Time, you know, chooses its targets carefully. With red wine, certain cheeses or ancient architecture, the wearing of years adds a richness of depth and a uniqueness of flavor that allows them to stand out as superior to a fresh bottle of newly-laid plonk served with Velveeta on crackers in an American-Soviet high rise box. Less fortunately, that simply smashing shirt or skirt you bought in 1986 now makes you look like a windmill on a miniature golf course. No, clothes don’t age well and neither do television sets, hairlines or memoirs.

Oh, that’s right. Memoirs do not age well, particularly les romans à clef with their leads and surrounding characters hidden by disguises as flimsy as Superman’s curl or Clark Kent’s eyeglasses. The joy of them becomes their fatal flaw. We all enjoy a good old game of, ‘I Know Who That Is!’ as that cheating poet with the roguish curls and lust for battle can only be Lord Byron. And if you did not recognize that reference to Lady Caroline Lamb’s 1816 novel Glenarvon, don’t feel too badly for no one else has read it for pleasure in the last century and a half. They lose their potency. Supporting characters who had achieved a certain notoriety and thus were worth spotting like Easter eggs or buried truffles descend first into trivia and then into inconsequentiality.

And yet, some do survive and even improve over time, the rare few that beat the odds like Cary Grant’s looks or an antique watch. There’s Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises for one, Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night or Dominick Dunne’s re-casting of the Woodward murder in The Two Mrs. Grenvilles. One must not forget either Dorothy Parker’s Big Blonde which is the story of its author’s descent into alcoholism. Any or all can be read and enjoyed with absolutely no inkling of who the hell Gerald and Sara Murphy were or what a Belair Stud is. (It was a horse ranch darling, not a gigolo.) 

For a roman à clef to have a life beyond the immediate party game, it absolutely must have two qualities going for it. As a novel, it must have a richness of story that just happens to coincidentally involve some notable celebrities or other newsworthy figures. And of course, it better be bloody well-written.

For those two reasons, I equally love and admire Vicki Abelson’s Don’t Jump. Yes, it took me a while to get around to saying that, but great books like great stage actresses deserve a proper entrance. 

What I found most incredible about Don’t Jump is how it has grown. Full disclosure: I read an earlier draft of Don’t Jump three years ago or so. I had ‘intermet’ Vicki Abelson because of my admiration for her fantastic book salon held at her home in Los Angeles, Women Who Write. At the time, I thought her manuscript was more than publishable in its current form. It was sharp, it was funny, it told the story well of Andi, a nice Jewish girl from New York who existed as a close observer of the music and television scene through the 1980s and 90s while never quite making it to stardom herself. I told Vicki, ‘Keep at it and you will find a publisher.’

We then flash forward and what I have just read is a complete, rich, wonderful novel. Yes I know who the musicians are, the athlete is and the talk show host. They scarcely matter. Andi herself has matured within her book. She is a perfectly articulated portrait of a woman who seeks identity in the world of entertainment; a world where no one is ever quite who they proclaim to be. Stars you know are like real stars; the closer you get to their center the more likely it is you will be burnt to a crisp. That bitter truth leads Andi into an addiction to marijuana. If reality sucks, change the channel.

Now, I expect some shrill criticism of Vicki Abelson for writing about a marijuana addiction, to which I can only say shut up. People can become addicted to anything – booze, smokes, salt n’ vinegar chips, chocolate, shoes, porcelain hippos, cars, sex and yes weed too. Andi’s marijuana also came mixed into a nasty goulash of addictions to love and, when all else fails, food. So leave the correct politics at the door.

Don’t Jump explores every corner and does so in smooth, flowing language. To quote one passage, when Andi rushes home after an afternoon tryst, she writes:

‘Slowing as I got to my corner, I tried to casually stroll into the building. Smiling at Nick, the afternoon guy, I ran to the elevator to try to beat Frank home. As I approached the door of the apartment I listened for a second. When I didn’t discern any sound, I quickly unlocked the door, immediately double locking it behind me. Throwing off my clothes, I pushed them low in the hamper, well under the mounds of more recent wear. Jumping in the shower, I scrubbed myself silly, quickly blow- dried my hair and the mirror to hide my recent activity. Since when did I shower before dinner?’

Don’t Jump is also wonderfully funny, with the humor coming, as all the best humor does, from the characters placed in awkward, believable situations and not from jokes laid in with a staple gun. It is not at all dissimilar to Carrie Fisher’s Postcards From the Edge and forty years has been way too long a wait for someone to come along who can write in that outside/insider mode. That said, Vicki Abelson can fire off a punchline like a rifle shot. ‘If I was going to hell, I was going down in a blaze of horny.’ I laughed out loud at that one and trust me, I am one lousy audience when it comes to comedy.

Ultimately then, Don’t Jump is a delicious roman à clef a la Carrie Fisher, with the emotional honesty and deft writing of a modern Dorothy Parker. It has an intelligence without snobbery, a wit beyond crudity, a sensitivity without preachiness … and is funny as all hell.

                                                                                                                     -Hubert O'Hearn


About Random Content

Random Content is a Los Angeles publishing / digital production company comprised of graphic designers, filmmakers, editors, and development minds. Random Content is an ideas machine where collaboration has produced award-winning results since 1994. Random Content breaks new ground in iBook production, branded content, interactive and broadcast.  Founder/EP/Director Lawrence O’Flahavan have assembled a team whose experience in strategy, marketing, design and technology creates engaging new ways to tell stories in every possible medium. From digital initiatives to groundbreaking apps, we work with our partners to conceive, produce and distribute memorable entertainment.




Carl Reiner on The Late Late Show with James Corden

Carl Reiner's new book "Why & When The Dick Van Dyke Show was Born" will becoming out in October... We are so proud at Random Content Publishing of this book.  We were honored to be involved in a project that is so close to Carl's creative being.  This book is about the creating and maintaining a TV series for 5 wonderful seasons. The book contains two scripts in fact  the original scripts came from Carl's Smith Corona typewriter. The scripts were carefully scanned and placed at the end of the book.  You will see how the very first original script he wrote called "Head of the Family" was changed  to  "The Dick Van Dyke Show."  The script went from a single camera to a three camera situation comedy to be shot at Desilu Studios.  Carl wrote the first 59 epodes by himself... This book is about the episodes that he wrote and how they were lifted from his life.  He has always told young writers to write what they know...  He maintains an amazing daily writing schedule and enjoys creating daily tweets. Carl's twitter handle is @carlreiner... As of today Aug.24, 2015 he has 96.6K followers... Please watch the very funny short clip with Carl and James Corden... Carl has received The Mark Twain Award... 12 Emmys and 6 of those were for "The Dick Van Dyke Show" and he is only 93 years old. 

Carl Reiner's Smith Corona where it all started. 

Carl Reiner's Smith Corona where it all started. 

Carl Reiner Debuts His Augmented Reality Book at The London Book Fair

Today at the London Book Fair, Carl Reiner, American actor and comedian, working with Random Content Publishing announced his new book "The Secret Treasure of Tahka Paka." He also has announced a partnership with Zappar, a leader in augmented reality experiences. The new book will contain Zappable augmented reality content throughout, bringing the story to life. The book, which launches on April 22. 

By using Zappar’s free smartphone and tablet app, children and parents are able to zap pages, jumping into the tale alongside key characters Cark and Carla on their adventure through the magical island of Tahka Paka. Readers will experience battling pirates and ancient curses whilst journeying through hidden caves and tunnels to find the secret treasure buried deep in island. 

As part of a wider initiative to encourage more traditional industries to consider technology which can improve consumer experiences, Max Dawes, Partnerships Director at Zappar, presented at the London Book Fair on how augmented reality can truly add value and compliment the printed product for publishers. ‘The Secret Treasure of Tahka Paka’ was at the heart of this. 

Max Dawes commented: “We’re so pleased to be working alongside Carl and Random Content on their latest story. Augmented reality is brilliant way to add a new dimension to storytelling. We hope the book will encourage shared time with families to help children bond and engage through reading.”

Carl Reiner added: “This book has a little extra goodie with addition of Zappar and its clever technology, offering you the chance to not only read the book, but be in the book as well.” 

Huff Post Book Review of Annie Reiner's Children's Books by Dr. Cheryl Pappas

I Am Lilly and Penelope's Pearls are a new dynamic duo of children's books, written by Annie Reiner. Annie Reiner comes from a gold medal show biz family. Her father, Carl Reiner, is a comedy legend.

She has the chops of a writer and artist, one who has chosen to devote her career to the care of her patients as a psychoanalyst in private practice. A psychoanalyst whose focus is on early childhood. 

Who better to write books for children? 

Early childhood is a particularly vulnerable time, a time when each child's view of her or himself is a tender seed, with the roots of a lifetime at stake. What a wonderful advantage when a beautiful children's book appears to help the young child at these tender growing moments!

Both books, I Am Lilly and Penelope's Pearls, are lean in length, yet deep and resonant in their ability to communicate the often nonverbal longings of children.
What fun they are and how artfully presented. 

Here we have an infusion of art and words woven with exquisite tenderness. The voice of each book is the voice of an angel beckoning the child to come close enough to enter this most intimate conversation about having a true self. 

Annie Reiner's visual art is as vivid and alive as her writing. Shall I talk about the illustrations in her two new books for children? She could have an entire career as an illustrator. No, I won't spoil that for you, the introduction to the twinkle dance of Annie's art.

But I will tell you about her stories.

I Am Lilly is the story of a child's seeking a beginning, primitive answer to the question, "Who Am I?" Lilly, our heroine, perfectly expresses a child's longing to have adult abilities beyond the strict limitations of being a child. This fundamental theme of every small child's life, as we see in Lilly's quest, s written with heart-melting patience and jolly humor. 

One can imagine a mother or father reading these pages in seriousness to a giggling, delighted child.

"Of course I'm not Grandpa!"

"Or you, Dad!"

"Or Mom!"

"I'm me!"

If only Lilly's quandary and resolution could be every child's free, undisturbed central focus.

Penelope's Pearls is a lyrical verse about feeling afraid and "cold," which all children at times are likely to feel. The book articulates a child's pain and fear of being unloved, alone, forgotten, abandoned.

Penelope, our heroine, is the smallest penguin in the South Pole. Because Penelope is a penguin, she is supposed to be like all the other penguins who are used to the freezing cold.

Aren't we all supposed to be copies of one another as children?

Don't we all grow up wanting to belong?

Penelope is different from the others. She is constantly freezing, seeking warmth and dreaming of being in Hawaii. Reiner has created many a perfect metaphor in Penelope's Pearl's.

It is a classic.

These books are so charming that it is a safe bet that parents will find themselves inhaling Reiner's message. After all, there are patches of unfinished psychological business in all of us. 

These are stories about not just finding and loving the self, but delighting in being alive. Delight in the adult experience can be seen as a highly suspicious position, a lack of control.

Here are stories for the parent as well as the child.

The world is hungry for love.

Hurray for these books that provide children a road home.

-Dr. Cheryl Pappas


"I AM LILLY" by Annie Reiner Available Now.
I Am Lilly

 ABOUT THE BOOK Lilly is a little girl impatient to grow up. Pretending to 

be big, however, creates complications as her imagination runs away with her.

Behind the fanciful verse of I AM LILLY is an important message about how children develop a sense of self. The discovery of who we are begins in the hearts and minds of children, and in changing times like ours, that inner foundation becomes even more essential. 

I AM LILLY presents these ideas about identity in a playful way reminiscent of Dr. Seuss. As a psychoanalyst and poet as well as author/illustrator, Annie Reiner illuminates this process of growth in a book that is fun for children and adults. Her unique paper cut-out illustrations add child-like spontaneity and humor to Lilly’s journey.



Carl Reiner Demonstrates Augmented Reality with Jimmy Fallon

Carl Reiner and Jimmy Fallon demoed the augmented reality features of Carl's new children’s book The Secret Treasure Of Tahka Paka on NBC’s The Tonight Show with the Zappar app. This was the first time mainstream audiences were exposed to augmented reality on a major US network.

The story sees a family visit a tropical island where they experience hidden caves, tunnels, crypts, ancient curses, pirates and a secret treasure that will benefit all of us.

To have the same experience Carl had on the show, download the Zappar app onto your device and zap the image below.

Carl Reiner Book Signing at Larry Edmunds Bookshop, Hollywood

During his book signing, Carl Reiner entertained a packed house at Larry Edmunds Bookshop. The event quickly morphed from Carl relaying stories from the book to a true conversation with the audience. Jeff Mantor, owner of Larry Edmunds Bookshop, presented Carl with a cake resembling the cover of his memoir "I Just Remembered" for his 93rd birthday. However, no one ate cake, because Carl loved the decorated cake so much that he didn't want to cut into it. 

Jeff Mantor presenting Carl Reiner with a birthday cake for his 93rd B-Day!

Jeff Mantor presenting Carl Reiner with a birthday cake for his 93rd B-Day!

Carl Reiner joking with a packed house at Larry Edmunds Bookshop 

Carl Reiner joking with a packed house at Larry Edmunds Bookshop 

"One Lucky Bastard" by Carl Reiner Exclusively on RANDOM CONTENT

    Most people would find it hard to believe that Brando Newman, the central male character of this epic tale, was but twenty years old when he went from being a sad, lost soul to a happy, bonafide celebrity. Some consider Brando Newman to be the luckiest man alive and others, the unluckiest.

     How lucky would you say was a man who is the sole surviving sibling in his family? Two of Brando’s brothers, Sean and Redford, were the first to go and his older sisters, Sandra and Brigitte, passed away the following day. During that short, fateful period, four of the Newman sextuplets had breathed their last breaths. It was a heartbreaking morning for their mother, Ava Newman, and for their father, Adam Pafko, her soon to be husband, whose divorce papers from his first wife had just been signed. 

    It was also a sad day for the hard working attendants in the nursery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. All were tearful when Liam, the fifth sextuplet, had to be taken off the life-support system.

    Their Dad was saddened by the loss but their mother was inconsolable. For nine months, two hundred and seventy long days, Ava had proudly and with great discomfort carried six growing embryos in her womb. For the last four months of her pregnancy, while confined to her bed, Ava read every old and new book about the care and raising of infants–from Doctor Benjamin Spock’s “Baby And Child Care” and Magaret Ribble’s “The Rights Of Infants”to the recently published “Baby 411” by Denise Field and Ari Brown.

    From the catalogues strewn on her bed, Ava had ordered six cribs, blue and pink sleepwear, dozens of blankets and sheets, six ceiling mobiles, six rubber ducks and a boxful of pacifiers. She had promised herself to do everything in her power to be the best possible mother to her six babies. 

    Now that all but one were gone, the love, dedication and hands-on mothering that Ava was prepared to give to her six babies, she would hereafter lavish on her only child, Brando. 

    Being aware of his future wife’s plan, Adam promised that he would do all in his power to help her raise their child in the manner she had outlined. 

     The two doting parents were an unbeatable team and their giggly infant was the recipient of the best kind of loving care. All went swimmingly for the family until one hot summer’s day when Adam dove into their backyard pool and swam three fast laps before suffering a fatal heart attack. This tragic event aborted the chance for Adam to give his son legitimacy. 

    From that day forward, Ava Newman channeled all her time, energy and love into the raising of the last living member of her bastard brood. 

    As Brando grew, Ava pointed out to her son how ephemeral life was and because no one could know how long they would live, she suggested that Brando become involved only in pursuits that would bring him joy, real honest-to-goodness joy!

     Fortunately, there were two things in Brando’s life that made it possible for him to take her suggestion to heart. The one thing he would never have to worry about was making a living, as his Dad bequeathed to him an enormous fortune. He now had millions in real estate and cold, hard cash but sadly, no legitimate surname. 

    As for Brando pursuing something that gave him real joy, there would not be a problem. In all the world there was but one endeavor that, if he successfully completed, would doubtlessly provoke a great big smile on his handsome face–a smile so broad that it would ricochet through his body and bring him the kind of unbridled joy his mother dreamed that one day would be his.

    To many, it may seem puerile that such unabashed joy could be engendered simply by his succeeding in doing something he had attempted every day since he had learned to read--fill in all the empty boxes in every crossword puzzle printed every day in the daily and weekend editions of the Los Angeles Times and New York Times. 

    Of late, to challenge himself, Brando has been pain-stakingly completing the New York Times puzzles on his old Smith Corona typewriter. 

    Knowing how much joy her son would have if he could solve the crossword puzzles in foreign languages, Ava Newman searched out and hired language professors to teach Brando how to read and write French, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Romanian, Hungarian, Polish, Japanese, Chinese, Dutch, Slovak, Irish, Scottish, Portuguese, Yiddish and Farsi –and to good avail!

    It was reported that after filling in the last square of the Sunday edition of the Farsi crossword puzzle, the smile that exploded on Brando’s face was so radiant that his flashing teeth were visible to the astronauts who were manning the international station in outer space.

FOR MORE STORIES by CARL REINER see "What I Forgot To Remember," his Spring 2015 Bio.