10/01/2012 10:21 am ET Updated Dec 01, 2012

Tell-All Books. Must They All -- And What's the Point?

"I AGREE with Barbra Streisand when she was asked the secret of a happy marriage? "Time apart!' she replied...

I think Alice Faye and Phil Harris felt the same way!"

This is Bill Biss philosophizing.

  • I USUALLY defend gossip and people who talk too much, and I always defended Monica Lewinsky who I thought got a kind of raw deal in the matter of her affair with the then president of the U.S. Bill Clinton. It was actually a "friend" of Monica's who blew the whistle back in the 1990s and Monica herself stayed fairly quiet about it all. She did write a book in 1999, but it did little to refurbish her reputation. Her life has, essentially, been ruined.

    So I find rumors that she might now issue a new book--more salacious, more detailed, more bitter -- alarming. (President Clinton, whom I can't help but like very much, appears to be indestructible.)

    Nobody seems to know if rumors of Monica's writing are true or false. Let's hope they are false. Enough already! Real pals say Monica won't put herself through all that again. (Brava for Monica, if true.)

    On the other hand, it is difficult to countenance why Arnold Schwarzenegger has come out with a horrible tell-all. You know. All about how he had a baby boy with his and Maria Shriver's house keeper.

    But Arnold's self-rush to judgment in print is a fact. In doing it, he may have gotten himself back on the front pages and he's ready for a new life and career. But he has probably lost a chance to reconcile with the well thought of Kennedy offspring, Maria Shriver, and to keep the respect of their four children. So shame on you... Arnold. Maria was about to forgive and forget, but you blew it.

    I say matters of lust and passion should be forgiven... they aren't national security. But people
    can either carry on quietly or denigrate themselves.

    I just wish they wouldn't.
  • I AM getting a kick out of all the Massachusetts "who shall we send to the Senate -- Elizabeth Warren or Scott Brown?" contretemps, mostly having to do with Scott's saying Miz Warren signed that she had Native American blood in order to succeed via "affirmative action."  She's no N.A. Iroquois, says he!

    She says she can't prove it but understood from her Oklahoma forebears that it was true.       

    Brown doesn't really know whether Warren has any N.A. blood and just because she doesn't "look it" -- doesn't mean that she has or hasn't any. We'll likely never know.     

    Look, almost everybody I ever met in Oklahoma or Texas claimed they had Native American blood somewhere in their ancestors. (But not so much that it ever threatened their WASPy social standing.)     

    People who, in the 20th century South and Midwest part of the country, wouldn't have even known, or ever seen a Native American, liked to brag about having "a full-blooded Cherokee or Comanche" somewhere in their past. 

    Or, a "part Apache great uncle" -- something of that nature. It made them more "colorful," they thought.     

    I have sat at my relative's tables while people named Scott, Sherrill, Smith, McCall, Ball all heroically thumped their Scotch-Irish-English chests and claimed absent kinship with plains and other Native Americans. (Back then, they referred to them as "Indians.")    

    One of my grandmothers was named Ball and claimed she was directly descended from George Washington's detestable mother. But she also claimed to be a little part friendly "Tejas Indian."  (This was in the '30s and '40s when nobody cared much what bad things had been done to grab Native American lands and the latter were mostly living out of sight on reservations and hadn't yet been recompensed with gambling casinos.)     

    Bloodlines have always and will perhaps always just be part of a bragging or attacking game that doesn't really mean much of anything.      

    For the record, I sent my widow's mite this year to Ms. Warren precisely because she is smarter than almost anybody else running for office.  She is also roundly detested even by many Democrats.  She seems to rile everybody up -- maybe it's because she is such a brilliant and uncommonly accomplished woman.

    I think whatever Elizabeth Warren's faults, we need her in the Senate more than we need the good-looking  Scott Brown and his truck.
  • WE ARE snowed under with messages about our coverage of the Marvin Hamlisch memorial and some personal memories of Brooke Astor. Thanks for all the offerings and interest.

    Here is a note from Mort Wax who has sweet memories of Marvin, so I will let him speak in his own words:

    Marvin was a mensch, sweet-natured, my friend and client. He hired me to promote his music from 'The Sting,' as he knew I represented Streisand and he was her musical conductor. He was concerned -- because he was a new recording artist -- that he would get lost in a big record company.

    It came to pass that on a nationally televised awards show when he was receiving a Grammy, Marvin turned and acknowledged me in the first row (the camera followed) as playing a key role in his getting the award.

    The next day we had lunch and I tried to persuade him to sign a contract with one of my music publishing contacts. He refused, telling me he was giving up writing pop songs and had taken a quiet studio to write a Broadway musical.

    I tried to dissuade him but to no avail. The show turned out to be A Chorus Line.
  • I would like to say a few words about the state of public relations and email these days.

    Every email requires another email to clarify its inordinate use of pronouns and vagueness. As in,

    "Yes, I'll meet you tomorrow." That takes the cake. I probably don't know who you are and when the word "tomorrow" was actually written.

    Also, you need to confine yourself to one subject for each email as nobody seems to read emails to the end and people today seem incapable of entertaining two thoughts in one communication.

    I have worked for seven newspapers in New York and for several major TV outlets -- NBC, WNBC, Good Day New York, Entertainment Tonight, Fox News, Fox Entertainment. My column appears on the newyorksocialdiary... wowowow... the HuffPost Celebrity section... My Way... the Drudge Report.

    And it is syndicated across the country, including the Chicago Tribune.

    But PR people can't find me.

    I had five PR people tell me this week they don't know how to reach me. Or asking for my mysterious office address and phone numbers. I have lived at the same address in Murray Hill for over 40 years and had the same phone numbers. But it is troublesome for them to check their own office for addresses and phone numbers. They'd rather ask me again and again.

    Is higher education failing young people in communication? I think so. Unless you Twitter a small thought, it might be just too much trouble to figure out what you might want to say. I spend hours it seems each day erasing emails which mostly say nothing.

    Just chalk this up to Old Fogeydom! My God, and the late Mrs. William Woodward used to send around hand-written letters via the chauffeur who delivered them the very next day. (No, I don't expect that!)

    As for iPhones and other menaces encountered on the streets, Diane Sawyer reports that talking on a phone on the street is like waving two $100 bills near your ear. People are being knocked off by thieves for -- not paying attention.

    A portable telephone is a great invention but the idea is being used in the most irresponsible manner.