My Lucky Star

Former Frasier writer send up Hollywood in the best way.

Part of the fun of this former Frasier writer's Hollywood satire—and there's a great deal of fun to be had—is mentally casting it. Wry, ultra-unflappable screenwriter heroine Claire seems to me so clearly Catherine Keener that I'd be shocked if author Joe Keenan didn't have her in mind himself. As grande dame actress and decaying gorgon Diana Malenfant (whose "face has more fine lines than The Importance of Being Earnest"), he's probably thinking in Faye Dunaway terms, but I can't shake the image of Terence Stamp's matronly transsexual in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. And Diana's charmingly manipulative actor son, Stephen, is a role Antonio Sabato Jr. was born to play (bet you never thought you'd see those last nine words together in the same sentence). But let me back up. Claire, who "adheres to a code of ethics the average bishop might find uncomfortably lacking in wiggle room," is the best friend, writing partner, and chief bail-outer of Philip, whose ex, Gilbert, has managed to wangle the three of them a gig adapting a wretched World War II novel for—of all people—Stephen, Hollywood's biggest, sexiest, and closeted-est star. Meanwhile, Diana's sister, Lily, is threatening to write her tell-all memoirs, including everything the now-married action-star Stephen did as a horny teenager. Then an even bigger sexual blackmail threat rears its tumescent mauve head. These must be few if any novelists who can scatter showbiz-skewering jokes more lavishly over every page and paragraph (sample film titles from Keenan's alternate universe: Soiled, Tomorrow Be Damned, Whoa, You're No Chick!, and Caliber IV: Who'll Save the Sun?), or who are more adroit at plotting, piling twist upon twist. Keenan's final tying-up, after a climactic dilemma you can't imagine how our heroes will get out of, is thoroughly satisfying. Through sheer skill, his treatment of this well-worn subject for satire makes a thing of beauty of what could have been tired camp.

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