May 23, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT

Fame: Ain't It a Bitch

Current Status
In Season
A.J. Benza
We gave it a C+

Long story short: In his swaggering memoir, Fame: Ain’t It a Bitch, the former New York gossip columnist can’t help reminding readers that he constantly feels like he’s won the lottery. From low level John Gotti associate to clog wearing, pill popping nightlife reporter to his current gig hosting E!’s ”Mysteries & Scandals,” Benza has had an unusual career arc, and his anecdotes about newsroom life are sometimes wildly funny. But he’s almost too busy boasting about the models he’s bedded, the asses he’s kissed, and the punches he’s taken to even bother with any dirt dishing.

To his credit, Benza writes in breezily engaging mook speak, but the guy obviously never met a cliché he didn’t like? to use over and over and over again. Also, assuming a hardcover book has a longer lead time than a daily paper, why didn’t anyone read it before it went to press? Misspellings abound, as do flubbed names and song titles. And just how did he get away with that repugnant rape joke on page 185? As Benza himself is so fond of promising, ”more on that f—in’ story later.”

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