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Intimacies: Private Conversations With Very Public Women
by Alan Ebert
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Rating:
Reviewed by: Norman Goldman

Alan Ebert, a well-known and respected celebrity interviewer, has put together a compilation of thirty-eight interviews he had conducted with many famous female personalities in a book entitled Intimacies: Private Conversations with Very Public Women.

These interviews were published over a period of thirty years in some of the most popular publications as Good Housekeeping, US, Ladies Home Journal, Parade, Essence, and Cosmopolitan. They involved such personalities as Oprah Winfrey, Ann Landers, Kim Novak, Diana Ross, Joanne Woodward, Beverly Sills, and Ali McGraw.

The difficulty of this type of a book is to present the topic in a manner that is more or less contemporary. How do you interest your audience when the interview had been conducted, in some instances, over 30 years ago?

To a certain extent the author cleverly succeeds in maintaining our interest by the "no-holds-barred" comments he makes at the end of some of the articles that more or less bring us up to date as well as reveal to us some of the pressure tactics he had to endure.

As an example, when he interviewed Oprah Winfrey in 1991, the author states, "my in-person experience with Oprah was only positive. It was only after I had some problems with her behavior." He goes on to explain that Oprah called him after the interview and requested that the statement she made to him "I can be a real bitch" not be included in the article. Her publicist and the magazine that published the article, Good Housekeeping, also applied pressure. The latter was only interested in doing further Oprah interviews. As a result, Ebert had to drop the comments from his article.

Unfortunately, however, Ebert is not consistent in using this technique. In certain instances we are left with the impression that the interview has become stale. I would have liked to see some follow ups, such as to the Beverly Sills interview that took place in 1977. Is Beverly still married to the same man, Peter Greenough? What happened to their daughter Muffy who was born deaf or their son Bucky who was born retarded? All of these details were significantly mentioned in the article.

The ending of the book contains an epilogue where the author writes a brief autobiography of himself. He also mentions other celebrities whom he has met through the years who have had some impact on his life and career.

Although the book will not earn a Pulitzer Prize for English Literature, it still is entertaining. It is a "good fun read," particularly if you are interested in what makes some of these personalities "tick."


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