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"
The Life of a Hollywood Awards Show Escort
The Stunt Master on "Buffy, The Vampire Slayer"
Chaser Behind the scenes at "Late Night with Conan O'Brien"
Auteur The Mastermind behind Reality TV's "Shocking Behavior"
A Writer on VH1's "Pop-Up Video"
Hard Corps Hackers in the Open Source Revolution
Gag Writer for "You Don't Know Jack"
You got a FEEDer idea? Tell us
|| 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
spot in the bookstores, whether it was my own book or Geraldo's. So she
knew, and her friends at the tennis club knew.
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
||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
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.
|| 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.
|| 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.
|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.