June 11, 2006

Wives of CBS “Book Club” must be really desperate

By Barry Garron

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Somewhere in Scottsdale,
Ariz., you should be able to get a good deal on used books that
are practically new. That is because the seven female members
of the "Tuesday Night Book Club" have about as much interest in
books as "American Idol" has in mimes.

Still, the pretext of getting together for literary
purposes has its uses. Chief among them is that it makes for a
convenient way to open each week's episode.

"Book Club" is one of those "wink, wink, nudge, nudge"
series. You know, the kind that promote themselves as giving
unvarnished looks into real-life issues facing women in a
variety of situations but that mostly exist to exploit them.

Forget about probing hearts and minds, as they do with
honesty and sensitivity in such programs as PBS Frontline's
"The Farmer's Wife" or "Country Boys." Forget about getting
under the skin of subjects, as in the "American High" series or
the documentary "Hoop Dreams." In "Book Club," skin isn't for
getting under; it's for showing off.

Like other unscripted shows about "real" people, "Book
Club" wants us to believe that the women (and family members
who allow themselves to be seen) are largely unaffected by the
camera crews in close proximity.

That is asking a lot, considering that credits include a
makeup artist, a set designer and a director. You sort of
suspect that some of these "friends" might have gotten quick
promotions from "acquaintances" at the behest of the producers.

So what kinds of problems beset these beautifully coiffed
and universally attractive book readers? Pretty much the usual.
Lynn and her husband are newlyweds but they bicker like
seasoned veterans.

Jamie has been cheating on her husband throughout her
six-year marriage and thinks maybe it is time to just dump him.
Cris has been loyal to her husband, a recovering alcoholic, and
he, in turn, puts up with a menagerie of pets big enough for
two petting zoos.

Kirin, the doctor's wife, doesn't have a good crisis other
than, according to the "Desperate Housewives"-sounding
narrator, "having a husband who's not in tune with her

Start a club for that sort of thing and you'll need
Cardinals Stadium for meetings. Sara, who is single, and Jenn,
the trophy wife, don't have big problems but they have sex
lives. That's good enough for "Book Club."

The music is a little too self-important but the editing is
superb, and director Tony Sacco effortlessly captures the women
emoting at the right places and times.

We used to ask why people submit to such flagrant
violations of their privacy. We now accept that the chance to
get one's face on TV, be it on "The Jerry Springer Show" or
"Wife Swap" or "Book Club," is worth any price.

Ours is not to reason why. Ours is to join the line at
Television City for the bookmark licensing rights.


Cris, Sara, Jenn, Jamie, Kirin, Lynn and Tina, all as

Executive producers: Jay Blumenfield, Tony Marsh;
Co-executive producer: Brianna Bruderlin; Supervising producer:
Corie Henson; Producer: Jeff Anderson; Line producer: Jonah
McMichael; Producers: Patrick Backmann, Susie Belava, Dean
Ollins, Melanie C. Switzer; Director: Tony Sacco; Director of
photography: Mark "Ninja" Lynch; Editors: Pierre Dwywer, J.L.
Emerson, David Harris, Nena Hsu, Ricky Kreitman, Joe Lewis,
e.t., Ten Woerner; Music: Christopher Brady; Set designer:
Claude Venezia; Casting: Lynne Spillman.

Produced by the Jay and Tony Showfor Magic Molehill
Productions Inc.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter