Recently, fourteen Hollywood writers banded together to write an anthology of short stories they’re calling LOVE AND OTHER DISTRACTIONS! The proceeds from said tome benefit my purr-sonal favorite charity, you guessed it – KIDS NEED TO READ!
We’ll be talking with these writers over the next few weeks – and first up…SHELLY GOLDSTEIN!
Shelly Goldstein is a writer/performer/rock-’n-roll historian, who has written for every genre of TV, film and stage. Her one-woman shows have played to sell-out crowds throughout the U.S. and U.K. She and Brendan Foley recently completed the pilot Dr. Feelgood for Denmark’s Monday Productions and TV 3. They also co-created the children’s animated series Shelldon that ran on NBC from 2009-2012 and still airs in 40 countries around the world. Their pop-music animated series Flying With Byrd currently airs in Asia.
She has written sitcoms, dramas, lyrics, documentaries, animation, award shows, jokes and special material for such performers as Steve Martin, Sharon Stone, Justin Timberlake, Jane Fonda, Jimmy Fallon, Garry Marshall, Sean Penn, Michael Caine, Anne Hathaway, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, the cast of Glee and Yoko Ono.
Shelly is a proud, self-proclaimed Beatles nerd who has hosted radio shows about the Fab Four in the U.S. and England and has been invited to lecture about their influence on music and culture throughout the U.S.
And now…I interview Shelly!
R: Meow, welcome Shelly! Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became interested in writing.
S: Rocco, I began writing as soon as I learned how to write. I wrote my first play at 7. I started writing song lyrics around the same time. I’m a performer-singer as well as a writer. Writing and performing have always walked hand-in-hand with me. Part of the fun of writing a screenplay or a story is in your head you get to play all the parts.
R: How did you hear about Kids Need to Read? Tell us a bit about your short in this anthology.
S: I was very fortunate in that I was raised by parents who encouraged reading, learning and curiosity. I also had teachers who encouraged reading and storytelling. It wasn’t something I ever really thought about growing up. Books, newspapers, stories, libraries, imagination were a part of life.
We don’t live in that sort of world anymore.
And while I can appreciate that ways of obtaining information evolve over decades, I think children are at a serious disadvantage when they grow up getting their vocabulary and frames of reference only from the internet, gaming and TV.
It’s been said a million times, but books literally give you the world. Too many people – young and old – live lives carefully orchestrated to keep them in a bubble.
Books teach children about people around the world – and across town – whose lives are very different from the lives they lead. Books also teach you how much in common you have with someone who lives a continent away.
Books fuel your imagination, teach you to think, to communicate and to dream.
It was a joy to go into this project, knowing that every single cent the book earns would go to a charity designed to encourage kids to read and help put books in their hands.
About my story:
My story in LOVE & OTHER DISTRACTIONS is called, ‘The Vagina Dialogues” and it was originally written as a performance piece for myself and one of the most talented people I know, Victoria Zielinski. In 2012 we did an evening of sketch comedy & songs in Chicago (well, Wilmette) along with her wildly talented husband, Paul Barrosse and the brilliantly funny Dana Olsen.
My story began as a conversation between two women who were remarkably similar to Victoria and I. But as I began writing, it evolved into an intimate look at a demographic our culture rarely hears from – long-time female friends, over 40.
They’re still beautiful, they’re still feisty& funny, they’re still horny and they’ve got tons of stories to tell about the men they’ve loved and lost.
It was a blast to write and I have had amazing response from people who loved these women – ironically, a lot of my biggest fans are guys in their early 30s, who I think have a thing for MILFs.
The story is deliberately dialogue-heavy. Not because I don’t like writing prose - but because I really wanted these women’s personalities and POV to fuel the action.
R: You are listed on “Movie Smackdown” as a ‘rock n roll historian’. What does that entail?
S: It involves listening to an awful lot of Beatles music. (g) I think because I was just a little too young, I idealize the 60s. It remains my favorite decade.
When I was a teenager, my friend’s Dad was a program director at an “oldies” radio station in Chicago that had a playlist that pretty much spanned 1957-75. My friends and I hung around there all the time, sort of unofficial interns who were paid in t-shirts and albums. Once I got paid with a 10-pound box of frozen hamburger patties.
But we spent all day listening to the great British Invasions groups – the Beatles, Stones, Who, Kinks, Animals, Zeppelin, etc. And the glory of Motown & Stax/Volt soul. The brilliant “girl singers” of the era – Dusty Spingfield, Carole King, Laura Nyro, Mama Cass, Carly Simon, Janis Joplin, Lulu, Cilla, Nancy Sinatra etc. And the American groups – Rascals, Beach Boys, Doors, Buckinghams, Lovin’ Spoonful, Mamas & Papas, CSNY, the Byrds, the Monkees, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, the Dead…the list goes on and on.
I couldn’t get enough of it. Still can’t.
I’ve written about the era, I’ve been a disc jockey in LA and Chicago, I was the lead singer of the notorious SHELLY & THE SEA SHELLS and in the past few years I’ve toured the US and UK with my one-woman show, ONE FINE DAY: THE GROOVY GIRLS OF THE 60s.
No disrespect to the music that came before or after. There are dozens of artists I love from other eras. But there’s something about that generation from 63-73 that has energy and optimism that speaks to me like no other music.
I also wrote and produced about 6 episodes of BEHIND THE MUSIC which required a knowledge of Rock & Roll history from the 60s thru the 90s and I wrote and produced a documentary for Lifetime TV on the life of Yoko Ono which was pretty damned fascinating.
R: You are a self proclaimed “Beatles nerd”. Which of their songs are your favorite? Do you have a favorite Beatle? Do you prefer the 60’s or the 70’s Beatles and why?
S: Picking a favorite Beatles song – or even a favorite Beatle -- is like trying to pick a favorite finger or toe. I go through phases where I only listen to really early stuff – up to about HELP. Then I immerse myself into the era of Rubber Soul and Revolver – and I’m always amazed when I hear PEPPER or THE WHITE ALBUM or ABBEY ROAD – how fresh they sound.
Favorite Beatle? In his brilliant novel STILL LIFE WITH WOODPECKER, Tom Robbins said if you ask someone who their favorite Beatle is, the answer will tell you everything you need to know about that person. That’s still fairly accurate. It’s impossible not to worship John Lennon. He was simply one of the most fascinating men of the 20th century, a natural revolutionary & amazingly gifted artist. I am so sad that I never got to meet George Harrison. I read George’s favorite move was THE PRODUCERS. I always dreamed of watching it with him! I’ve had the good fortune to meet Paul and Ringo and both were absolutely everything you’d want them to be.
Paul had read something I’d written about the early days of Wings and was very complimentary about it – he’d obviously read it very carefully. As we discussed it, I was literally dizzy with delight.
There were no Beatles in the 70s (they broke up in 1970) but all of them did amazing solo work in the 70s. For Lennon, the apex was probably IMAGINE in 1971. For Paul, either RAM or BAND ON THE RUN, for George, ALL THINGS MUST PASS and Ringo managed the only true Beatles reunion in 1973 when all 4 played on various tracks on his wonderful RINGO CD.
Their contribution to the world is unmatched. They didn’t just save Rock & Roll from the first wave of corporate pop (which took over around the time Elvis got drafted). They changed style, politics, culture, art, music, film. We’re still feeling their influence after half a century.
And at the end of the day – their songs were FANTASTIC. They rocked!
R: You’ve also written jokes and special material for a host of performers. Who was your favorite to write for? Least favorite? Do you have a funny story you can share?
S: I’ve had the great pleasure of writing for so many people I admire. It’s always fun to work for a specific performer because the discipline requires more than just coming up with a funny line or a good lyric – it has to work in their individual voice.
I love working with Sharon Stone, who is one of the brightest people on the planet. Whenever we’re together we end up laughing until we’re in pain.
I think the most fascinating writing job I ever had was helping Steve Martin punch up one of his films. In addition to being utterly brilliant, he’s an absolute gentleman. As we worked (in a group of about half a dozen writers), someone would throw out an idea and instantly he’d be on his feet spinning comedy gold and within seconds he’d have turned it from an amorphous concept to a real, human moment – that was always wildly funny. It was like watching a great magician.
And when I’d say something or show him some writing that made him laugh – actually laugh out loud – I thought I’d gone to comedy heaven.
R: What writers would you say have made the greatest influence on your writing?
S: Larry Gelbart, Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, Brendan Foley, Junior Burke, Dorothy Parker, Wendy Wasserstein, Rita Mae Brown
R: What’s a must have for you when you are writing? What aids the creative process?
S: All I need is inspiration and a deadline. When push comes to shove, the latter often helps give birth to the former.
R: What is the craziest thing you've ever done?
S: Legend tells in the 80s I had a mullet – but I refuse to believe it.
R: If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?
S: Not writing for me is as probable as not breathing – but in the past few years I’ve added a lot more writer-performing to my resume and I like that a lot.
R: What’s your next project?
S: Currently writing the book and lyrics for a new musical. My husband and I recently created our third animated series for a production company in Asia, so I’m writing season 3 of one of the earlier shows. I hope to write a new one-woman cabaret, a follow-up to ONE FINE DAY, to bring to the stage in 2014.
Just for Fun:
Night or Day? . DAY
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully) - There’s a reason I’m called “Kitten with a Quip” (But I also love dogs.)
Beach or Pool? - Beach
Steak or salad? - Steak
Favorite Drink? Water.
Favorite Book? A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
Favorite TV Series? THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW, MAD MEN, THE SOPRANOS
Favorite Movie? THE PRODUCERS (1968) A HARD DAY’S NIGHT (1964)
Favorite Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis
Favorite Actress: Kate Hepburn & Roz Russell
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? – Really good Champagne
Hawaii or Alaska? - Hawaii
Finish this sentence: If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be JOHN LENNON, JOHN KENNEDY, JON STEWART, JOHN OLVIER – Do you detect a pattern?
If I had just one wish, it would be_ TO SPEND A LAUGH-FILLED DAY WITH MY HUSBAND AND MY (ONCE-MORE ALIVE & HEALTHY) PARENTS.
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be NOBODY. THEN YOU GET THEIR PROBLEMS
Thank you for a wonderful interview, Shelly!
Folks, pick up a copy of LOVE & OTHER DISTRACTIONS! Every cent goes to help our “pet” charity – KIDS NEED TO READ!
This anthology is all about that crazy little thing called love...and all the odd, impulsive, bizarre and sometimes illegal things people do in its name! With 20 stories, written by 14 Hollywood writers, spanning 7 different genres, it's a literary treasure trove that has something for everyone!
You Can get it here: http://www.amazon.com/Love-Other-Distractions-Anthology-Hollywood/dp/1491060263/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1375789439&sr=8-1&keywords=love+%26+other+distractions
Or here: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-and-other-distractions-christiana-miller/1116229742?ean=9781491060261