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The Manuscript Madame
Behind the scenes at a literary escort service.

The Music Man
What it Takes to be a TV Jingle Writer

Lord of the Ring
Claymation Animator at MTV's "Celebrity Deathmatch"

Celebrity's Second Skin
The Life of a Hollywood Awards Show Escort

Blood Sport
The Stunt Master on "Buffy, The Vampire Slayer"

Paper Chaser Behind the scenes at "Late Night with Conan O'Brien"

Voyeur Auteur The Mastermind behind Reality TV's "Shocking Behavior"

Pop Art
A Writer on VH1's "Pop-Up Video"

The Hard Corps Hackers in the Open Source Revolution

Cracker Jack
Gag Writer for "You Don't Know Jack"

You got a FEEDer idea? Tell us about it!

Name: Daniel Paisner



Ghostwriter. Penned books allegedly written by Willard Scott, Malcolm Jamal-Warner, Whoopi Goldberg, Anthony Quinn, Geraldo Rivera, Ed Koch, George Pataki, Maureen Reagan, and Emme, a plus-sized supermodel. Other clients have sworn him to secrecy.


His Secret Life:

[I've also worked with] business men, captains of industry. Politicians. Names that you would know, but [if I told you] I would have to kill you. They know the contribution I made. I know the contribution I made. My mom, when she was alive, she knew. She would go and put my book in the right spot in the bookstores, whether it was my own book or Geraldo's. So she knew, and her friends at the tennis club knew.


The Stars:

It might be my work, but it's their life. And that doesn't really bother me at all. That's part of the bargain, signing on to help them write their story. Even if you're the one who sits in your office filling up these blank pages with their thoughts and experiences, at bottom it's a book about their thoughts and their experiences. They're the ones who should be out there speaking about it and taking credit for it.

If I do my job well, when [my subjects] hold the book in their hands, they should feel a pride of authorship. A lot of people get hung up on what writing actually is. Is it committing these words to paper? I think they are every bit the writers of these books, more so than I am. They've lived these stories. They've thought these ideas. Held these positions. All I'm doing is helping communicate these ideas. And if you're earning a very good living, then it doesn't really matter if you take any kind of public bow. My favorite thing to do in this job is to bring the subject a clean manuscript at the end of the process and watch them hold it in their hands and look at it as if for the first time. Because it always strikes me as this profoundly personal gift.


The Glory: I have found [most stars] are pretty good about sharing credit, however there are certain marketing considerations, where publishers would like the appearance of the star having written his or her own material. Willard Scott was one of the most gracious. At every opportunity he would mention my name. My wife's grandmother monitors this stuff for me because she watches all the talk shows. The other day there was this strange harmonic convergence, because Star Jones was on Montel Williams' show. I had written both their books.

There are euphemisms you'll find if you walk through a bookstore. My favorite is "...whose care and insight is reflected on every page."


The Rewards: It's very gratifying, especially if it's a book you're proud of. I don't want to come across as biting the hand that feeds me, but a lot of these books are more merchandise than literature. But several of them turn out to be good for what they are. They've sometimes helped a lot of people. Emme's book has helped people. Malcolm Jamal-Warner's book has helped a lot of kids. When [my agent] called me up to do that, my first thought was, "No, the kid is 17, who wants to read his life story?" But at the time he was one of the most popular teenage television stars and he would get thousands of letters. A couple of dozen each week were meaningful letters on important subjects that kids all over the place could relate to. Depression, drugs, peer pressure. We used these letters as a window to help other children. It was called Theo and Me: Growing Up Okay. When you do a book like that, you're proud of it. Even if your name is in tiny little letters on the cover, you still feel the pride of ownership.


Personal Touches: There's probably something distinctive in the things that I do. They might be better defined as devices or frames. I wouldn't call it a voice. I've had publishers tell me, "You are Willard Scott," or "You are Montel Williams." In many ways it's like you're Rich Little. You find out how these people talk and you just carry it through. As I'm writing I'll put in, "I was feeling _____." I'll leave it blank. I tell people that when I give them chapters in progress, they'll get something that looks like Mad Libs. Not a single one of them has known what Mad Libs is. Maybe there should be a Mad Libs for writing your autobiography. But it would put me out of work.


Other projects: I wrote a novel called Stet, about a ghostwriter. I was able to save stuff that I couldn't use in these other books and graft them on to the characters.


Parting Shot:

I also write all my children's papers for school. And all their friends' papers. My kids think I'm famous. They don't understand why other people don't know who their father is.