Charles Phoenix New Book: Addicted To Americana On Sale Now!

By: Judy Shields


Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 4/18/2018 – “Everywhere I go, I look at what’s unique about that town, what makes that town special. I have a theme park sensibility, so I look for the attractions, the talking points.  The hidden treasures, collectables, where is the “there, there” there.  What makes these towns unique.  This book basically represents the highlights of all of those,” Charles Phoenix told The Hollywood Times today during a telephone interview.

The Hollywood Times (THT):  “What have you been up to?”

Charles Phoenix (Charles): “I just got back from Austin, Texas.  It was really, really fun. I mean this is a town that has completely embraced the Americana ascetic, the very vintage, retro and classic roadside American style.  I called it “ramshackle roadside relic sheek” it’s kind of it. There is a music thing played everywhere, it’s a very indoors/outdoors kind of restaurants and old honky-tonk.  They really embrace their lore there.  They put it up on a pedestal and I love that.  I love when towns treat themselves like a theme park.”

THT: Did you have a road show there?

Charles Phoenix Chicken neon sign in Austin Texas

Charles: “No, actually I had a book signing there.”

THT: So you were out promoting this amazing, wonderful and addictive book?

Charles:  “Thank you, I’m glad that you like it. I am very proud of it and worked very hard on it. It was 25 years in the making, literally.  All the travels, all the collecting of other people’s Kodachrome slides, which I started to do in 1992.  This whole book is a combination of my travels and my collections of other people’s old slides and the stories that came along with them.”

THT: Talk about your live shows:

Charles: “I have an enthusiastic delivering of the material when I am live onstage talking about it.  I have covered many elements of mid-century American culture, then and now. I think what people really love about my show is my enthusiasm.  I think enthusiasm is a very saleable commodity and I have the enthusiasm for it!  I have the info to back it up.  I have been doing my retro slide show live onstage for over 20 years now and I have many topics and subjects, depending on what city I am performing, and the shows have various names.  I always try to include stuff from the city that I am in, either vintage images or new images of vintage places, Mom and Pop shops, unsung local landmarks and maybe unnoticed local heroes and local foods.   I also cover shopping malls, which is certainly on the change now, which makes them kind of interesting topic.  There is a lot in this book and I am kind of shocked looking at it myself, frankly!”

THT: Talk a little about the history of your new book.

Charles: “This whole book represents treasure hunting.  Looking for Americana, is what it is in search of.  I go in search of it on two levels, both physically, by going out in the world and finding it and finding vintage images of it. In my case, I collect vintage Kodachrome slides and I have been collecting them since 1992. I first stumbled upon a collection in a thrift store in Pasadena and it was a little blue shoebox that I spotted and it said “Trip Across the United States 1957, which was on the side of it.  I was originally attracted to the box, because it was an old-looking shoebox.  I picked it up and there was a whole box full of some families slides from the trip across the United States in 1957.  I held a few up and I knew immediately that this was a treasure with my name on it.   So I was completely smitten from that moment on and I haven’t stopped collecting other people’s old Kodachrome slides since.  I call my collection the “slibrary,” and I have a “slibrarian.” She has basically been organizing the entire thing for about 15 years now.  This is in part the reason how I was able to do this book, because I have a lot of really unusual rare images.  I take great pride in my territorial skills both out in the field and going out to find what is interesting and what isn’t.”

THT: You are like an investigator.

Charles: “I love playing detective to find the stuff, I love going to a town and having a hunt for something. There is always some treasure that has gone missing, a car, a vintage neon sign or something that needs to be portable in some way that deserves to be found.  Occasionally I wind up going in search of some treasure that has been misplaced or no one knows where it went. Sometimes I recover them and occasionally they’re gone for good.”

I asked Charles if he had photos from when he was young and he said very few, because nobody in his family was a photographer.  “I have to rely on other people’s photos, not my own,” Charles said.

Charles also has a line of his and her clothing called Sir Charles of Phoenix, which are retro inspired.  Check it out here:






THT: Do you have any live stage shows coming up?

Charles: “Yes. I have one coming up in Las Vegas this weekend at the Orleans and another one in June called Catalinaland. A show all about the story and the glory of Catalina. It is going to be held inside the epic art deco theatre which is inside the legendary iconic casino building there on Catalina. That is going to be a rare threat to get inside that casino building and into that art deco theatre. That is coming up  June 10th.”

“What I am covering is uniquely American, for the most part and it’s a part of our culture that isn’t fading away but is fading away, but not completely!  That is why I am covering it.  I think it is really an underrated time in our history and the type of stuff that I am covering is very underrated in the scheme of things and very under covered historically. It was made in the USA.”

“What a great idea, a book to share with your children and grandchildren.  Get this book and share it with them. Make it a point to take a vacation to find these treasures, create your own memories with your children and grandchildren.  What wonderful gift to give to your parents/grandparents, so that they can share memories of some of these places they may have seem in their early days.  A great Mothers Day gift. This is such a colorful book, and belongs on everyone’s coffee table in every living room across America.   We need a book like “Addicted to Americana” in our lives, color, nostalgia, American history and it’s fantastic,” The Hollywood Times.

Here is my favorite picture from the book:


Charles Phoenix is a showman, tour guide, food crafter, and author. He is known for his live comedy slide show performances, madcap Test Kitchen videos, “field trip” tours, and colorful coffee table books, all celebrating classic and kitschy American life and style. On TV, Charles has appeared as a judge on Food Network’s Cake Wars: Christmas. He’s also guested on Storage Wars, Jay Leno’s Garage, Conan, and Martha Stewart, and is often heard on NPR. The Los Angeles Times says, “Call him the King of Retro,” and LA Weekly anointed him “the Kodachrome King.”

Growing up in Ontario, California Charles was educated at theme parks, shopping malls, and his dad’s used car lots. As a teen he discovered thrift shops, which led to a lifelong vintage shopping spree. He calls thrift shops “schools of style, museums of merchandise, and the perfect place to study the underbelly of our mass consumerism culture.”

After moving to Los Angeles and enjoying careers as a fashion designer and classic car dealer, his life changed forever — in a thrift shop — when he discovered a shoebox full of vintage Kodachrome slides marked “Trip Across the United States, 1957.” Collecting orphaned vintage slide photography soon became an obsession that inspired his retro slide show performance career, beginning in 1998.

Charles’ slide show performances are supercharged, laugh-out-loud celebrations of retro American pop culture. Fans from coast to coast enjoy his spirited story telling, gracious wit and sharp eye for oddball detail.

He covers a dizzying array of subjects and themes, projecting both vintage Kodachrome images and contemporary photos documenting his retro road trip discoveries.

No two shows are ever the same. Many performances are tailored specifically to highlight the region he’s performing in, inspiring newfound appreciation for underrated local landmarks, unique attractions, “mom-and-pop” businesses, and extreme architecture.

Charles’ popular “Disneyland” Tour of Downtown Los Angeles proves the heart and soul of the city is like a great big theme park. Touring vintage landmarks and themed environments — including Old Chinatown, Olvera Street, Clifton’s Cafeteria, Angels Flight, Bob Baker Marionette Theater, Carroll Avenue and more, he proves “Southern California doesn’t have one Disneyland, it has two!” He also leads tours of Palm Spring’s iconic mid-century modern architecture during Modernism Week.

Big Retro Slide Show Extravaganza

April 20, 2018 & April 22, 2018
Orleans Hotel Showroom
4500 W Tropicana Ave
Las Vegas, NV

Prepare for your national pride to swell when Ambassador of Americana, Charles Phoenix, launches retro pop culture into the stratosphere! With his keen expertise, unbridled enthusiasm and eagle eye for oddball detail, Charles shares the very best of his retro road-trip discoveries and colorful kaleidoscope of found vintage Kodachrome slides from the pages of his latest book, Addicted to Americana.

This is a marvelous mashup of mid-century of stories and glories of spectacular space-age style, amazing attractions, local landmarks, roadside wonders, festive foods, crazy car culture, futuristic transportation and more galore all in glorious Kodachrome COLOR! Your imagination will be inspired and your American spirit will soar!

NOTE: each show is different. Check Event schedule for show times.

June 10, 2018 at 2:00 p.m.

Live Retro Slide Show Performance Celebrating SoCal’s Enchanted Island!
Avalon Casino Theatre
1 Casino Way
Avalon, CA 90704

Click here to buy tickets:

Catalina Island Museum presents … Ambassador of Americana, Charles Phoenix, at the iconic Casino’s spectacular 1929 Art Deco movie palace.

Be prepared for your Catalina loving’ spirit to SOAR when Charles sweeps us away on a time-travel storytelling and retro slide show adventure extravaganza exploring the island’s classic landmarks, legends and lore.

Experience the backstories and glories of the S.S. Avalon, glass bottom boat, flying fish, Bird Park, Catalina Pottery, vintage souvenirs, Casino, Wrigley family, the mysterious Catalina-shaped swimming pool, and much more.

Charles also shares his vintage guide to today’s Catalina sightseeing, shopping, dining, and where to find the Island’s hidden treasures, time warps, and what not to miss as you discover Catalina as a great big theme park!

The performance is two-acts with an intermission. Festive dress is encouraged but not expected.

Aftershow Cake & Book Signing Party

You are invited to meet Charles following the performance at the Catalina Island Museum. Copies of his latest book, Addicted to Americana, will be available for purchase.

Charles is the author of many colorful, collectible coffee table books celebrating mid-century Southern California, Las Vegas, Hawaii, Kodachrome road trips and his native Pomona Valley. His latest is Addicted to Americana!

About Charles Phoenix

Addicted to Americana, author, chef, and retro pop culture humorist Charles Phoenix celebrates classic and kitschy American life and style. He is known for his live comedy slide show performances, eye-popping “test kitchen” videos, and colorful coffee table books.

On TV he is a judge on Food Network’s Cake Wars, and has appeared with Jay Leno, Martha Stewart, and Conan O’Brian. He is often heard on NPR.

Fans enjoy his clever spin and genuine reverence for Americana and trust his guide to attractions from coast to coast.


Phyllis Fender – a love letter to Leo Fender

Phyllis Fender and Randall Bell’s book “Leo Fender: The Quiet Giant Heard Around The World” cover

Leo Fender’s wife takes a look backwards at the hardworking genius behind Fender and G&L in her new book, “Leo Fender – The Quiet Giant Heard Around the World”

By JP Durand
Santa Clarita, CA (The Hollywood Times) 4/18/18 – Enigmatic and tireless, Leo Fender worked all his life towards perfecting his vision of the electric guitar.  Along the way, some of music’s most famous musicians came under the spell of Leo’s creation.  His widow, Phyllis Fender, has written a new and intimate memoir of the genius craftsman that focuses on his work ethic, his quiet behind-the-scenes personality, and the restless spirit of innovation that he started at Fender and continued at G&L.  The new book is a must-read for any serious Fender guitar fan for an intimate glimpse of the man whose quiet work truly redefined music-making worldwide, introducing iconic instruments like the Telecaster, Stratocaster, and P-Bass, as well as producing the foundational amplifiers for rock, jazz, surf, you name it.  Even the venerable Marshall brand of amps started as a tweak of Leo Fender’s Bassman circuit.  So who was this man?

Continue reading “Phyllis Fender – a love letter to Leo Fender”

Grace + Soul & Mother Wit – New Cookbook by Daphne Maxwell Reid

A Cookbook Spiced with Personal Memories


By: Judy Shields

Hollywood, California (The Hollywood Times) 4/9/2018 “I kept thinking well I have to really codify this sometime and I was encouraged to get that cookbook off my computer. After publishing four other books I said I could do this. I decided this was the time to do it and I did it.” Daphne Maxwell Reid told The Hollywood Times during a phone interview from Virginia.

I totally have to write this: Every person out there who thinks cookbooks are not worth having, you are mistaken. You, plus everyone else out there in the universe needs to have this cookbook. Order one today for yourself and why not get one for that unique gift for a new bride, new mother or anyone that enjoys cooking.

Daphne’s new cookbook will conjure the souls of your grandmother, mother and aunts. It is Unique!

From the first page where Daphne talks about “children not being taught “living” skills, like home making, manners, and common sense and if you think the microwave oven is an essential cooking tool, this may be an eye-opening book for you.”

The second and third pages with a photo of what a table setting should look like and a photo of her beautiful parents Mother Rosalee and Father Green.

Daphne has turned this cookbook into her personal memories opening the door to her life and ask us to come in and make ourselves feel at home.

The introduction pages are filled with her fond memories of her parents and pictures of them, Daphne’s family and adorable pictures of her and her photographic career from 1948-1960 and 1966-1999. She shares wonderful memories of Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays at her farm in Charlottesville, Virginia and has a few pictures of the amazing grounds and spectacular view.

Throughout the book, she shares some of her memories as well as some of her favorite recipes. Page 9 starts with Setting Up the Kitchen, what really, we truly have to set up our kitchen. That is what I’ve been doing wrong all along!

Daphne shows formal dinner place settings as well as casual place settings. Tableware for daily meals, essential pots & pans, utensils along with optional pots & pans and utensils. Pantry and refrigerator essentials. She even has a couple of her beautiful menu cards. She is so talented. There is also basic cooking terms and measurements & stuff.

I really enjoyed the Appeteasers, as her Father Green Maxwell used to call appetizers the “teaser” before the meal. Her Guacamole and Mom’s Cheese biscuits recipes are delicious.

Daphne and I had a great conversation about her new book, her passion for photography and her Custom Made Wearable Art creations called DAPHNE STYLE which are Chinese inspired silk brocade coats she makes and sells on her website:
The Hollywood Times (THT): What are you doing for fun these days?

Tim Reid & Daphne Maxwell Reid (Photo IndieWire)

Daphne Maxwell Reid (DMR): “I also have a collection of wearable art that I have made and I do photography and write books about that and I help my husband (actor Tim Reid) with his institute where he is training filmmakers and, and, and. We have been in this film business for many years now and we built a studio here in Virginia for him to work and we had that for about 18 years and we sold it about three years ago. Now he has downsized to a smaller studio about eight years ago. He started an institute to train filmmakers on the college level because they were not getting any practical knowledge in the schools. It has become an international institute and he has trained over 80 fellows that have gone through this program.”

THT: What was your inspiration for this cookbook?

DMR: “I started this cookbook about 38 years ago. Just living life and collecting recipes from the people who I was working with and the people I grew up with and hung out with. I would have a meal at their house and say this is good and they would give me the recipe. I have been collecting them for years and years and Tim and I used to print these little calendars out with the recipes and send them out as Christmas gifts.”

“It was time for a memoir too, because people kept asking me about my life. When you live a long time they want to know where you are from, how did you do this, so I just put a little bit in the cookbook.”

THT: Do you still talk to your Vivian Bank’s family?

Daphne Maxwell Reid Aunt Viv from Fresh Prince of Bel Air

DMR: “Sure, we hang out together and we help each other do whatever it is we are doing. Kids and babies and going to weddings. It has been great. It’s rare that it ends up being that cohesive.

I have done a bunch of series and this is the one that is most cohesive of the remaining people who were in the show.” (The show being Fresh Prince of Bel Air)

THT: You were a model back in college, how was that for you?

DMR: “I got discovered when I was in college and did that as a lark and it turned into a lovely lark. I kept doing it until I started doing commercials and that was fun and then I started doing voiceovers and that was even more because I didn’t have to put on makeup to do it. Robert Conrad discovered me in Chicago and put me on television on a show he was doing called “The Duke” and that was fun. When I left Chicago and moved to Los Angeles, he was doing another show called “A Man Called Sloan” and he put me on that show and I just kept falling into these wonderful opportunities and learning what I could learn behind the scenes to keep having fun. The stars aligning and taking advantage of opportunities and being prepared for those opportunities by boning up on what I was supposed to know.”

THT: When you were doing modeling was it good back then?

DMR: “It was great, I was in college in Chicago and modeling in New York. I was flying, doing my job and saying hi to my Mom and then going back to school. I had no drama like what is going on with the me too movement now. I was young and really never ran into that. I think they understood that I wasn’t going to put up with something like that. I believe one agent did one approach and he didn’t need to do that anymore.”

THT: What was your passion in college? Modeling?

DMR: “No not at all. That was an opportunity to make some money to get me through school. All they asked me to do was smile and I really know how to do that. I never did runway or anything like that, I was a junior model and I did a lot of editorial stuff. I was never seeking to be what has become supermodels. They did not have supermodels back then, because they had working models. I was happy when they called and not distressed when they didn’t call. I was studying interior design and architecture and having a really good time doing drafting and planning to be architect.”

“I had a real deep interest in detail and architect itself. Being in Chicago you can’t escape great architecture. It was a great environment to be exposed to all sorts of different styles and see where my eye took me. It was helpful in my later years when I turned 60 and decided to become a photographic artist, you just declare it you know, you just say today I’m going to be a photographic artist. (Laughter) you put it there and figure out how to make it come true. I decided to be a photographic artist and realized that the pictures that I had been taking for years were all details of architecture and mostly doors. I started a whole series of photographs from around the world and they became books, and notecards and prints that sold like crazy before the economy crashed. That was my passion for a good ten years. I’m still doing that and now I had to shift my focus to my design work.”

“I was born with a lot of gifts and God gave me gifts of things that I need to share. So I am taking this time to share those gifts and express the creativity that I was Blessed with.”

THT: What are you designing?

DMR: “I am designing Chinese coats that folks have been buying very much and I hand make all of them and it takes too much time to do both photos and that.

So I do a spirt of designing and sewing and then I go back to my photography and then I talk about the cookbook and another third thing and another track that is keeping me busy. I have having a great time of my life.”

THT: Tell us about these Chinese coats.

DMR: “Go onto my website at Daphne Style and you will see these toppers that I have been making out of Chinese 100% silk brocades and I have been wearing for years and people have always stopped me in the streets and asked where did you get that and I want one of those and I would say I make it and no. Then finally about three years ago my husband said you should really start making those for other people. And I knew what the time commitment was going to be and I was in the middle of finishing up the cookbook and my fourth book of photography and I said yeah I’ll get to that. He had a fundraising fashion show and he said you are going to be in it so make something. I was able to sell a coat right off the runway and continued on that track for the past two years. I did New York Fashion week, which was a lot of fun. I am getting ready for another fashion show. So I am going to be a little beaver in my studio selling stuff for the next month or two. We have fundraisers here in Virginia for my husband’s institute.”

Check out her designs at:

THT: Are you doing any type of television work?

DMR: “I have local show here on PBS called “Virginia Currents” and I am the host of that. It is a show that is shown every week, although we tape it in bunches. I will go where any of the casting agents call me. I still have agents and still do auditions, haven’t landed anything lately, but okay.”

Daphne has three grandchildren, ages 16, 14 and 12, which also keeps her busy. She also said that Northwestern has a great deal of her archives. She said she loves their facility and they maintain it digitally so that it will be available for research and for her kids. She was very honored when they asked for that.

Opening Closed Doors: Cuba 2015 is available now. Travel with Daphne through Cuba, just prior to the process of lifting the United States embargo, to see the beautiful Cuban culture through her eyes.

Belgium: Doors Old & New is the third of her collections, a catalogue of two wonderfully charming cities in Belgium, Brugge and Antwerp.

France, featuring the beautiful doors she found in Auvillar, Toulouse, and Paris.

HOT OFF THE PRESS: A book without doors, Grace, Soul and Motherwit: A Cookbook Spiced with Personal Memories AND the 2018 Calendar from Venice, Italy (autographed on your birthday) is now available.

All of her books are dedicated, autographed, and dated when purchased. Get them today, one for yourself and get several, they will make excellent gifts.


About Daphne Maxwell Reid

People remember me as “Aunt Vivian” from “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.” Throughout my years of work on television, I traveled the world and captured images of portals, doors, gates and architectural details, some of which have sparked a strong emotional response in me; they awakened the sense of wonder and curiosity that took me back to my childhood when I was endlessly exploring what was behind the many doors that surrounded me.

The time has come for me to share my photographic eye with you. I hope to awaken your childhood sense of wonder and curiosity with “Daphne Maxwell Reid’s Fresh Prints®” a collection of signed DIGITAL PRINTS, and four BOOKS that share with you the stories of the journeys that have taken me around the world, as well a one book of memories in the form of a cookbook entitled “Grace, Soul & Mother Wit”.

Reid was born in New York City, the daughter of Rosalee and Green Maxwell. She is a graduate of the Bronx High School of Science. She received a degree in interior design and architecture from Northwestern University, which she attended on a scholarship and where she became the first African-American woman to be named homecoming queen. While at Northwestern she began a modeling career, eventually signing with the Eileen Ford modeling agency. She was one of the first black women to be on the cover of Glamour magazine.

She has appeared in numerous television programs. Her best-known role was replacing Janet Hubert-Whitten as Vivian Banks on the NBC sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air from 1993 to 1996. She joined the show right after the fictional character Nicky Banks was born toward the end of Season 3, when Hubert-Whitten was released from her contract after a contract violation and multiple problems working with the show’s star, Will Smith. She had a recurring role as JT’s mother, Frances Hunter, on the UPN sitcom Eve, and then played Juanita Lawrence on the BET sitcom Let’s Stay Together. Reid is also an accomplished photographer. During the 1980s and 1990s Reid served on the advisory board of the National Student Film Institute.

Recipient of the Women of Vision Award from Women in Film & Video – DC. (Wikipedia)

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle: Linda Joyce on Royal Love and Marriage

TORONTO, ON – SEPTEMBER 25: Prince Harry (R) and Meghan Markle (L) attend a Wheelchair Tennis match during the Invictus Games 2017 at Nathan Philips Square on September 25, 2017 in Toronto, Canada (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images for the Invictus Games Foundation )

by Dr. Laura Wilhelm, LauraWil Intercultural

West Hollywood, CA (The Hollywood Times) 3/6/18 – Linda Joyce is one of the most sought-after media personalities and public speakers in New York City, London, and Shanghai.  Joyce is a one-woman powerhouse for people trying to solve difficult personal problems.  Her client list includes well-known celebrities and international business titans looking to merge the worlds of the intuitive with the practical.

Author of the best-selling book THE DAY YOU WERE BORN and many others, Linda is a frequent guest on radio and television.  She has appeared on 20/20 with Barbara Walters, the HOWARD STERN SHOWTHE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN, and FORGIVE AND FORGET with Robin Givens. Linda Joyce’s always practical and no-nonsense tips have been seen on Continue reading “Prince Harry and Meghan Markle: Linda Joyce on Royal Love and Marriage”

The Power of Numbers book by Jesse Kalsi

Reviewed: by Elizabeth Carbe’

Santa Clarita, CA (The Hollywood Times) 1/22/18 – The Power of Home Numbers is an interesting and engaging read for the well-seasoned numerologist, novice or skeptic. Continue reading “The Power of Numbers book by Jesse Kalsi”

‘I Wrote That One, Too’ Book by Steve Dorff

Steve Dorff wrote for a diverse gamut of singers including Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion, Blake Shelton, Smokey Robinson, Kenny Rogers, Ray Charles, Anne Murray, Whitney Houston, George Strait, Dolly Parton, Judy Collins, Cher, Dusty Springfield, Ringo Starr, and Garth Brooks.

I Wrote That One, Too… 

A Life in Songwriting from Willie to Whitney

by Steve Dorff with Colette Freedman

Montclair, NJ  (November 2, 2017)  – One of the most successful songwriters and composers of the last 25 years, Steve Dorff has penned over 20 Top 10 hits for pop and country artists around the world, including Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion, Blake Shelton, Smokey Robinson, Kenny Rogers, Ray Charles, Anne Murray, Whitney Houston, George Strait, Dolly Parton, Judy Collins, Cher, Dusty Springfield, Ringo Starr, and Garth Brooks. He has scored for television shows, including Growing Pains, Murphy Brown, Murder She Wrote, and Reba, and several films, such as Any Which Way but Loose, for which he penned the titular song.

Steve has now written his next hit, I Wrote That One, Too… A Life in Songwriting from Willie to Whitney (Backbeat Books Hardcover; November 1, 2017; $29.99), a memoir recounting his remarkable journey filled with amazing successes, happy accidents in the studio, incredible friendships, tremendous creative satisfaction, and sometimes just plain being at the right place at the right time with the right song in hand. He writes:

“I truly have loved being that ‘behind-the-scenes’ guy, maintaining my anonymity, and being able to walk past the obnoxious Paparazzi at great restaurants without them giving me a second glance. In my opinion, being a songwriter who has had a successful career and doing what he is passionate about, is an award in itself.”

The book follows Steve from his childhood in Queens to Manhattan to Nashville to his eventual arrival in Los Angeles. Steve shares anecdotes, advice, and insights into his phenomenal career and recounts his experiences and sometimes-hilarious behind-the-scenes stories with the many famous singers, musicians, producers, and lyric writers with whom he has collaborated. He also gets personal and shares what he has learned about strength, courage, perseverance, and unconditional love from three important women in his life: his first wife and his mother-who passed away within a few months of each other-and his big sister, who died in May 2016.

Full of heartfelt stories, hard-earned wisdom, and delightful wit, I Wrote That One, Too… is a great read for musicians, music fans, and whoever has chased a dream and survived the surprising but often serendipitous turns in the road.

About the Authors:

Steve Dorff is a Grammy-nominee songwriter with a long line of hits to his credit, including Kenny Rogers’ “Through the Years” and most recently Garth Brooks’ “Baby, Let’s Lay Down and Dance.” An industry stalwart with a career spanning four decades, Dorff is the recipient of the NSAI Songwriter of the Year award and has been honored with more than 40 BMI awards, 14 Billboard No. 1s, and 15 Top 10 Hits. More recently, he has returned to his first love, musical theater, with his forthcoming musical “Josephine. His songs reflect all musical genres, from contemporary sounds to haunting orchestral melodies, and he continues to be an integral part of today’s music scene.

Colette Freedman is an internationally produced playwright with over 25 produced plays. She was voted “One of 50 to Watch” by the Dramatist’s Guild. Her play Sister Cities was the hit of the 2008 Edinburgh Fringe, earned five-star reviews, and has been produced internationally. She has co-written a number of books with such best-selling writers as Jackie Collins and Michael Scott, and has written two novels, The Affair and The Consequences.

I Wrote That One, Too… A

 Life in Songwriting from Willie to Whitney

By Steve Dorff with Colette Freedman

(ISBN 9781495077296; 272 Pages; $29.99)

Backbeat Books Hardcover; November 1, 2017

Available at

More information at &

Author Rachel McCord and her book ‘Slay The Fame Game’

Hollywood’s “it” girl, Rachel McCord, proudly announces the release of her new book, “SLAY THE FAME GAME”( 

Your ultimate guide to cracking the fame code, McCord’s book gives you industry secrets on how to “break into Hollywood and social media without it breaking you!”

After reading thousands of self-help books from the age of 13, McCord penned her own sassy self-LOVE and Hollywood “how-to” guide for young girls seeking extraordinary lives. 

Drawing on her own experiences, from growing up in trailer parks in Georgia, to overcoming early life traumas and ultimately making it in one of the world’s most competitive industries; the entertainment industry. 

McCord thoughtfully empowers readers to love, accept, and believe in themselves, even as they face the crippling social media scrutiny and self-defamation that comes with chasing after your big dreams.

 She shares her top five tips for girls to live by: Always believe in yourself. Whether you want to “SLAY THE FAME GAME”, or you just want to slay life in general, you need to think positive thoughts and always believe in yourself.

Be authentic. If you don’t brand yourself, someone else will…and you may not like what they come up with! Decide who you are, and what you want to be known for…be that 100%. 

Network like a Queen. Make the conversation about the other person, and, when asked, have your “humble brag” ready to go.

Develop great relationships. Business is all about relationships. Stay humble, be the first to bring value, and, never burn a bridge.

Build a supportive community. Create an environment for success, by surrounding yourself with other successful people, who you love and respect. 

“Every girl should feel like a queen, whether she is on the red carpet, or in the grocery store checkout line,” says McCord, and her book offers insight on all of the real-world essentials to conquer the fame game, from staying centered and mentally strong, to slaying social media, networking events, and rocking your portfolio. 

While the advice centers on her own experience modeling and helping fellow talent in the industry, McCord writes for girls everywhere, in every industry, who seek help with personal branding,networking, and nailing their “humble brag.” 

Every girl in today’s social media-driven culture lives a very public life, and McCord offers game-changing tips for navigating through the inevitable insecurities, peer pressures, and self-judgment that will arise,without losing your most important asset: your unique and beautiful heart.

Rachel McCord is a model, “on-camera” personality, speaker, author and philanthropist. Earning features in top magazines and outlets, including Vogue and Glamour, Rachel is also the star and producer of her own show, “The Rachel McCord Show: From Trailer Parks to Red Carpets”, and a renowned speaker on such stages as UCLAThe Startup Series, Marketing in the Digital Age, and Share.Like.Buy.

Passionate about leveraging emergent media platforms to help fellow talent accomplish their dreams, she works tirelessly to inspire others, and help them realize that no matter where you come from, you can live a full and fabulous life. 

A serial entrepreneur at heart, Rachel collaborates with, advises, and encourages her vast network of peers, celebrities, bloggers, and influencers on all things related to branding, social media, and Hollywood.



by Dr. Laura Wilhelm, LauraWil Intercultural

West Hollywood, CA (The Hollywood Times) 9/6/17 – Nobility can be conferred from without or come from within.  Less often than we might like, someone can be noble both inside and out.  Such may have been the case with Diana, Princess of Wales (1961-1997), also known as “Her Royal Highness” and “The People’s Princess.”

Many of us still remember Diana’s fairytale wedding to Prince Charles at Saint Paul’s Cathedral on 29 July 1981.  The ravishing bride was only twenty at the time and came to the altar full of youthful hopes and dreams. Continue reading “DIANA: I’M GOING TO BE ME”

Alan Cummings confirmed for Listowel Writers Week

Alan Cumming confirmed for 2017 Festival!

He kept his promise to Listowel Writers’ Week of two years ago when he had to unfortunately cancel his trip here due to the Tony Awards. We told him then we would keep a place for him when he was ready to attend… and now that time has arrived!

It is not hard to feel like an outsider. I think we have all felt like that at one time or another.” When Alan Cumming wrote those words he had clearly not heard that at Listowel Writers’ Week we stand for no such nonsense. There are no outsiders here and this is probably why he has, to our mutual delight, accepted an invitation to appear at this year’s festival. No small coincidence, either, that his latest book is entitled ‘You Gotta Get Bigger Dreams‘ as he achieves his long held ‘bigger dream’ to visit Listowel and take part in the festival.

Described by the New York Times as “a bawdy counter cultural sprite” and named as one of the most fun people in show business by Time magazine, Alan Cumming is a genuine quadruple threat—an internationally acclaimed, award-winning star of stage, television, and film, as well as a New York Times best-selling author.

You Gotta Get Bigger Dreams was released in September, subtitled My Life In Stories and Pictures, it is a collection of essays and photographs, literal snapshots from his very varied and wonderful, blurry life.

His previous book, the memoirNot my Father’s Son came about after an unexpected phone call from his long-estranged father brought the pain of the past hurtling back into the present and unravelled everything he thought he knew about himself. Not My Father’s Son is the story of his journey of discovery, both a memoir of his childhood in Scotland, and an investigation into his family history which would change him forever.

Alan Cumming is beyond eclectic. He was an award-winning Hamlet, and he had his own talk show. He was a tour de force solo Macbeth and he voiced a Smurf, twice. He shot a video portrait with Robert Wilson, and recorded a duet with Liza Minnelli. He made ‘back to back’ films with Stanley Kubrick and the Spice Girls. He appeared in a Jay Z video and he wrote a New York Times best-selling memoir. 

His many television appearances include Sex and the City, Frasier, The L Word, Reefer Madness and Tin Man. He played Eli Gold in seven seasons of the CBS series The Good Wife, for which he has received multiple Golden Globe, Emmy, SAG, Critic’s Circle and Satellite Awards nominations.  He also famous here for his role as Sean Walsh in the film adaptation of Maeve Binchy’s Circle of Friends.

Bookings NOW OPEN for this event which will take place on Friday 2nd June at 9pm

Early Bird Bookings can also be made now for Richard Ford, Margaret Drabble, Richard Ford, Helen Lederer/Ian McPherson, Age & Opportunity Bealtaine Festival 2017 and Paul Howard.

Alan Cumming talks to James Corden about his latest book ‘You Gotta Get Bigger Dreams‘.
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Steve Jones signs “Lonely Boy: Tales from a Sex Pistol” at Barnes & Noble Books- The Grove Thursday, February 16 at 7 PM – 9 PM

The Lord of La Cienega aka King Steve Of BlaBlaBla doesn’t mince his words nor his music selections at 12 bells weekdays on KLOS 95.5 FM. His book Lonely Boy is a deep alley journey into the back streets of the mind of a solitude Sex Pistol guitar slinger in men’s suits, platform boots and a bit of rouge. This rogue is a cheeky Chelsea fan and main man in the punk rock n roll history of the music business. Definitely never mind the bollocks!

The Lord of La Cienega aka King Steve Of BlaBlaBla doesn’t mince his words nor his music selections at 12 bells weekdays on KLOS 95.5 FM. His book Lonely Boy is a deep alley journey into the back streets of the mind of a solitude Sex Pistol guitar slinger in men’s suits, platform boots and a bit of rouge. This rogue is a cheeky Chelsea fan and main man in the punk rock n roll history of the music business. Definitely never mind the bollocks!

Steve Jones signs “Lonely Boy: Tales from a Sex Pistol” at Barnes & Noble Books- The Grove Thursday, February 16 at 7 PM – 9 PM

Recognized as one of the key inventors of punk and celebrated as a living legend, guitarist and songwriter Steve Jones revisits his unruly, and often tragic, past in his autobiography, Lonely Boy: Tales from a Sex Pistol.

Its release will coincide with the 40th anniversary of the band’s platinum debut album, Never Mind the Bollocks, which set the world on fire in 1977.In Lonely Boy, Jones recounts the nihilistic songs, amphetamine-fueled music, and influential anarchical fashion that turned a street urchin into a founding member of a genre-defining band.

From his days of petty crime and havoc-wreaking in England, to his first impression of Sid Vicious and famously blowing off the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony with Johnny Rotten, Lonely Boy offers a portrait of a punk pioneer—a demigod to a generation of frustrated youth who identified with the band’s political and social condemnations of life for the working class.

In January 2016 Steve Jones returned to the daytime airwaves of Southern California FM radio at ’12 bells’ from noon to 2pm. The first month was bittersweet with the deaths of music legends Lemmy, Bowie and Prince. The two hours show was not initially a daily weekday show but the demand for more Jonesy quickly evolved.

What is the charm of this ageless lovable grumpy at times punk ?? Could it be his on air random belches on the mic? His banter with a variety of guests from book authors to music legends?  Yes, yes, yes!  He is the extraordinary one of a kind rock n roll everyman. He grumbles about the traffic and rushing to the radio station. He forgets things on air yet he picks up quick on the cues of his producer Mr Shovel, his on air wingman and radio host of the local indie hour Sound Check at 8pm on Sunday.

Steve complains about his weight yet works on improving it. He got his teeth fixed. His fans tune in from across the southland from a variety of fans like Don in Costa Mesa who listens from his longtime college job, a caregiver in Rosemead making lunch for an aging half deaf Irish granny, Jeff in a metal company in Huntington Beach, as well as countless car radios of drivers, construction workers and school teachers on lunchbreaks.
An ample supply of glam 80s rock, early heavy metal, British rock and punk is played plus random gems by Thin Lizzy, Iggy Pop, The Tubes and new indie tunes by newcomers like The Regrettes.

In his deep sexy gruff but playful voice Steve recites his playlist to the listeners. It is like a two hour visit to your favourite record store where you overhear the counter talk of the clerks and customers while the staff picks are played. Before the listener knows it the two hours recess is done and the station change of djs. Weeknights at KLOS is a rebroadcast of the daily show. When Steve is on vacation or away for a book signing then Mr. Shovel takes the helm to air a Vintage Past show. During the show there are Caller contests plus listeners can text requests. Steve is a shameless and proud self promoter with his adventurous instagram performances and his other social media connections.

Join Steve Jones for this Special Event!
This is a wristbanded event.

A wristband will be issued to customers who purchase Lonely Boy from Barnes & Noble at The Grove beginning February 16th at 9am• Limit 1 wristband per book
• Books can be personalized
• Photos from the line and front of table.No posed photos
• Steve Jones will only be signing Lonely Boy
• No memorabilia please

Getting off on Frank Sinatra –

getting-off-on-frank-sinatra-book-coverNew Novel by Megan Edwards

By:  Judy Shields

Los Angeles, (The Hollywood Times) 1/31/17 – “This is my first to be published novel, I have actually written several other books.”  I finally got one published!” Megan Edwards, author of “Getting off on Frank Sinatra” told The Hollywood Times this afternoon over the phone calling in from Las Vegas, Nevada.

“Getting off on Frank Sinatra” is available for pre-order on Amazon and Barnes and Nobel and will be available wherever books are sold on March 14, 2017 as paperback, e-book and audiobook.

I received the book from Megan’s publicist and once I started reading it, I could not put it down, it was certainly a page turner.  The story of Copper Black, new to Las Vegas and living with her brother and his wife, and still learning her way around a city with streets named after its famous people.  Copper is pursuing a career as a serious journalist, she takes a job editing the calendar section for Las Vegas Light. Continue reading “Getting off on Frank Sinatra –”


prattBy Dr. Laura Wilhelm, LauraWil Intercultural
West Hollywood, CA (The Hollywood Times) 11/2/16 – This reporter started to reflect upon the rise and fall of the best and the brightest when a family friend passed away on August 24th, 2016. This was Dr. Roger Tsien, winner of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Her father, Dr. William B. Kristan, Jr., a Distinguished Professor Emeritus at UC San Diego, was proud to call Dr. Tsien his colleague along with many other Nobelists.
Roger’s health was never robust, and the stress of the media circus surrounding his Nobel win may have hastened his demise. He is likely to win other Nobel and major scientific awards posthumously. Tsien’s classic work on following the progress of Alzheimer’s and tracking cancer cells will leave an indelible legacy.
UCSD was founded in 1960. The college immediately started to attract top science talents like Tsien and Kristan from world class Ivy League institutions such as Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania to fill its faculty positions. Few could resist UCSD’s cool Southern California vibe and fun in the sun approach to science.
Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud

But UCSD proved to be much more than a party school despite its annual Watermelon Queen competitions! In the space of 50 short but scintillating years it was starting to take its place as a research institution of choice, sometimes edging out the competition back East as well as better established California institutions such as Stanford and UC Berkeley.

During these same 50 years UCSD racked up 20 Nobel Laureates (including Dr. Tsien) at the rate of four per decade. National Geographic recently named San Diego a World Smart City thanks to standout institutions like UCSD.
How could all of this have happened so quickly? What power do Nobelists possess that allows them to exercise so much impact?
Dr. David Pratt attempts to answer questions like these and many more in his new 197-page book NOBEL LAUREATES: THE SECRET OF THEIR SUCCESS ( A longtime teacher and freelance writer for scholarly and literary publications, Dr. Pratt has published eight books.
Nazis have a heil of a history
Nazis have a heil of a history

Dr. Pratt was born in Britain in 1939 and moved to Canada in 1962. He holds a BA from the University of Oxford and a PhD from the University of Toronto.

No doubt Nobelists have much to teach students, scientists, writers, world leaders, and proponents of peace. And perhaps they can also motivate us ordinary citizens who want to break out of the box and become much bigger!
This reporter was presciently named Laura, meaning “crowned with laurels” in Latin. She has wanted to win a Nobel Prize ever since she could remember! What should she do?
According to Pratt, it didn’t hurt that she was born in the United States to a well-educated middle-class family with one ultra high achiever in science. During the period 1901-2014, 339 Nobel Prizes were awarded in the USA. Compare this with 110 in the UK, 82 in Germany, 59 in France, and 30 in Sweden where the prizes originated with Alfred Nobel. (page 24)
David James Thouless has won the 2016 Nobel Prize in physics
David James Thouless has won the 2016 Nobel Prize in physics

But alas, she was born female instead of male! This makes a Nobel win for her orders of magnitude less likely. By 2014 only 47 women had been awarded Nobel Prizes in the six categories of Physics, Economics, Chemistry, Physiology/Medicine, Literature, and Peace with only two in Physics, two in Economics, and five in Chemistry. Compare this with 817 men! (page 34)

Like Roger Tsien, numerous Nobel recipients in the United States have been foreign born. Many have fled catastrophes in other parts of the world such as wars and genocides. Pratt quotes Dr. Eric Kandel, another old Kristan family friend who won the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 2000 after escaping from Austria during Hitler’s reign and the Nazi Holocaust.
Nobel Peace Prize recipients in particular have often suffered extremes of imprisonment, torture, starvation, exile, and social ostracism following the dictates of conscience. Well-known examples are Martin Luther King, Jr. (1964), Elie Wiesel (1968), and Nelson Mandela (1993). In 2014 seventeen-year-old Malala Yousafzai became the youngest Nobel Peace Prize recipient to date after she was shot in the head and nearly killed by the Taliban defending the rights of girls to become educated in her native Pakistan.
51h1tqacnhlNobel Literature Prize recipients come from all across the board. The decisions for the Literature prizes sometimes seem capricious.
Count Leo Tolstoy of Russia is still one of the most renowned non-recipients of the Nobel, with the prize going to many lesser writers during his lifetime. Songwriter Bob Dylan is 2016’s surprise winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”
So Nobels can go to the children of privilege and the children of poverty. They are awarded in good times and bad. And they reward innovation and creativity above all. So can we predict who will win one?
Many Nobelists show high intelligence from early childhood. Dr. Pratt does not mention one of this reporter’s favorite Nobelists, Dr. John Nash, recipient of the 1994 Nobel Prize in Economics.
Nash was a child prodigy whose typewritten 28-page doctoral thesis composed at Princeton in 1950 put him on the road to Nobel glory despite disabling bouts of paranoid schizophrenia throughout life. At the age of 86 his life ended tragically in a car crash as he and his wife were returning home to New Jersey from Oslo, Norway following Nash’s receipt of the prestigious Abel Prize in Mathematics with a cash award of $800,000. He was still teaching math at Princeton!
Nobel Prize in Physics Awarded to David Thouless, Duncan Haldane and Michael Kosterlitz - WSJ
Nobel Prize in Physics Awarded to David Thouless, Duncan Haldane and Michael Kosterlitz – WSJ

Associations with elite schools like Princeton are common for Nobelists, as are high longevity and sustained productivity throughout life. Many Nobelists shun retirement and become busier than ever with age.

It is of course this commitment to their talents and causes that puts Nobelists in a class by themselves. The extraordinary courage in their hearts is at least as important as the exceptional capabilities in their heads.
As David Pratt concludes, “All Nobel laureates. . .are universally marked by a passion for their work that cones close to obsession, a level of industry and application that are extraordinary, a near-total immersion in their field of endeavor, and a dedication that makes their work supremely fulfilling. And this is the secret of their success.” (page 163)
Oliver Hart, right, the Andrew E. Furer Professor of Economics at Harvard, and Nobel laureate Eric Maskin, economics 2007, also from Harvard, laugh together following a news conference at Harvard in Cambridge, Mass., Monday, Oct. 10, 2016. Hart and Finnish economist Bengt Holmstrom, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, shared the 2016 Nobel Economics Prize for their contributions to contract theory. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
Oliver Hart, right, the Andrew E. Furer Professor of Economics at Harvard, and Nobel laureate Eric Maskin, economics 2007, also from Harvard, laugh together following a news conference at Harvard in Cambridge, Mass., Monday, Oct. 10, 2016. Hart and Finnish economist Bengt Holmstrom, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, shared the 2016 Nobel Economics Prize for their contributions to contract theory. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

There are NO shortcuts to success! Read NOBEL LAUREATES: THE SECRET OF THEIR SUCCESS if you wish to be inspired by the ones who have worked harder to reap rewards than most others in this world.



clinton3By Laura Wilhelm
West Hollywood, CA (The Hollywood Times) 10/26/16 – Bond, Alma H., PhD.  Baltimore:  Bancroft Press, 2015.  285 pages.  (Genre: Psychobiography)
Happy Birthday Hillary Clinton!  What a belated birthday present the Presidency would make.
Today seemed like the right day to review Dr. Alma Bond’s book HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: ON THE COUCH for THE HOLLYWOOD TIMES.  The 285 pages flew by very fast during the roar of election news pouring in from all sides.
The best thing about reading Dr. Bond’s book during this historic campaign is that it overviews Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s remarkable life history from A to Z, touching equally upon the personal and the political.  “I only follow the rules when I agree with them,” says the Clinton character on page 194.


Sunny Goes to the Beach –

sunny-goes-to-the-beach-book-coverA New Children’s Book on Sun Safety

By: Judy Shields

Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 10/6/16 –  “Katherine C. Troutman, FNP, better known as “Casey” told The Hollywood Times yesterday about her new children’s book, Sunny Goes to the Beach.

It was nice of Casey to find time for a phone interview during her busy day, which includes writing the Sunny series, taking care of her 2-year-old son, Liam, and caring for her newborn daughter Madelaine born last Monday.  Mom and baby are doing just great.  I bet brother Liam is happy his baby sister is here and of course Liam’s daddy too.

THT: What were you like in school growing up? Continue reading “Sunny Goes to the Beach –”

GOOGLE IT and Global Issues

Google Itby Dr. Laura Wilhelm, LauraWil Intercultural
West Hollywood, CA (The Hollywood Times) 8/8/16 –
“Search is curiosity, and that will never be done.”–Marissa Mayer
The truth is out there, we just need to Google it!  So claims Newton Lee, transhumanist author of GOOGLE IT: TOTAL INFORMATION AWARENESS.  The 589-page book explores the impact of information awareness on humanity from the Book of Genesis to the modern day.
GOOGLE IT will be available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Springer Science + Business Media beginning on September 23rd, 2016–the very start of the artistic and intellectual Libra season.  Please follow the link below to pre-order the book:

Continue reading “GOOGLE IT and Global Issues”

The Marijuana Project – First Novel from Author Brian Laslow

Brian Laslow
Brian Laslow

By: Judy Shields

Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) June 27, 2016 – “No one has been able to guess the ending on my book and the characters are based on people I know.  The story is fictional, but it is based on my real experiences (fact) of a job I took.”

The Hollywood Times caught up with author Brian Laslow this past week to talk about his first fictional novel, The Marijuana Project based on his non-fictional career in the security industry.

Don’t let the title discourage you from getting a copy of this book. It was well written about a man and his struggle with his morality and medicine.  It is definitely a page turner.  Brian Laslow did his research about the controversy of medical marijuana and used that research throughout this novel.  Continue reading “The Marijuana Project – First Novel from Author Brian Laslow”

Brainstorm – Book Review

brainstromBy: Judy Shields

Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 11/10/15 – “It’s an eye opener, a life altering event, that just grabs you by the lapel and shakes you up like crazy, it  was such an action packed and frustrating few days in our lives.”  Robert Wintner, author of “Brainstorm, A Memoir of Love, Devotion, and a Cerebral Aneurysm” told The Hollywood Times during a phone interview.

Book Description:

Brainstorm is a first-person narrative of incidents leading up to, through and after a cerebral aneurysm and hemorrhage in the immediate family. The action includes the dramatic process ongoing in trauma centers designed to process sudden occurrence of aneurysm, cerebral hemorrhage and morbidity. The American Medical Association estimates that 3% of all populations have aneurysm that may or may not leak—about 3½ million people in the U.S. Continue reading “Brainstorm – Book Review”

Rise & Fall of Death Row Records

WTDR Book CoverBy:Kely Lyons

Filling in the Gaps, Gaining Perspective: S. LEIGH SAVIDGE’S “Welcome to Death Row: The Uncensored History of the Rise & Fall of Death Row Records in the Words of Those Who Were There”

Xenon Press – September 2015

For anyone with an interest in how the issues of race, money and power play out in American life, S. Leigh Savidge’s “Welcome to Death Row: The Uncensored History of the Rise & Fall of Death Row Records in the Words of Those Who Were There” is required reading. The book details a breathtakingly complicated saga of talent, fame, greed and hubris of a particularly American variety, one that exposes the intricate layering of a money-based social system whereby one man’s privilege and entitlement is another man’s guarantee of a never-ending cycle of violence and poverty. At a moment when America is confronting racial tensions and socioeconomic inequity as serious as ever before in the country’s history, the book acts as both a watershed and a bridge to understanding the reality and effects of the ongoing racial and economic stratification of American society.

Savidge is also the producer and distributor of the award-winning 2001 documentary “Welcome to Death Row”. The film and the book – written a decade-and-a-half later – are essential companion pieces, because – while the film is a riveting whodunit documenting the tumultuous rise and fall of an American music phenomenon that changed the world – Savidge kept himself and the incredibly difficult and dangerous process of making the documentary out of the film; the book fills in the gaps and adds details considered too controversial for the film on its release in 2001. Both the film and the book are exceptionally well-done, but the two taken together create a much larger and more complete picture than either does separately. And in this case the filmmaker’s journey is just as key to the overall story as the film’s subject matter, because both stories speak to the racial dynamics at play over the last 50 years, while at the same time illuminating the intersection at which black and white inevitably come together.

S. Leigh SavidgeIn person Savidge is courtly and soft-spoken, and the first question that springs ­­to mind is why on earth would this tall, blue-eyed blond-haired white guy from Seattle spend almost two decades bringing the rise and fall of hip hop’s most notorious and controversial label to light in film and print, risking life, limb and financial ruin along the way? Having established a unique niche for his company, Xenon Films, as a leading distributor of film and video for a young black audience in the 80’s, Savidge felt as if he had an understanding of the world Death Row was rooted in, and he wanted the challenge of bringing that understanding to a wider audience. As he describes it, it also felt like a bit of a dare to him; Death Row was the water cooler topic of the day, as well as being the biggest story in the music industry, and yet there was the sense that it was far too dangerous for anyone to take on. But Savidge was determined, even though – as he freely admits today – at the time he had little actual understanding of the peril and difficulty taking the project on would present. Time and time again, he and his partners felt that they’d made a terrible mistake in trying to make the film, and he despaired of how he would ever get them all out of it intact.

But he never gave up, and that determination speaks to the underlying reasons Savidge wanted to do the film, above and beyond just the challenge aspect. He is modest about the fact that his company was the first to distribute black material, saying that in doing so he was just a businessman who saw a niche that needed to be filled, but one gets the impression from meeting him in person that whatever Savidge undertakes carries some sense of social mission with it, an impression both the book and the film underscore.

Art can be tame and compliant or violent and seditious, and any variation in between. All of it is art, the key being that each variation serves its purpose according to a particular time and place in society. As a student of the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King – with whom he shared an alma mater in Boston University – Savidge felt that the story of Death Row Records was, at its core, the story of non-violent protest through art, in this case music, of poor young inner-city blacks who could, with no assistance from government, social services or legitimate business interests, rise out of their circumstances through unstoppable talent and sheer force of will:

“In my view, the Death Row Records story offered a significant forum for the examination of, and the problems attached to, the transition of inner city kids into positions of economic power in American society. But this was a discussion that virtually no one I knew wanted to hear or see. When I tried to make the connection between Dr. King and the Death Row Records story, people just couldn’t make the leap. I’d remind them that Dr. King’s whole message was about assisting the progress of poor Blacks. This story was about poor Blacks with exceptional talent fighting to take their place at America’s financial table sans the guidance you might get in a normalized corporate structure. What I’d get back from a lot of people both White and Black was that Dr. King would be mortified by the idea of a Tupac Shakur — the underlying implication being that Black progress could only be measured by the number of Black people who took regular jobs and played by society’s rules — by what polite society viewed as appropriate accomplishments. Most of the people we were interviewing had an edge to them. They were angry. The music they were talking about was angry. In their daily lives, they lived in fear. Violence was simply a fact of their lives. They existed in corridors of America where, unless you lived there, you never went there. They lived in a society where great wealth surrounded them and none if it was coming their way. And part of the reason was that there was simply no Steve Jobs overseeing a well-funded infrastructure whose mandate was to help inner city kids elevate their economic station. The job of employing people in the inner city had been left to guys like Harry O (Michael Harris, the incarcerated drug dealer whose money funded the startup of Death Row) who was using proceeds from a drug business to employ Black people in his legitimate businesses. Too many people with wealth, power and influence simply didn’t give a shit. It was axiomatic that if you never went into America’s ghettos, you could never be in position to grasp the issues there. If you didn’t have to look at it, it was an out-of-sight, out-of-mind situation. You didn’t have to see the pain and suffering and the pathology in your own backyard that Dr. King wanted to eradicate. With the Death Row story, you had to look at all of this. You had to look at inner city America in all its raw, jagged glory.” Savidge, S. Leigh (2015-08-14). Welcome to Death Row: The Uncensored History of the Rise & Fall of Death Row Records in the Words of Those Who Were There. (p. 153). Xenon Press.

It was also, in Savidge’s estimation, a cautionary tale of how tremendous success could be gained and squandered in breathtakingly short order.

Documentary CoverThe book covers the same ground as the documentary and the recently released feature “Straight Outta Compton” – which Savidge wrote the first draft of – but in much greater detail. The interviewees in the doc often seemed afraid to elaborate on the more gruesome details of life at Death Row, and the feature – which, while well done, is in every respect a “big G” general audience picture – glosses over the truly ugly side of things and reduces complex characters to thugs (Suge Knight) and artistic savants (Dr Dre). The book, conversely and satisfyingly, gives far more detail and thus a much wider perspective at all levels – personal, social, racial, emotional, financial.

Shooting the documentary was fraught with difficulty from the beginning, and the enormous and often dangerous challenges faced by Savidge and his team during the making of the film are parceled out in terse but telling language. From extortion and armed physical confrontation on the set to legal challenges and death threats, the obstacles Savidge and his crew faced often appeared insurmountable. Savidge felt sufficiently endangered that he essentially put his life on hold for the duration of the project. To wit, a bachelor who under any other circumstance would be considered a pretty eligible catch, Savidge – who is now engaged to be married – eschewed dating for the duration of the project, afraid that anyone who was close to him would be vulnerable to the threats being made against him and his company because of his involvement with the film. At one point he describes a confrontation between himself and Lydia Harris, Michael Harris’ wife – who had showed Savidge and everyone else connected to the project the loaded gun she always carried in her purse – as she demands money to hire a new lawyer to try and get Harris exonerated:

“As I studied Lydia’s ice cold eyes, I felt she could snap at any second. I sensed that this was one of those moments where, if I did one thing, I’d live and if I did another thing I might die. I was not going to gamble with my life. There was no way I was going die on the sidewalk in front of my office . . . That was not going to be how it ended for me. And so a few days later, I wrote Lydia Harris a check for $100,000, modifying my agreement with the Harrises for a fourth time.”

And so it went, until Savidge and his crew despaired of ever coming out the other end of what seemed to be an impossibly long – and very dark – tunnel.

By now the basic beats of the Death Row story are well known. In 1986, small-time dealer Eric “Eazy-E” Wright bankrolled Ruthless Records to distribute records for N.W.A., whose members included himself, Andre “Dr. Dre” Young, O’Shea “Ice Cube” Jackson and Lorenzo “MC Ren” Patterson. Guided by Eazy’s business manager and mentor Jerry Heller, the group had major success, while at the same time generating huge controversy for inflammatory lyrics that appeared to push the limits of free speech. Dre gained a reputation as a producing genius, the creative force who turned everything the others did into gold. When money became an issue – not helped by Heller’s questionable accounting practices – the members went at each other’s throats and the group broke down. Styling himself as a savvy business manager and enforcer, Suge Knight – who learned what he knew about the music business from hovering in the background for years as a bodyguard – convinced Dre to join him in starting Death Row Records. But first, Suge had to secure Dre’s release from Ruthless, and it was here that Suge’s particular brand of business tactics – which would ultimately lead to the fall of the Death Row empire – first revealed themselves.

The story goes that Eazy had to “be persuaded” to release Dre from his contract – i.e., in order to get Eazy to sign Dre’s release, Suge took heavies with baseball bats to the meeting and beat Eazy’s signature out of him. As the late Jeffrey Jolson-Colburn – The Hollywood Reporter’s music critic at the time – states matter-of-factly in the book and the film “From day one, this label was born amidst a controversy that involved violence.”

Death Row had gargantuan success; bought and distributed by Warner-owned Interscope Records, the label generated hundreds of millions of dollars. Suge ruled the company like a brutal mafia don until the street-level thug life Suge allowed to overrun the Death Row offices drove Dre out the door. Suge ended up doing jail time as a direct result of his “business” methods.

In the film Savidge lays out the chronology of the story via interviews with those who were there from the beginning. It’s a effective technique limited only by the fear on the part of the interviewees, which is visible and genuine and certainly informs the story. In the book, on the other hand, Savidge is free to add his own observations and experience, and the additions deepen the story – and the tragedy – many times over. His writing is cogent, unapologetic and direct, a smart, no-holds-barred voice uniquely suited to its subject matter. And it is probably accurate to say that, by waiting nearly fifteen years between shooting the film and writing the book, Savidge has an overarching perspective unlike anyone else’s.

During our interview Savidge made the comparison between the way Death Row was financed – via the money from Michael Harris’ successful drug-dealing operations – and the great American tradition of turning ill-gotten gains into legitimate business empires.

Says Savidge, “He (Michael Harris) is very upfront about how sorry he was over the damage he did with his drug dealing. He always saw it as a short-term thing to seed legitimate businesses – not unlike the Kennedys, the Bronfmans, and so many others who later became pillars of society. That’s just the fabric of the United States. If people want to marginalize or demonize it because it’s happening in South Central – well, it’s the same damn thing. That’s America. And to think that Harry O seeded all the culture-changing power that then came out of the hip hop music business – that makes it an even bigger story.”

The fact that so much time passed between the making of the film and the writing of the book gives the book another special edge; it is when Savidge and Harris come together again during a visit Savidge makes to Lompoc prison more than a decade after the making and release of the documentary, that the many threads comprising the story finally come together. The story of “Harry O” – a man apparently framed by an over-zealous LA detective with a long-time vendetta against him, incarcerated for decades and yet business-savvy and capable enough to move mountains in the outside world – is set against the story of Suge Knight – the beneficiary of Harris’s money and acumen – who had it all, including his freedom, and threw it away through an over-reaching arrogance and hubris worthy of a character in a Shakespearean tragedy, undercutting success by sowing the seeds of his own downfall with virtually every action.

The story is in equal parts moving, disturbing and illuminating. America is at a critical watershed moment; the whole country needs to own and acknowledge the racial and economic inequities that are woven deeply into its DNA. Yes, there is a Black man in the White House, and yes, more and more Black faces appear in public life every year – but the stark realities of the Black kid growing up on the street, the Black/White racial tensions and the drastic economic inequity between classes and races remain much as they were when N.W.A. came blasting out of Compton on a wave of unstoppable energy and raw talent that forever changed American culture, and the world.

In the tradition of American artists and thinkers who told the truth as they saw it, whether or not those insights were popular or financially advantageous, Savidge’s contribution to the country’s current turning point is both estimable and courageous, and as such it deserves a wide audience.

One Year After: The Thrilling Follow-up To The New York Times Bestselling Doomsday Novel One Second After

51Ed1ssu79L._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_New York, NY, August 27, 2015 – Soon to be released from Forge Books in hardcover and e-Book title is One Year After (ISBN 978-0-7653-7670-1; $25.99; Sept. 15, 2015), by William R. Forstchen. Months before publication, One Second After was cited on the floor of Congress as a book all Americans should read. Hundreds of thousands of people have read the tale. One Year After is the thrilling follow-up to that smash hit.

The story picks up a year after One Second After ends, two years since the detonation of nuclear weapons above the United States brought America to its knees. After suffering starvation, war, and countless deaths, the survivors of Black Mountain, North Carolina, are beginning to piece back together the technologies they had once taken for granted: electricity, radio communications, and medications. They cling to the hope that a new national government is finally emerging.

Then comes word that most of the young men and women of the community are to be drafted into an “Army of National Recovery” and sent to trouble spots hundreds of miles away.

When town administrator John Matherson protests the draft, he’s offered a deal: leave Black Mountain and enter national service, and the draft will be reduced. But the brutal suppression of a neighboring community under its new federal administrator and the troops accompanying him suggests that all is not as it should be with this burgeoning government.

William R. Forstchen
William R. Forstchen

William R. Forstchen is the New York Times bestselling author of One Second After—which spent four weeks at #11 on the New York Times bestsellers list for the hardcover edition—among numerous other books in diverse subjects ranging from history to science fiction. He also collaborates on New York Times bestselling novels with Newt Gingrich. Forstchen holds a Ph.D. in history from Purdue University, with specializations in military history and the history of technology. He is currently a faculty fellow and professor of history at Montreat College, near Asheville, North Carolina. The film rights to One Second After have already been optioned by Warner Brothers. Learn more at

KIRKUS Review Just Published!

.. .Shel Silverstein-esque….what unites these poems is not a topic or theme but a tone.
…rhyme schemes are steady, making lap reading pleasant…
A lighthearted collection that sometimes  tackles weightier themes.   – Kirkus Reviews


Five Stars (
out of five)
“Shel Silverstein, A.A. Milne, and Ogden Nash have a sister-in-rhymes named
Martha Sears West
…She focuses on the joy and magic of childhood, and how adults can retain a childlike sense of wonder…an absolute delight!”  – Karen McCarthy, ForeWord Clarion Review

“Wow, it’s great!…it’s not even stupid or anything.”  – Grandson, Age 12

One of Seven Mom’s Choice Awards® For Excellence
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