The Boys: A Memoir of Hollywood and Family by Ron Howard and Clint Howard – #Audiobook Review – Biographies of Celebrities & Entertainment Professionals

The Boys by Ron Howard and Clint Howard

The Boys by Ron Howard and Clint Howard

 

(Amazon) Editors PickBest Biographies & Memoirs (Audiobook)

#1 Best Seller in Biographies of Movie Directors (Kindle)

Book Blurb:

“What was it like to grow up on TV?” Ron Howard has been asked this question throughout his adult life. in The Boys, he and his younger brother, Clint, examine their childhoods in detail for the first time. For Ron, playing Opie on The Andy Griffith Show and Richie Cunningham on Happy Days offered fame, joy, and opportunity – but also invited stress and bullying. For Clint, a fast start on such programs as Gentle Ben and Star Trek petered out in adolescence, with some tough consequences and lessons.

With the perspective of time and success – Ron as a filmmaker, producer, and Hollywood A-lister, Clint as a busy character actor – the Howard brothers delve deep into an upbringing that seemed normal to them yet was anything but. Their Midwestern parents, Rance and Jean, moved to California to pursue their own showbiz dreams. But it was their young sons who found steady employment as actors. Rance put aside his ego and ambition to become Ron and Clint’s teacher, sage, and moral compass. Jean became their loving protector – sometimes over-protector – from the snares and traps of Hollywood.

By turns confessional, nostalgic, heartwarming, and harrowing, The Boys is a dual narrative that lifts the lid on the Howard brothers’ closely held lives. It’s the journey of a tight four-person family unit that held fast in an unforgiving business and of two brothers who survived “child-actor syndrome” to become fulfilled adults.

Happy DaysThe Andy Griffith ShowGentle Ben – these shows captivated millions of TV viewers in the ’60s and ’70s. Join award-winning filmmaker Ron Howard and audience-favorite actor Clint Howard as they frankly and fondly share their unusual family story of navigating and surviving life as sibling child actors.

My Review:

Who doesn’t love Opie (if you are old enough to remember him) or Richie Cunningham (still not old enough?)? How about the movies Night Shift, Splash, Apollo 13, or The Da Vinci Code? There are literally so many awards and nominations, they have to be broken down into tables for acting, directing, writing,  Academy Awards, BAFTA Awards, and Golden Globe Awards. A tremendous life achievement.

So when I saw The Boys in audiobook format, I had to give it a listen. Gees, what a charmed life! I gotta say, he was one extremely lucky kid. Not to say he hasn’t worked hard for it. He has—from the time he was a small boy. I must say also that it is a powerful story of his parents and I was awestruck repeatedly at the wisdom, sacrifice, and love his parents showered on their two boys.

The Boys by Ron Howard and Clint HowardYes, two boys, and I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t know Clint Howard as a name or as Ron’s brother, but as a character actor. I do recognize his face though again, he’s not been leading man material.

As you might expect, Ron Howard delivers his memories with an easy, relaxed, and sincere tone. The stories for the most part were uplifting, revealing, and confirmation of the “what you see is what you get” person. It’s personal. Interesting in that even with the obvious spread in ages between the brothers, there were times when they remembered the situation differently. Their points of view shaded by their own memories and experience.

Clint’s memories and experiences as he grew older took a darker path, not that his moral compass tilted so much as his temperament was 180 degrees from that of his big brother—and his delivery reflects some of the lack of power he wielded under the shadow of Ron.

Not always in chronological order, the narration caught backstories as a way of leading into the next event that took their lives through the process of becoming major name-worthy persons. They both did some mighty sacrificing for a normal childhood and still managed to reap the kind of knowledge you don’t get in a book.

Clint lacked the focus, the drive to go behind the scenes that Ron had and as an actor sweated in each and every role.

Not delivered with the dynamics and sense of humor that Matthew McConaughey threw into his memoir, (McConaughey is an in-your-face actor), the brothers nonetheless combined their memories in a loving memorial for their dad (more so than their mother), who in his turn sacrificed his own acting career for that of his boys whom he carefully nurtured, guided, and protected in their road to the pinnacle of Hollywood. You couldn’t hope for a more powerful legacy.

I downloaded this audiobook from my lovely library and thoroughly enjoyed the journey of child actors that have endured through sixty-plus years of growth in the entertainment industry.

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five Stars 4 1/2 stars

Book Details:

Genre: Rich & Famous Biographies, Biographies of Celebrities & Entertainment Professionals
Publisher: HarperAudio
ASIN: B092BB6JSF
Listening Length: 13 hrs 18 mins
Narrator: Ron HowardClint HowardBryce Dallas Howard
Publication Date: October 12, 2021
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Boys [Amazon]

Add to Goodreads

The Authors:

(No listed bios on either Amazon or Goodreads author pages.)

Ron Howard on the set of Apollo 13

 

Ron and Clint Howard

Ron Howard (L) (1954-), born in Duncan, OK. Director, producer, screenwriter, actor. Married to Cheryl since 1975. First known as Opie from the Andy Griffith Show from 1960 through 1968. He also starred in American Graffiti and then Richie Cunningham in Happy Days. His heart, however, was in directing and he has an impressive list of credits. He has four children. For more information, see Wikipedia.

Clint Howard - actor-narratorClint Howard – (1959-), born in Burbank, CA. American actor, writer, and producer. Character actor best remembered for his role in Gentle Ben and later in Star Trek. Married to Kat. For additional information on Clint Howard, see his biography.

 

 

 

 

©2022 V Williams V Williams

happy thursday!

Going There by Katie Couric – #Audiobook Review – Biographies of Journalists

Audiobook-Going There by Katie Couric

#1 New Release – Audiobook: Journalist Biographies

(Amazon) Editors Pick – Best Biographies & Memoirs

Book Blurb:

Heartbreaking, hilarious, and brutally honest, Going There is the deeply personal life story of a girl next door turned household name.

For more than forty years, Katie Couric has been an iconic presence in the media world. In her brutally honest, hilarious, heartbreaking memoir, she reveals what was going on behind the scenes of her sometimes tumultuous personal and professional life – a story she’s never shared, until now. Of the medium she loves, the one that made her a household name, she says, “Television can put you in a box; the flat-screen can flatten. On TV, you are larger than life but smaller, too. It is not the whole story, and it is not the whole me. This book is.”

Beginning in early childhood, Couric was inspired by her journalist father to pursue the career he loved but couldn’t afford to stay in. Balancing her vivacious, outgoing personality with her desire to be taken seriously, she overcame every obstacle in her way: insecurity, an eating disorder, being typecast, sexism . . . challenges, and how she dealt with them, setting the tone for the rest of her career. Couric talks candidly about adjusting to sudden fame after her astonishing rise to co-anchor of the TODAY show, and guides us through the most momentous events and news stories of the era, to which she had a front-row seat:  Rodney King, Anita Hill, Columbine, the death of Princess Diana, 9/11, the Iraq War . . . In every instance, she relentlessly pursued the facts, ruffling more than a few feathers along the way.  She also recalls in vivid and sometimes lurid detail the intense pressure on female anchors to snag the latest “get”—often sensational tabloid stories like Jon Benet Ramsey, Tonya Harding, and OJ Simpson.

Couric’s position as one of the leading lights of her profession was  shadowed by the shock and trauma of losing her husband to stage 4 colon cancer when he was just 42, leaving her a widow and single mom to two daughters, 6 and 2. The death of her sister Emily, just three years later, brought yet more trauma—and an unwavering commitment to cancer awareness and research, one of her proudest accomplishments.

Couric is unsparing in the details of her historic move to the anchor chair at the CBS Evening News—a world rife with sexism and misogyny.  Her “welcome” was even more hostile at 60 Minutes, an unrepentant boys club that engaged in outright hazing of even the most established women.  In the wake of the MeToo movement, Couric shares her clear-eyed reckoning with gender inequality and predatory behavior in the workplace, and downfall of Matt Lauer—a colleague she had trusted and respected for more than a decade.

Couric also talks about the challenge of finding love again, with all the hilarity, false-starts, and drama that search entailed, before finding her midlife Mr. Right.  Something she has never discussed publicly—why her second marriage almost didn’t happen.

If you thought you knew Katie Couric, think again. Going There is the fast-paced, emotional, riveting story of a thoroughly modern woman, whose journey took her from humble origins to superstardom. In these pages, you will find a friend, a confidante, a role model, a survivor whose lessons about life will enrich your own.

My Review:

Are you a big fan of Katie Couric? I must admit I’d probably not watched her more than twice. Pretty, perky Katie pretty much delivers the entire book in her blurb—true to form–and there’s not much more I can say. You can see why the print book weighs in at a hefty 529 pages. (Sometimes, when I feel that the bio is WAYYY too long to include, I provide an excerpt. In this case, the blurb being WAYYY too long is a heads up into the kind of narration you’ll receive in the audiobook.) Narcissistic. Over the top, you say? Boy howdy!

Katie, the baby of the upper middle-class family, loved the spotlight from the beginning and often found ways to achieve it. Girl next door she’s not, unless you come from a family with accomplished, educated, parents of means, (a devoted father).

Going There by Katie CouricWhat you see is her perception: “ It is not the whole story, and it is not the whole me. This book is.” Nah, I don’t think so. I don’t believe the reader gets the unvarnished truth (maybe we can’t handle it). But’s it’s the truth as she wants you to believe. Her second best vocation—journalist. I do believe she comes off first as an entertainer, wantonly seeking veneration.

There is a public and private persona…which often blends into the same—a journalist decrying the coming “me, too” while quietly discussing and dismissing her own behaviors. Moaning over the loyalty factor while showing none to co-workers. I was rather surprised (and appalled) over the handling of the nanny—good grief—how many times did the nanny more than adequately cover her entitled butt? The brutal cancer that took her Jeff, crying she should have noticed, while running off constantly and consistently being absent during crises for the next big story or opportunity. Career first. So many contradictions! And then launching into charity work for the cancer causes. Must keep the face in the press!

Downright mean to many of her female co-workers and competitors, climbing the ladder on the backs of those who were paving her way.

Name dropping ad nauseum. Of course, she had a long, storied career and there were few celebrities she didn’t meet, try to interview, or gain notoriety from. So many unflattering stories about others, then how often she’d turn around and do the same—but that was different—she could explain it away to her satisfaction.

If I was prepared to change my mind after listening to her audiobook (she narrates, of course), I didn’t. It comes off exactly as my first impression of her–and that didn’t change.

Somewhere in the audiobook she coins the phrase, Truth decay.” Yup. I agree.

Book Details:

Genre: Biographies of Journalists, Journalist Biographies, Biographies & Memoirs of Women
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
ASIN: B094RGFVWX  
Listening Length: 15 hrs 27 mins
Narrator: Katie Couric
Publication Date: October 26, 2021
Print Length: 529 pages
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Going There [Amazon]

Barnes and Noble  |  Kobo

Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing:  Two point Five Stars Two and one-half Stars

Katie Couric - authorThe Author: Katherine Anne “Katie” Couric is notable as an American journalist who became well-known as co-host of NBC’s Today. In 2006, she made a highly publicized move from NBC to CBS, and on September 5, 2006 she became the first solo female anchor of the weekday evening news on one of the three traditional U.S. broadcast networks. She currently serves as the anchor and managing editor of the CBS Evening News, having replaced Bob Schieffer on September 5, 2006. Schieffer served as the interim anchor following the departure of long time anchor and managing editor Dan Rather on March 9, 2005. [Goodreads]

[NB: Couric left the CBS Evening News in 2011 after five years.]

©2022 V Williams V Williams

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher – #Audiobook Review – #TBT

(Amazon) Editors Pick Best Biographies & Memoirs 

Book Blurb:

2018 GRAMMY Award for Best Spoken Word Album

The Princess Diarist is Carrie Fisher’s intimate, hilarious and revealing recollection of what happened behind the scenes on one of the most famous film sets of all time, the first Star Wars movie.

PEOPLE magazine Best Book of Fall 2016

New York Times Best-seller 

Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi, featuring Carrie Fisher, is scheduled for release on December 15, 2017. Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds debuted on HBO in January 2017.

When Carrie Fisher recently discovered the journals she kept during the filming of the first Star Wars movie, she was astonished to see what they had preserved – plaintive love poems, unbridled musings with youthful naiveté, and a vulnerability that she barely recognized. Today, her fame as an author, actress, and pop-culture icon is indisputable, but in 1977, Carrie Fisher was just a teenager with an all-consuming crush on her costar, Harrison Ford. 

With these excerpts from her handwritten notebooks, The Princess Diarist is Fisher’s intimate and revealing recollection of what happened on one of the most famous film sets of all time – and what developed behind the scenes. Fisher also ponders the joys and insanity of celebrity, and the absurdity of a life spawned by Hollywood royalty, only to be surpassed by her own outer-space royalty. Laugh-out-loud hilarious and endlessly quotable, The Princess Diarist brims with the candor and introspection of a diary while offering shrewd insight into the type of stardom that few will ever experience. 

My Review:

If ever a book is best read by the author, this one is it. I must admit that I wasn’t an overly enthusiastic fan of Ms. Fisher, feeling she rode her parents’ coat tails (Debbie Reynolds and [gasp] Eddie Fisher) to stardom.

Carrie, born October 21, 1956, discovered an old diary she’d kept during the filming of the first Star Wars movie. She was struck by co-star Harrison Ford. Carrie at the time being nineteen years of age admitted all those years later that she was still gaga over him. But this is not a tell-all about her very brief (three months) affair with the fastly rising-to-stardom co-star.

If that’s what you are here to read, or listen to, then you’ll be disappointed. What Fisher relates in her own witty, sarcastic, and often humorous recollections of those years regarding pre and post 1977 Star Wars is the immense impact it would have on the rest of her life. Not just a successful starring part, but the beginning of a sci-fi phenomenon of globe capacity with unforgettable characters whose names are still familiar. Forget Luke, we were all over Han Solo.

The ugly and the beautiful.

Carrie can wax poetic and, indeed, a sizeable portion of this book is her daughter’s (Billie Lourd) reading of the poems she penned in the diary, along with all her observations.

“After all is said and done, I was playing for keeps and he was playing for fun.”

“A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.”

 

Carrie was bi-polar, angst ridden, and prone to abuse both drugs and alcohol. The audiobook gives the listener the impression of having a private conversation with her, extremely animated, totally open and honest, a one-on-one veritable hoot for most of the narrative. No matter the memory she related, the audiobook voice is audacious and often self-deprecating. And of course, she does discuss that iconic hairdo. (Link to sound clip on image below.)

Excerpt of The Princess Diarist read by Carrie Fisher
April 14, 1977 – Princess Leia Organa (CARRIE FISHER) – (Credit Image: © Imago via ZUMA Press)

This wasn’t her first book, however. She wrote voraciously and produced a number of other books, including two additional memoirs. Actually, her death at age 60 in December 2016 reflected the loss of a serious talent. No one can forget either the death of her mother the following day.

A thoroughly enjoyable audiobook that you must listen to for the full flavor in which it was written. Enthusiastically recommended. Then why not five stars, you wonder? (Glad you asked) The poems read by Lourd may have, in my opinion, extended for just a tad too long (for me at least, anxious to get back to Carrie’s chronicle).

Book Details:

Genre: Bipolar Disorder, Humor Essays, Biographies of Celebrities & Entertainment Professionals
Publisher:  Penguin Audio
ASIN: B01AAXYD54
Listening Length: 5 hrs 10 mins
Narrator: Carrie FisherBillie Lourd
Publication Date: November 22, 2016
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Princess Diarist [Amazon]

Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five Stars 4 1/2 stars

Carrie Fisher - author, actress, playwrightThe Author: Carrie Fisher was an American actress, screenwriter and author, most famous for her portrayal of Princess Leia in the original Star Wars trilogy. Fisher was the daughter of singer Eddie Fisher and actress Debbie Reynolds. She had one daughter, Billie Lourd (b. 1992). [Goodreads]

Her final film, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, was released on December 15, 2017 and is dedicated to her.

The Narrator: Billie Lourd was born July 17, 1992, in Los Angeles, California, the only child of actress Carrie Fisher and talent agent Bryan Lourd. Lourd is also the only grandchild of actress Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher. [Wikipedia]

©2021 V Williams V Williams

Sound clip attribute: Sound Cloud-Penguin Audio

Have a Happy Thanksgiving

Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey – #Audiobook Review – Biographies

Amazon Charts #2 this week

Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey

 

Most of the times it’s not stolen, it’s right where you left it. 

Book Blurb:

Number one New York Times best seller Over one million copies sold!

From the Academy Award-winning actor, an unconventional memoir filled with raucous stories, I’ve been in this life for 50 years, been trying to work out its riddle for 42, and been keeping diaries of clues to that riddle for the last 35. Notes about successes and failures, joys and sorrows, things that made me marvel, and things that made me laugh out loud. How to be fair. How to have less stress. How to have fun. How to hurt people less. How to get hurt less. How to be a good man. How to have meaning in life. How to be more me. 

Recently, I worked up the courage to sit down with those diaries. I found stories I experienced, lessons I learned and forgot, poems, prayers, prescriptions, beliefs about what matters, some great photographs, and a whole bunch of bumper stickers. I found a reliable theme, an approach to living that gave me more satisfaction, at the time, and still: If you know how, and when, to deal with life’s challenges – how to get relative with the inevitable – you can enjoy a state of success I call “catching greenlights”. So I took a one-way ticket to the desert and wrote this book: an album, a record, a story of my life so far. This is 50 years of my sights and seens, felts and figured-outs, cools and shamefuls. Graces, truths, and beauties of brutality. Getting away withs, getting caughts, and getting wets while trying to dance between the raindrops. Hopefully, it’s medicine that tastes good, a couple of aspirin instead of the infirmary, a spaceship to Mars without needing your pilot’s license, going to church without having to be born again, and laughing through the tears. It’s a love letter. To life. It’s also a guide to catching more greenlights – and to realizing that the yellows and reds eventually turn green, too. Good luck.

“…outlaw wisdom, and lessons learned the hard way about living with greater satisfaction.”

My Review:

Ugh! I’ve never been a fan of Matthew McConaughey. And if I can’t switch channels fast enough to NOT see another of his Lincoln TV commercials, it’ll be too soon.

I won’t deny that I don’t find him attractive. The problem is that he comes off egotistical, flaunting it (like most Hollywood women?). Narcissistic. Yeah, that too.

Greenlights by Matthew McConaugheySo why then, when I saw his audiobook come up on my wonderful library selections did I hit “request?” You’ve got me. No clue. And I’m not usually one to follow Hollywood types. The way they live is so beyond my imagination, I can’t even feign interest.

However…

McConaughey begins his book with an introduction to his early life in lower middle class east Texas. Begins with stories about his family. I’m hooked.

Strictly audiobook, strictly McConaughey and his quiet intimate voice but as he gets into his storytelling, becomes animated with nostalgic memories. And then his intro to the Hollywood scene—perhaps it all comes off too easy—and that throws him. An oft told story. Oh, he handles it with booze and women alright, pranks, and then comes his first (***) dream. (I’ll let you fill in the blank. Yeah, graphic, but not the first.)

So now MM turns into Monk McConaughey as he pushes off to seek the truth of life. Gimme a break. Would that we could all disappear for months at a time to seek the truth of life—or would I? Nah. In the quest of second and third dreams, he travels Africa and South America. (He’s already done Europe by motorcycle with two of his buddies.) And he does come back with some hard truths. Now McConaughey turns Texas Baptist preacher and mounts his pulpit. He punctuates his memoir with memorable stories or experiences that taught him little pearls of wisdom which he notes as:

PRESCRIPTION!

NOTE TO SELF! or

BUMPER STICKER!

These he almost invariably shouts. ARGH! Unfortunately, I almost invariably enjoyed them. Gees! Don’t encourage him!

It’s better to jump then fall.

 Blue collar prayers – `I need` / White collar prayers – `I want`.

It’s classified as a biography, memoir, and also personal development or self-help and his many travels and experiences have enabled him a Ghandi range of personal development and self-help ideas—many of the latter loaded into the conclusion—almost to preachy levels.

Experiences seen as problems, difficulties, crises, quandaries, and hindrances eventually turned to his “greenlights” which he is happy to share. An over-abundance of optimism. Maybe we need that right now.

If you think you might enjoy a well narrated, lively novel by Machismo Matt, go for it. If all those laughin’, scratchin’, and testosterone-driven stories might not be your cup of tea, you might want to pass. I will say, however, that it turns out he is human. It is highly entertaining and you never know what the next chapter will bring you—maybe another story you’d like to live vicariously.

Book Details:

Genre: (#1 in:) Biographies, Personal Development, Self-Help
Publisher:  Random House Audio
ASIN: B08HLW2JXD
Print Length: 288 pages
Listening Length: 6 hrs 42 mins
Narrator: Matthew McConaughey 
Publication Date: October 20, 2020
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Greenlights

 

Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five Stars 4 1/2 stars

Matthew McConaughey - actor-authorThe Author: Academy Award-winning actor Matthew McConaughey is a married man, a father of three children, and a loyal son and brother. He considers himself a storyteller by occupation, believes it’s okay to have a beer on the way to the temple, feels better with a day’s sweat on him, and is an aspiring orchestral conductor.

In 2009, Matthew and his wife, Camila, founded the just keep livin Foundation, which helps at-risk high school students make healthier mind, body, and spirit choices. In 2019, McConaughey became a professor of practice at the University of Texas at Austin, as well as Minister of Culture/M.O.C. for the University of Texas and the City of Austin. McConaughey is also brand ambassador for Lincoln Motor Company, an owner of the Major League Soccer club Austin FC, and co-creator of his favorite bourbon on the planet, Wild Turkey Longbranch.

©V Williams

Davida – a Book Review

Davida-Model & Mistress of Augustus Saint-Gaudens by Karen IngallsTitle: Davida: Model & Mistress of Augustus Saint-Gaudens by Karen Ingalls

Genre: Currently #1258 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank in Kindle eBooks, Biographies & Memoirs, Leaders & Notable People, Rich & Famous

Publication Date: March 21, 2016

Source: Review requested by author Karen Ingalls

Title and Cover: Davida – Beautiful cover depicting sculpted model

Traveling to the U.S. in 1876 with her mother, Albertina (Davida), a young Swedish girl will become a beautiful woman and later model for talented and well-known American sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens. The eventual union between artist and model, the author’s great-grandmother and Augustus Saint-Gaudens produced a son, Louis. Saint-Gaudens, however, is married. Indie Excellence Winner - Karen Ingalls Continue reading “Davida – a Book Review”

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