HarperCollins, £10.99, ISBN 0-00-712767-7
How nice. So Matt Beaumont is still writing, and here I thought that guy has gone back to the world of advertising, upon which his ex-colleagues must have lynched him or something. Now he’s back with a book that has an anatomically-correct monkey on the cover. The Book, the Film, the T-shirt one ups his debut e. – this baby sees the world of advertising colliding with the world of showbiz, with disastrous results.
This is an ensemble book as much as a gimmicky one, in which every one of the cast takes turns giving a first person view of things happening when the ad company Fuller Scheidt (I’m not making this up!) attempts to film American tire company Blackstock’s premiere British ad. But they have to bring in two prima-donna estranged lovers to play the lead, and full havoc is unleashed. Incompetence, sex misadventures, sabotage, envy – you name it, it’s probably in here.
There’s the ad big guy in charge of this, George Fuller, he of the roving eye and inept leadership. His roving eye (and other parts of his anatomy) is slowing driving his wife Carrie into psychoville, especially when six-month pregnant Carrie begins conversing with her smart-ass unborn baby nicknamed, uh, Unborn Baby. Nancy Stark, George’s personal assistant, is too smart for her boss’s crap, but she isn’t above sneaking some time off on company money. Then there’s Toddy Gluck, the producer, an over-ambitious woman who will claw and sleep her way to the top, or to a full-blown meltdown, whichever comes first. Bob Bull is the crazy American who believes his BS has a far more humane and noble cause than anything – a sucker right down to the bulbous tip.
From the actress’s entourage, there’s the actress, Rebecca Richards. But she doesn’t tell her story here. No, it’s her people who do the telling: Veronica D, the sassy no-nonsense hairdresser and confidante of Rebecca and Tish Wilkie, a personal assistant who is also a fangirl whose hypocritical facade is masked under fickle and insincere adulation. The actor is Joe Shirer, but it is his right-hand guy Tim Lelyveldt who does the talking.
Rounding up the cast are the not-so-innocent bystanders: Yasmin Fish, the young girl who has no idea what she is getting into when she signs up to be the runner on the set, Norman the Cook, Tyrone Edwards the failed and pathetic drug smuggler, and Kevin French, the prima donna director who believes that he is shooting art, not a crappy tire ad.
From Rebecca’s airport arrest for drug possession to her onset bickering with her ex Joe to Joe’s outrageous prima donna demands that will make even J Lo blanch to persistent rumors of Joe’s (non-existent) package, it’s a downhill free fall all the way, and Matt Beaumont won’t have it any other way. This is a loud-out-funny, hilarious, crass, and vulgar read, but how can it not be with lines like “… that moment will be about as welcome as sitting on a plane and hearing Osama bin Laden’s voice announce, ‘This is your captain speaking.”
If there’s a flaw in this book, it’s that it’s actually a not very original rehash of the usual “fame sucks” theme. Unlike e., where every character has a distinct voice, the cast here can be a bit hard to tell apart at first. Have you ever seen a wisecracking chef like Norman? Me neither, although his bizarro feud with the “metabolic therapist” is hilarious.
Also, while e is very effective because every character is a very recognizable office figure (come on, you’ve had your share of evil bosses and lousy colleagues, admit it), adding to the enjoyment factor of that book, The Book, the Film, the T-shirt is less effective because the characters are stereotypes not of real life but out of a tabloid or a Jackie Collins novel. Hollywood types are weird and crazy? Tell me something I don’t know.
Nonetheless, this book still manages to pack in the funnies. Matt Beaumont, that sadistic bastard, really knows how to make his lovably loathsome characters funny, nasty, and doing the downward spiral crap with style. Everyone goes down in flames spectacularly here, and it’s a free-for-all laugh-a-minute for me, the lucky reader.
Now all we need is the movie version of the book. Anybody?
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