If Penny Marshall's honking nasalese leaps off the pages of her memoir, My Mother was Nuts, it's not because she wrote the book. Rather, this is the work of a ghost writer, the best in the business, Todd Gold, said Marshall's literary agent Daniel Strone of this well-known secret. If he is writing Ann-Margret, he revealed, he's playing the piano. If it's Penny, he's smoking and sipping martinis. He's a chameleon. He's Zelig.
This reporter is not spilling beans, simply separating the literary from the likes of celebrity memoirs, which have to be coaxed, cajoled, and bought into being. If I feared the demise of "the book" for the more ephemeral cyber publishing, Dan Strone assures me, there will always be a demand for celebrity memoirs, and none of their sort will spill their story for free. Whew! At least one book genre is here to stay.
Meantime, Penny Marshall, colored glasses sliding down her nose and athletic in high topped sneakers, flitted about The Monkey Bar, greeting Lorne Michaels, Art Garfunkel, Carol Kane, Steve Kroft, Gayle King, Regis Philbin who joked with photographers that his next move was replacing Anderson Cooper. Television personalities galore attended the Peggy Siegal Company party, including Anjelika Huston, in town filming the new season of Smash, and Kyle MacLachlan who plays the head of a law firm on the upcoming Made in Jersey. Who knew that Penny was writing a memoir, he exclaimed.
A funny page-turner with ample anecdotes about acting in the classic Laverne & Shirley, for example, and the casting of A League of Their Own: why Debra Winger quit and Geena Davis came in, the book tells how Marshall finessed the chemistry between Rosie O'Donnell and Madonna. A "miscarriage" who stubbornly hung onto life, according to her dance teacher mom, Marshall laughs through some heavy themes including cancer.
I wanted to ask Penny about the process of working with her ghost writer, but she was pulled away by handlers for a photo op with newly arrived Mariah Carey. Marshall's best bud Ron Perelman had some tables reserved for dinner and the ladies retreated to join him, already seated with Fran Lebowitz and a few other insiders.
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.