Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Books: Meryl Streep, Other Stars Read Audio Version of HBO Documentary Chief Sheila Nevins’ Excellent Collection of Essays


Here’s a list of the people who read the audio version of Sheila Nevins’ new book: Alan Alda, Bob Balaban, Christine Baranski, Kathy Bates, Ellen Burstyn, Glenn Close, Katie Couric, John Henry Cox, Blythe Danner, Lena Dunham, Edie Falco, Tovah Feldshuh, Diane von Furstenberg, Whoopi Goldberg, Gayle King, Diane Lane, Sandra Lee, Judith Light, Jenna Lyons, Audra McDonald, Janet Mock, Sheila Nevins, Rosie O’Donnell, Jean Richards, RuPaul, Liz Smith, Lesley Stahl, Gloria Steinem, Martha Stewart, Meryl Streep, Marlo Thomas, Lily Tomlin, and Gloria Vanderbilt.

Some group, huh?

“You Don’t Look Your Age…And Other Fairytales” will be published on Tuesday. It’s a collection of essays by the most powerful woman at HBO, maybe in television, and certainly in documentaries. Nevins, who is beloved in the film world, is the Queen of All Documentaries. Every single such film that emanates from HBO has been under her jurisdiction for an eternity. All their Emmy and Oscar nominees and winners– they came from Sheila Nevins.

So that’s why it’s a little weird that “HBO” is not mentioned in the book. There are no stories about making all those films. Instead, “You Don’t Look Your Age” is a collection of personal statements, poems, and other musings. Nevins talks about her difficult childhood, her mother’s lifelong illness, their strained relationship, and even facelifts. It’s all done in a very humorous way, except when things turn serious. Even then, though, Nevins makes lemonade from lemons.

“I’ve spent most of my life making documentaries,” Nevins starts her book. “The camera is on me now.”

“You Don’t Look Your Age” is like a Hollywood gift bag. Great for the ladies, but not so much for the men. A fascinating read, for sure. But the gift bags are mostly products for women. (Never stereo equipment or even a Phillips screwdriver.) Next book, though, please tell how you made those movies and survived all those HBO regimes. That’s what I want in my gift bag!

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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