We gave it a C+
Only those who have never watched Entourage or so much as glanced at EW could believe that the Academy Awards ceremony is a dignified tribute that fearlessly rewards creative excellence while inviting dazzled viewers to bask in the natural beauty of Hollywood’s movie stars. Such innocents might not want to read Celebutantes or Oscar Season, two seasonally appropriate popcorn novels that beg to differ.
The less gullible may well snap up these complementary, gimlet-eyed satires — the former by pedigreed Hollywood kids Amanda Goldberg and Ruthanna Khalighi Hopper (daughters of producer Leonard Goldberg and Easy Rider Dennis Hopper), the latter by seasoned L.A. Times reporter Mary McNamara. The books reveal nothing new, but reiterate stuff that many of us apparently like to hear over and over again: Some stars can be real pains in the tush. Some agents and publicists are lunatics. Some — or is it most? — amazingly youthful-looking people in the entertainment industry have had Work Done. Shocked yet?
A younger crowd weaned on Sex and the City, up on celebrity gossip, and eager to guess the real players who inspired the characters is the ideal readership for Celebutantes, the tongue-in-cheek, poor-little-rich-brats story of a famous director’s daughter who has lousy taste in actor boyfriends and no particular creative skills, and who texts and moans about her burning desire to effortlessly establish a fabulous career. The book is silly, with no literary flair, but it’s doggedly committed to its own market-savvy shallowness; it’s the Kate Bosworth in Zac Posen presents the Best Sound Editing award of Oscar novels.
Oscar Season is less hysteria-prone. As a bonus, the book also passes as a murder mystery, however clunky, complete with a corpse floating in a fancy pool, Sunset Boulevard-style. McNamara sets her anthropological study of Egos Run Amok in a luxe hot-spot L.A. hotel where Oscar nominees, producers, stylists, journalists, and progeny of Hollywood royalty (who might well include Goldberg and Hopper) converge in the days before the big show. The heroine is the hotel’s brilliant, beautiful, tireless head of PR, who, while solving First World crises, keeps the insignificance of the Oscars in clear perspective — and, by the way, has a talent for screenwriting on the side.
To such an Oscar novel goes the Sharon Stone in Gap and Armani presents the Best Supporting Actor award — only appropriate for a fable that’s a little more mature, but still relies on cue cards. Celebutantes: C+; Oscar Season: B