Book Review: Collaborating Backstage by Timo Niermann

Book Review: Collaborating Backstage by Timo Niermann

It is easy for an artist to feel lost or to compare themselves to the crowd. However, it is so important to remember that every artist brings something special to their art. This is the biggest thing that I got from the new book Collaborating Backstage Breaking Barriers for the Creative Network. This book was written by Timo Niermann and I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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OnStage Book Review: “My Life to Live” by Agnes Nixon

Brittany Strelluf

OnStage St. Louis Critic

I began watching “All My Children” on Spring Break during  my later college years. 
Every day without fail, “All My Children” came on at noon. I watched it at lunch and came to enjoy it very much.  I loved the fancy clothes, the characters, and of course, all of the drama that one expects from a daytime soap opera. 

I could always count on the stories of characters like Adam and Stewart Chandler,  Kendall Hart, Greenlee Smythe, Ericka Kane, Tad Martin, Jesse Hubbard, Angie Baxter, and my darling Opal to liven up my lunch hour.  The exploits of Pine Valley residents that spanned over several decades and entertained millions of loyal viewers was created by Agnes Nixon. 

Ms. Nixon accomplished an unbelievable dream in creating not one, but two high successful and entertaining TV shows. TV shows that ran every day over forty years and had huge followings.  For her work, Ms. Nixon received the Trustees Award from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. She is a member of the Television Hall of Fame as well as the Soap Opera Hall of Fame. Ms. Nixon received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

So when I had the chance at a free copy of Ms. Nixon’s book “My Life to Live How I Became the Queen of Soaps When Men Ruled the Airwaves”  I didn’t hesitate for a second. 

Ms. Nixon always had a way of grasping her audience's full attention and drawing them into the story that they are watching. The same can be said about her autobiography.  Agnes Nixon’s life was as fascinating and topsy-turvy as her shows. 

Ms. Nixon  tells the stories of her family and loved ones with the same honesty,  passion and dramatic flare that she always had for the characters she wrote. I can really see how the experiences in her life influenced her work.  She writes about her earliest years in Nashville. She writes about her paper dolls, who served as the first stars of her work. She writes about all of the strong women-everyone from her mother to Mary Queen of Scots- who inspired her. She writes about her fears and of her deep love for her husband and children. She writes in a way that is dramatic, yet so very relatable. 

I highly recommend “My Life to Live”  not only to every “One Life to Live” and “All My Children” fan, but also to any aspiring script writer. This memoir is the last gift left to the world by the Queen of Soaps.

Readers are “In Such Good Company” with Carol Burnett

Brittany Strelluf

  • Missouri Critic

I remember the first time I ever really watched Carol Burnett on television.

It was in the year 2008, and she was the guest on an episode of Oprah. She was being funny and gracious, telling stories about her entertainment career, sharing laughs, and even performing her famous Tarzan call.  Later, I caught bits of her career on internet clips from her long-running show and enjoyed them tremendously. 

So when I was offered receive a copy of her book; In Such Good Company,  in exchange for a review, I knew I had to seize the opportunity. 

This book is described by the publisher as “Carol’s love letter to a golden era in television history through the lens of her brilliant show.” I have to agree wholeheartedly with that summation. 

In preparing for this book Carol Burnett re-watched all 276 episodes of twenty-five-time Emmy-Award winning show that made television history. Her attention to detail and warm affection of her show shine through.  

I would of course recommend this book to any fan of Carol Burnett and her incredible work in television, film and Broadway that earned her accolades like the Presidential Medal of Freedom and Kennedy Center Honors. I would also recommend this to comedic actors, comics, improvisational comics, as well as character actors such as myself. 

Honest, funny, and lighthearted this book is easily one of the most pleasant memoirs I have had the pleasure of reading.  Carol reflects on time spent with other legends like Lucille Ball, Gloria Swanson, and  Rita Hayworth.  As well as other amazing entertainers like Bernadette Peters, Betty Grable, and Betty White. 
Although the stories are wonderfully entertaining. I think my favorite topic Ms. Burnett touched on was how she grew and matured as a person and as an entertainer over the years. Carol has  had a great deal of self deprecating humor woven throughout her comic material. However, In the earliest years, she was called homely, flat-chested, and portrayed as having an unrequited infatuation with fellow actor Lyle Waggoner. They changed that as the show went on.  

Carol Burnett is a legend, and to read that she felt that she had made mistakes early in her career and then sought to learn from those mistakes, grow and move forward is very powerful.  
The short chapter “A Man’s Game” was also quite powerful. It is so important for young actresses to read.

Thank you Carol Burnett for sharing your memories with the world. I’m so glad we had this time together.