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As an interviewer, Grobel always does extensive research on his subject beforehand, earning him the respect of both celebrities and the media alike. In these stories, he combines background information, biographical notes and sections of the interview itself, giving a well-rounded understanding of his subject. Since he's personal friends with many of these people, it's easy to get them to talk, often over dinner at his home. This helps to make his reports more intimate.
A good example of this is reflected in the selection about Anthony Kiedis. He's known him since he was two, having met his father Blackie when they were both still in college, and Blackie's womanizing was legendary. So it's not surprising that Tony spoke openly about his Dad's insatiable drive for sex, and his habit of sometimes sharing his women with his son. He says that desensitized him, and made him fear love and commitment to a single woman. A different interviewer may not have been able to get such candid revelations.
Nicole Kidman was also comfortable with him when she revealed, "I read D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover when I was a kid. And my dad would take me to modern dance, where the dancers were totally naked. I'd be sitting next to my dad when I was nine or ten and fully grown men would be walking around naked. He told me to just accept it for what it was."
And Cameron Diaz told him, "'I was a wild child, wild like an animal. I had all this uncurbed energy. When I was little people called me `Skeletor' because I was so skinny. I took it as a challenge and would lift boys twice my size to prove how strong I was. I probably have a lot of testosterone for a woman. I had no style. I was the tough kid with the comb in the back pocket and the feathered hair.'"
In each chapter, Grobel often includes commentary from a co-star, director or producer. Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz starred together in Blow and subsequently Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, so Grobel adds this to his report: "'A lot of things can be said about Penelope,' Depp said. `None of them are bad. She's the dysfunctional Bacall to my twisted Bogart.' Then, making reference to Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable in Gone with the Wind, `She's the otherworldly Scarlett to my clueless Rhett.' And continuing, with a gender twist on the loveable I Love Lucy characters, `She's Ricky to my Lucy.'"
These excerpts are typical of the candor Grobel is able to elicit from these often secretive stars. If you enjoy reading about the private lives and feelings of thirteen of the Rich and Famous, this book is a must-have. But for everyone else, it offers a cool baker's dozen of engaging yet diverse stories of the human spirit. I'm not into star-gazing, but I really found this book refreshing.