Authors in L.A. this week: Matty Simmons, Julie Andrews
Author events this week in the Los Angeles area are especially rich, offering something for nearly every taste (YA, crime thrillers, science, myth, lifestyle, Hollywood and more). Though the top headliners must surely be Julie Andrews, Rodney King and James Ellroy (teaming up with Helen Knode), let's shine the spotlight on something else -- an event featuring Matty Simmons.
Don't know the name? Simmons was co-producer, with Ivan Reitman, of that charming, gentle tale of youthful mischief on a fictional college campus, the 1978 movie "Animal House." That movie produced many nuggets of wisdom, including the one that gives Simmons the title of his memoir: "Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son."
"Fat, Drunk and Stupid" contains plenty of behind-the-scenes details, like this one about the origins of the scene in which a folk singer (played by Stephen Bishop) has his guitar smashed by John Belushi:
Bishop was another who came to the movie as an 'FOL,' or Friend of Landis. He would eventually write the theme song for the movie. The song that Bishop sings as Bluto walks down the stairs, "I Gave My Love a Cherry," is more than 600 years old. We picked it because we had no money left to pay additional music royalties, and being that old, the song is in the public domain. It also was the perfect song to elicit Bluto's reaction, the smashing of the guitar that was a complete surprise to Bishop, who admitted later that it freaked him out.
Maybe Simmons will share more stories like this one at his event this week.
As a reminder, make sure to check with stores (especially Vroman's for the Andrews and Ellroy/Knode events) on event locations and any changes to venue or time.
4/30 7 p.m. Rodney King signs “The Riot Within: My Journey from Rebellion to Redemption” at Esowon Bookstore.
4/30 7:30 p.m. Madeline Miller reads and signs her novel “Song of Achilles” at Skylight Books.
5/1 7 p.m. Leonard Mlodinow discusses and signs “Subliminal” at Vroman’s Bookstore.
5/1 7 p.m. Devan Sipher discusses and signs “The Wedding Beat: A Novel” at Book Soup.
5/2 6 p.m. Trenton Lee Stewart discusses and signs “The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict” at Vroman’s Bookstore.
5/2 7 p.m. Vinny G discusses and signs “Control the Crazy: My Plan to Stop Stressing, Avoid Drama, and Maintain Inner Cool” at Book Soup.
5/2 7:30 p.m. Apocalypse Noir: Helen Knode in conversation with James Ellroy about her novel “Wildcat Play” at Skylight Books.
5/3 Elizabeth Goldsmith signs “The King's Mistresses” at Chevalier’s Books.
5/3 7 p.m. Helen Knode discusses and signs “Wildcat Play,” joined by mystery great James Ellroy, who will also discuss "The Hilliker Curse" at Vroman’s Bookstore. Important: Check with store about event location.
5/3 7 p.m. Julie Andrews signs “The Very Fairy Princess: Here Comes the Flower Girl!” at Vroman’s Bookstore. Important: Check with store about event location.
5/3 7 p.m. Allison Samuels signs “What Would Michelle Do? A Modern-day Guide to Living with Substance and Style” at Esowon Bookstore.
5/3 7 p.m. Matty Simmons discusses and signs “Fat, Drunk, and Stupid: The Inside Story Behind the Making of Animal House” at Book Soup.
5/3 7:30 p.m. Seth Greenland reads and signs his novel “The Angry Buddhist” at Skylight Books.
5/4 7 p.m. Harriett Bronson discusses and signs “Charlie & Me” at Vroman’s Bookstore.
5/4 7 p.m. Charles Rosenberg discusses and signs “Death on a High Floor: A Legal Thriller” at Book Soup.
5/4 7:30 p.m. Issue-release party for Slake No. 4 at Atwater Crossing (tickets required for admission).
5/5 2 p.m. Helen Knode discusses and signs “Wildcat Play: A Mystery” at Book Soup.
5/5 4 p.m. Bart Edelman discusses and signs “The Geographer's Wife” at Vroman’s Bookstore.
5/5 5 p.m. James Riley reads and signs his middle readers novel “Twice Upon a Time” at Skylight Books.
-- Nick Owchar
Photo: From left, Tom Hulce, John Belushi and Stephen Furst in the movie "National Lampoon's Animal House." Credit: Universal Studios