Amazon Studios and Kaling will adapt material published under Mindy’s Book Studio as feature motion pictures which will exclusively stream on Prime Video in more than 240 countries and territories worldwide. Kaling holds first-producer option on adaptations. Kaling has also signed her debut novel and new essay collection for publication with Amazon Publishing.
“I’m passionate about bringing unique stories to readers and viewers, and I can’t wait to help discover and support talented new voices through Mindy’s Book Studio,” she says.
From best-selling memoirs to some of television’s most beloved shows and characters, Kaling has entertained readers, viewers, and listeners alike for nearly two decades. Building on her relatable and hilarious take on love and relationships—as seen in her Amazon Charts best-selling essay collection Nothing Like I Imagined (Except for Sometimes) and Amazon Studios’ hit film Late Night (which she co-wrote, produced, and starred in)—Mindy’s Book Studio will expand Kaling’s beloved storytelling sensibilities to a new slate of juicy, unforgettable books that readers can access through subscription programs such as Kindle Unlimited, and in print and audio.
“We are delighted to work with Mindy and Amazon Studios on Amazon’s first-ever book studio,” said Julia Sommerfeld, publisher of Amazon Publishing. “Mindy is brilliant at bringing to life highly entertaining, funny, sharp, and bingeable stories, and we can’t wait to collaborate with her on discovering and championing must-read stories from new and diverse voices.”
“With her visionary voice, trademark wit, and tremendous artistic acumen, Mindy Kaling remains a relentless innovator in the creative community,” said Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios. “She is a pioneering artist, remarkable role model, and philanthropist who continues to tap into global and cultural zeitgeists as a source for her refreshingly authentic storytelling. We could not be more thrilled to expand our collaboration with her across Amazon to not only showcase her incredible talents but also introduce new, dynamic storytellers to our global customers.”
Kaling is represented by 3 Arts Entertainment, CAA, The Lede Company, and PJ Shapiro. Sommerfeld, Lauren O’Connor, head of IP & literary acquisitions at Amazon Studios, and Carmen Johnson, editorial director of Mindy’s Book Studio, will work with Kaling to find unputdownable stories with the potential to come to life on the screen.
In 2023, Amazon Publishing will also publish Kaling’s debut novel, a comedic and twisty page-turner under Mindy’s Book Studio. In 2024, Amazon Publishing will publish a new collection of personal essays in print, digital, and audio, offering Kaling’s latest reflections on life, motherhood, friendship, and being a boss. Amazon Studios has acquired first-look rights for Kaling’s forthcoming novel and essay collection.
In her fun very readable Windy City Blues (Berkley 2017; $16), Chicago author Renee Rosen again takes another slice of the city’s history and turns it into a compelling read.
Rosen, who plumbs Chicago’s history to write such books as Dollface, her novel about flappers and gangers like Al Capone, and What the Lady Wants which recounts the affair between department store magnate Marshall Field and his socialite neighbor, says she and her publisher were racking their brains for her next book which encompassed Chicago history.
“She suggested the blues,” says Rosen, who didn’t have much interest in the subject.
But Rosen was game and started her typical uber-intensive research.
“When I discovered the Chess brothers, who founded Chess Records, I fell in love,” she says, noting that when researching she was surprised about how much she didn’t know about the subject despite her immersion in Chicago history for her previous books. “I thought this is a story.”
“As part of my research, I drove the Blues Highway from New Orleans to Chicago,” she says. “I also met with Willie Dixon’s grandson and with Chess family members.”
Combining fact and fiction, Rosen’s story follows heroine Leeba Groski, who struggling to fit in, has always found consolation in music. When her neighbor Leonard Chess offers her a job at his new Chicago Blues label, she sees this as an opportunity to finally fit in. Leeba starts by answering phones and filing but it soon becomes much more than that as she discovers her own talents as a song writer and also begins not only to fall in love with the music industry but also with Red Dupree, a black blues guitarist.
Windy City Blues was recently selected for Chicago’s One Book project, a program designed to engage diverse groups of Chicagoans around common themes. Rosen says she is very honored to be a recipient.
“I put my heart and soul into this book,” she says. “I think it’s a story with an important message. In it are lessons of the Civil Rights movement, what it was like for Jews and people of color along with the history of the blues and the role of Jews in bringing the blues to the world. After all, as the saying goes: Blacks + Jews = Blues.”