Biography Panel: Behind the Scenes

Biography Panel: Behind the Scenes

April 30, 2017 @ 11:30 am – 1:00 pm
Kleinert/James Center for the Arts
34 Tinker St
Woodstock, NY 12498

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James Grissom
Leslie Bennetts
Last Girl Before the Freeway
Marc Eliot
Charlton Heston


A biography describes a person’s reactions to the events in their life. It’s more than just the details. It’s the story of how a life is experienced.


Think about it. The writer must describe what happened to the subject, and then find a way to let us know how the subject felt about what happened, without veering from the facts. No easy feat.


Our biography panel, moderated by James Grissom, features the writers behind some of this year’s most talked-about biographies.


Author of Follies of God: Tennessee Williams and the Women of the Fog (Knopf, 2015), James Grissom is now writing a memoir about his gilded, wasted life in which he barely makes ends meet, in the company of Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor, Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn and others. Find James’ fascinating interviews with the famous and infamous on his website.


He’s also written for such shows as Sex and the City, Will & Grace, and The Good Wife.


See what James is up to on Twitter.


Leslie Bennetts is the author of the national bestseller The Feminine Mistake, as well as a longtime Vanity Fair writer and former New York Times reporter. At Vanity Fair, she wrote many movie star cover stories in addition to articles on subjects ranging from priest pedophilia to U.S. antiterrorism policy, and she was the first woman ever to cover a presidential campaign at the New York Times.


Her latest book, Last Girl Before Freeway: The Life, Loves, Losses, and Liberation of Joan Rivers (Little, Brown and Company, 2016) delves into the inner workings of a woman who both reflected and redefined the world, throughout her tumultuous, victorious, tragic, hilarious, and fascinating life.


Rivers’ triumphant highs and devastating lows play out in the book: the suicide of her husband, her feud with Johnny Carson, her estrangement from her daughter, her many plastic surgeries, her ferocious ambition and her massive insecurities. But Rivers’ career was also hugely significant in American cultural history, breaking down barriers for her gender and pushing the boundaries of truth-telling for women in public life.


Read Leslie Bennetts’ essay on Joan Rivers in Lenny.


New York Times bestselling author Marc Eliot brings his latest biography to the panel, Charlton Heston: Hollywood’s Last Icon (Dey Street Books March 2017).


With unprecedented cooperation with Heston’s family, and never-before-seen personal photos, documents and hand-written letters, Charlton Heston: Hollywood’s Last Icon for the first time tells the real story of Charlton’s Heston’s amazing life, an incisive, detailed, compelling portrayal, both for longtime fans, Hollywood movie lovers everywhere and a new college and TCM generation discovering Heston’s work for the first time.


Eliot has written more than two dozen books on popular culture, among them Death of a Rebel, the Life of Phil Ochs; the highly acclaimed Cary Grant, the award-winning Walt Disney: Hollywood’s Dark Prince; Jimmy Stewart, and American Rebel: The Life of Clint Eastwood. His work has been published in more than twenty-five languages, and he frequently speaks about film to universities and film groups.


Marc lives in New York City and Woodstock, New York.