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Off the Record: A Reporter Unveils the Celebrity Worlds of Hollywood, Hip-hop, and Sports Paperback – January 2, 2008
From Publishers Weekly
On the evening following the 1996 acquittal of Snoop Dogg on charges of murder, Newsweek entertainment writer Samuels attended a party thrown by the rapper, where an "obviously drunk fifty-something white male took the microphone... and began to deliver an ill-advised and unfortunate freestyle rap." Upon closer examination, she identified the man as one of the jurors who had granted the musician his freedom that morning. Moments like this abound in Samuels's casual, honest rumination on her career reporting on black Hollywood. Her short chapters include profiles of athletes, actors and musicians such as Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Angela Bassett, Denzel Washington, Whitney Houston and the artists of Suge Knight's Death Row record label, a group with which Samuels established a close, long-running relationship. The challenges of fame, success and journalism are touched upon, though only superficially. While the issue of race is given attention, the collection's main draw is the insider observations and anecdotes, which range from telling (in response to being told that an article featuring him is no longer front-page material, a precomeback Eddie Murphy asks, "But don't they remember?") to bizarre (Mike Tyson showing off the letters JFK Jr. wrote him during his incarceration). (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
As a reporter with Newsweek, Samuels' coverage of stars in sports and entertainment has more than the requisite adoration of entertainment journalists. In this behind-the-scenes look at celebrity coverage, Samuels reveals as much about her techniques and thoughts on celebrity journalism as about the subjects themselves. As a black reporter, often covering black celebrities, she reveals the drawbacks and benefits of her sex and race--the disdain of white executives and the access afforded to lower-level behind-the-scenes workers from secretaries to janitors. She recalls coverage of the short life of rap star Tupac Shakur and the impact of her hip-hop coverage on her own career in other venues. Samuels recounts the difficulty of getting to know L.A. Lakers star Kobe Bryant, even before the rape allegation that threatened his career, and the contrasting charm of Bryant's nemesis, Shaquille O'Neal. Among the other stars Samuels has interviewed are Denzel Washington, Eddie Murphy, and Whitney Houston. Readers interested in celebrity journalism will find this an appealing look at the stars and one reporter who covers them. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
A fearless writer, unafraid to take a jab or two at the mighty and the dangerously sensitive, Samuels uses her 13 years of experience covering the entertainment industry to reveal the surprisingly contradictory personality traits of her subjects. Here you will read about
∑ How the late rapper Tupac Shakur was transformed from an ambitious, sweet, well-read, former ballet dancer to frightening thug, once he was recruited by record executive, Marion "Suge" Knight;
∑ How NBA all-star Kobe Bryant immaturely alienated himself from his Lakers teammates and in the process destroyed his own reputation and his relationship with Shaquille O'Neal by foolishly believing he did not need the guidance and advice of NBA veterans;
∑ How actress Halle Berry offended Whoopi Goldberg when she tearfully accepted her Oscar win for best actress without acknowledging the African-American women who had won before her, including Hattie McDaniel and Goldberg; and
∑ How Mike Tyson is extraordinarily generous, perhaps because as the author notes it is his way of coping "in a world that had not given him very much in the way of kindness or sympathy."
Plus there are other fascinating profiles of Angela Bassett, Denzel Washington, Dr. Dre, Snopp Dogg, Eddie Murphy, Bill Cosby, Ray Lewis, Allen Iverson, Tyra Banks, Lil' Kim, Suge Knight, Coretta Scott King and Malcolm Shabazz.
- Regina McMenamin
A definite must read for future journalists, The Sex In The City Crowd, or just enquiring minds who tire of fluff pieces on celebrites.