'Celebrity Autobiography' Roasts Bad Star Books

Article excerpt

NEW YORK (AP) - What's more delicious than reading one of those bizarrely self-centered, poorly written autobiographies by a celebrity? The answer may be adding more stars: Get another celebrity to read it aloud.That's the premise behind "Celebrity Autobiography," a riotous, slightly subversive show with a rotating lineup of famous people who read from the books of such dabbling authors as Justin Bieber, Burt Reynolds, Star Jones, Geraldo Rivera and Tiger Woods.Though some participants take a few creative liberties, for the most part there are no impersonations, props or costumes. Just the carefully selected indulgent words spoken aloud, as if anyone cares about Suzanne Somers' poetry or what order Joan London puts on her clothes in the morning."You just can't believe that somebody wrote this," says "Saturday Night Live" star Rachel Dratch, who has done several "Celebrity Autobiography" shows.Or as Michael Urie, of "Ugly Betty" fame, says: "You can send a monkey out there and it'll be funny."The show, staged once a month in London, Los Angeles and New York, is also currently on the road, with upcoming gigs and different stars appearing in Charlotte, N.C., from Jan. 25-30, Cleveland from Feb. 3-6 and March 10-13; Atlanta on Feb. 19; and Wausau, Wis. on Feb. 25.It's all the brainchild of Eugene Pack, an Emmy Award-nominated writer, producer, actor and playwright who came across the book "Vanna Speaks" by Vanna White a decade ago and laughed as he read a passage in which the "Wheel of Fortune" star insistently pointed out the hardships of flipping letters on national TV.Pack thought it would be even funnier to read such excerpts aloud at a comedy club and soon started going through his thick Rolodex. The show, he says, works best when the juxtaposition of readers and text is carefully calibrated.So he'll ask Dick Cavett to read from a Jonas Brothers book, Brooke Shields will get Suzanne Somers' early poems and Richard Kind gives voice to "Vanna Speaks" as if it were "King Lear." Just about anyone can get a laugh with Kenny Loggins' love letters, including the immortal line, "I want to let your love open me like an envelope."It's not intended to be cruel, says Pack. "Hopefully, you see the creativity and the artfulness behind it, as opposed to we're just going up saying, 'Aren't these celebrities crazy?'"That skill is evident when a group of stars take turns reading sections of related memoirs, such as the love triangle that ensnared Eddie Fisher, Elizabeth Taylor and Debbie Reynolds. …