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As this is my most deeply intimate and personal diary, I am assuming that it will one day be introduced into evidence at my trial. Paul Rudnick was involved with some very funny movies, but I had never heard his name. Frankly, even if I had, it might not have helped. There is a long chapter devoted to his involvement with Sister Act, but his name does not appear when I check my source for all things movie-related, IMDb. Still, he tells great stories about bringing the original treatment of Sister Act to producer Scott Rudin and how they originally met with Disney, and snagged Bette Midler in the lead role.

A host of meetings later, this nice Jewish boy was on his way to a convent in rural Connecticut for some hands-on research.

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Renting a wonderful Gothic apartment that was once the retreat of John Barrymore inspired a play, I Hate Hamlet, about a young actor living in the same apartment, working on the role of Hamlet and being visited by the ghost of John Barrymore. The downfall of the entire play is choosing Nicol Williamson — an unfamiliar name but a very familiar face — to play Barrymore.

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He gives Allan Carr much the same treatment — Carr is a flamboyant, extravagant character, and Rudnick knows him in both high times and hard times. The story of Elyot Vionnet is the very best sort of dark, sarcastic humor. His campaign to make Hallie Tesler stop talking on her cell phone is utterly ruthless — and it does not have quite the intended effect. His stint as Mr. Christmas and his various holiday visitations require a certain sense of style:.

I instantly donned my tuxedo, a garment which still appears sleek and fresh, although it has been passed down through over eighty generations of Vionnet men, and, of course, Great Aunt Vestra Vionnet, who wore the family tux to bewitch half the women of Bucharest.


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That certainly would have been a very different film, and probably a better one. But I've read this before: Joan Didion dissected working with a diva in her definitive essay on her butchered screenplay for the Streisand remake of "A Star Is Born.

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And that's exactly the problem with "I Shudder. His descriptions of Allan Carr and Scott Rudin make them look like all the other self-consciously larger-than-life, outsized Hollywood mogul types, from David Selznick and Harry Cohn to Harvey Weinstein.

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Speaking of remakes, instead of a blow-by-blow about the making of "The Addams Family" fun but hardly a landmark film or "In and Out" ditto , what would have been really interesting is Rudnick's version of what Paramount did to his script of "The Stepford Wives" to end up with such a mega-disaster. His opening essay on his early life in New York and his parents and their siblings is a loving tribute, and one of the more charming pieces. And his end piece, on the talented Broadway costume designer William Ivey Long's days in the Chelsea Hotel, is a fond reminiscence of those days when Manhattan was still inhabited by the young, poor but ambitious.


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  • A retired substitute teacher living in a tiny rent-controlled studio in the no-name, no-personality neighborhood east of Manhattan's Gramercy Park, Rudnick's Vionnet is a recognizable type--the self-styled aesthete. A sort of Quentin Crisp wannabe, Vionnet plots the destruction of an annoying neighbor always on her cell phones a complaint that now seems so ; he married a woman implausible in the extreme ; and discusses his variable sex life.


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    As a friend said after watching the film "Trainspotting," "Two hours is a lot of time to spend with those people. By far the most enjoyable piece is the one on the still-infamous Broadway meltdown of Rudnick's play "I Hate Hamlet.

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    Speaking of plays, what I really missed was any mention of the one Rudnick work that is truly world-historical, "Jeffrey. Although he does briefly talk about the epidemic with an appreciated nod to one of my best friends, the late eccentric novelist Christopher Coe , he skips over that part of his life.

    He also glosses over his own love life, only mentioning in passing his former boyfriend. Nor do we get much about Fire Island Pines, where Rudnick now owns a home; he wrote a brilliant short essay on the place for New York Magazine a few years back that I would have loved to see expanded. Such ellipses may tell the reader more than what's inside.