Customer Reviews: Inside Inside
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on November 4, 2007
I respectfully disagree with the reviewers above. In addition to being a fan of Inside the Actors Studio, I'm a fan of James Lipton's. His love of language was legendary before Inside - this is, after all, the author of An Exhaultation of Larks which celebrates the richness of the English language so well it's been in print for something near 40 years. Yes,Inside Inside is written using words that aren't as commonly encountered today as they once were. I consider it a treat to find them tucked into what I regard as his very readable prose.

Mr. Lipton has led a fascinating life and I'm glad he's shared it with readers. His show doesn't settle for trite interviews featuring anecdotes rather than thoughtful content and I was pleased to find his book didn't either. Perhaps the title should have indicated the breadth of the book rather than focus on the show, but, since he was the creator of the series, knowing his story does put you Inside Inside. If you want a simple book about actors, you'd do better elsewhere, but if you want a visit with an interesting man who has talked with many of the greats about their passion for their craft, this is a fine choice for you.
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on October 25, 2007
This isn't really an inside look at "Inside the Actor's Studio." It's an inside look at James Lipton, with occasional tales about the show and the actors who've graced its stage.

On the tv show "Inside the Actor's Studio," James Lipton comes across as pompous and pedantic and far too impressed with himself. This impression is only reinforced by this book, where Lipton manages to quote Charles Dickens, Chaucer, Moby Dick, John Donne, Yeats, Coleridge, Robert DeNiro, Orson Welles, and Irving Berlin and refer to DW Griffith, Renoir, Eisenstein, Scorsese, Spielberg, W. C. Fields, James Bond, Fellini, Marcello Mastrioanni, Will Ferrell and more in just the first five pages. Lipton's linguistic showing off gets tiresome quickly. It doesn't support him as a story-teller; it just makes Lipton sound like he's trying much too hard to sound clever.

Which isn't to say that Lipton is not intelligent. As he goes through the history of acting theory and of the Actor's Studio, it's apparent that Lipton is thoughtful and insightful about his world. He sees common themes among different people, and he knows how to bring them together and display them in the context of the performing arts world. That ability -- one of the strengths of Inside the Actor's Studio -- is at work here, too. But this book would have been so much stronger if he'd gotten himself out of the way, even a bit.

Indeed, while promising that the book won't be about him as much as "the vibrant troop of other people who have quickened the most exciting adventures of my life," Lipton goes on at far too great a length about himself. As with Inside the Actor's Studio, the high points of this book are the words and stories told by guests on show -- their words, not Lipton's. The low points are Lipton's floridly written tales of his own life.

Still, if you can skim through (or skip over) those parts, the book is worth reading as a collection of reflections by some of the most talented actors of our time. Here, Lipton collects their comments thematically, which provides for interesting and enjoyable contrast. And, as on the tv show, hearing these artists talk about how they approach the art and craft in their work is fascinating and enlightening.
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on May 28, 2008
I heard James Lipton interviewed by Elvis Mitchell on KCRW's The Treatment (broadcast March 19, 2008). Lipton was promoting Inside Inside. The interview made me want to buy the book. When I visited Amazon to make the hardcover purchase the reader reviews were rather unkind and I thought, unfair. The theme of the complaints seemed to be that the book centered too much on Lipton and not enough on the show Inside The Actors Studio or on the stars who'd graced the show. Well after hearing that interview with Lipton on The Treatment, I came away understanding that Lipton's book was about himself and the different people and events that had influenced him. People who purchased the book thinking it was about something else perhaps did not bother to listen to Lipton before purchasing the book. James Lipton is a good story teller and at age 80 he has some good stories to tell. His classical education shows itself in his facility with language and in the themes around which he groups his essays. There are those who state that Inside Inside is too centered on Lipton as if that is a detriment instead of an asset. Lipton has had a rich life and he has met quite a few interesting characters outside of the well-knowns he's interviewed on the show. The manner in which he introduces you to these characters and allows you to get to know them through his memories is quite engaging. Still, this book may not be engaging for everyone. Before purchasing Inside Inside, or any book for that matter, I would suggest sampling one chapter of the book. If you would like an audio sample of Chapter 6 of Inside Inside you may search Y-o-u T-u-b-e for the ISBN-13 number for Inside Inside. The number is 978-052595035.
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on October 28, 2007
This book struggles with every problem mentioned in the "too much of Lipton" review, and then some. Not only is the first 1/3 to 1/2 of the book almost strictly about Lipton, his stories are so buried in flowery, pompous prose that it's hard to understand what he's talking about.

The rest of the book, while somewhat entertaining, is perhaps the most poorly edited book I've ever read. There is no flow, and apparently no rhyme or reason as to which guests and Lipton anecdotes are paired up in the various chapters. One passage begins with the interview with Michael Caine, then abruptly shifts to a discussion of how an appearance on the show can help to garner an Oscar nod. This happens constantly throughout the book, and is enough to give you literary whiplash.

Much of the book is basically a transcript of snippets of interviews, interspersed with anecdotes designed to make Lipton appear charming, clever, or a powerful member of Hollywood's inner circle.

All in all, entertaining enough if you enjoy watching the show, but if you've watched the show, you won't get much new info about the guests. If you want to read endless drivel about Lipton, you've found the book for you!
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on December 27, 2007
A lot of people will feel cheated - misled by the title of the book. As others on Amazon mention, too much of this book is just about Lipton writing about himself and glorifying his own "achievements," - for example, going into great detail about his arranging the Bob Hope birthday TV specials and Jimmy Carter's TV inaugural special. Boringly great detail, in my view -- the book has about 500 pages -- I'm now on page 254, where he apparently finally now starts to write about the Actors Studio in detail. (As someone else wrote, start with chapter 11 and skim the first half of the book.) I enjoy the Actors Studio interviews very much, and Lipton does a good job, there. This book should have a warning on the cover, though, that at least half of the book is not about The Actors Studio at all. Besides giving us lots of detail about his minor achievements, Lipton has the irritating habit of "place-dropping" - not just telling us that something happened, but being sure to tell us the name of the exclusive hotel in Paris where he had his honeymoon, being sure to mention "our table at Elaine's," where a conversation took place, "our summer home in the Hamptons" where another conversation took place, his friend George Plimpton, whose parties "were legendary," etc etc. Using superlatives about everybody and everything. Pages 201 to 241 are all about how he arranged the TV shows for Bob Hope's birthdays. (40 pages of a book called "Inside Inside.") ("Three times the birhday show was at the top of the week's Nielsen ratings; it was in the top-five six times and in the top-fifteen ten times," he makes sure to tell us.) Irritating self-praise that goes on much too much. What he did WAS interesting - the way he writes about himself for 254 pages becomes irritating. He did need a better editor for this book. (I still find his interviews fascinating, though!)
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on November 8, 2007
The Lipton we see on Inside the Actors Studio is transparently the man who wrote this sometimes surprising, sometimes tiresome, sometimes funny book.

It has all of his faults and all of his virtues, and sometimes they are one and the same. I believe Lipton is, at bottom, the ultimate fan. Enthusiasm such as his can sometimes be likable, and he has a perceptive thing or two to say about actors and acting.

But such enthusiasm can also cross the line into undiscerning fawning and in this book, as on his series, Lipton too often crosses that line.

His other great Achilles' heel, no one who watches the series will be surprised to learn, is his vanity.

Here is a man who has led a genuinely storied life and accomplished much that would be enviable. Unfortunately, not enough of his anecdotes about that life are as fun to read as they should be.

Lipton simply cannot seem to get out of his own way.
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on June 9, 2013
James Lipton is highly regarded in the field of entertainment. Many view Inside the Actors Studio as merely a show that interviews actors, it's much more than that. The students of Pace University major in writing, directing, acting, screen writing etc. When an actor such as Barbra Streisand or George Clooney are aired the research that James Lipton goes through to find every fascinating detail makes the show a success. I'm a great admirer of James Lipton and find each interview that spills over to the students question/answer period fascinating. Many also think that this program is an hour and then the actor leaves but they don't, they stay and in five hours of interviewing, students get to ask questions something not seen on television. Excellent program and fascinating book. Buy it!
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on November 21, 2007
On page one Chapter One James Lipton plays coy and makes the reader believe that this book is going to be about someone other than himself. Don't believe it for one second! In fact, for the majority of the book it seems as though he begrudgingly throws in a mention or two of guests on the show before getting back to what he really wants to do--write about himself. It's like an editor tapped him on the shoulder and said, "Um, James, would you mind at least MENTIONING 'Inside the Actor's Studio' at some point so we can move this monster?"

I was hoping for stories about what happened before or after the show or those moments that ended up on the editing room floor (I still can't believe Meryl Streep only got an hour!). If you're like me these things can be found in small doses in this Ode to Lipton. Readers open your hymnals near the end of Chapter Eleven and enjoy what I see as the genuine beginning of a book that can rightfully call itself Inside Inside.
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on August 5, 2013
This is exactly the book you would think James Lipton would write. It is full of detail and how he came to sit in the interviewer's chair on the Actor's Studio. Not a quick read but if you like the TV show, you are likely to enjoy this book.
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on August 16, 2008
I loved this book!!! James Lipton can write and does indeed write extremely well. The first half is indeed more autobiographical in nature but is a very interesting behind the scenes story of his life and art. Mr. Lipton includes plenty of self-congratulation, but contrary to some reviews, which made the book much more interesting for me.

Most of the last half is about "Inside the Actor's Studio", a TV-series that I never missed once I discovered it. I ran into a dozen or so passes that were quite moving as I read this book. I highly recommend the book for anyone who enjoyed the series and/or finds James Lipton to be an interesting fellow.

Just ignore the title and expect more than just about going Inside "Inside the Actor's Studio". If you only want the TV series part, read chapters 11-17 and view the photo section. Be warned, however, that you will miss some real nuggets.

What I wished he had included (think future edition) is a list of the 200 or so guests who appeared on "Inside the Actor's Studio", in order, in an appendix.
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