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From the revolutionary mind of television's legendary mad genius, a story of money, sex, greed, revenge, murder -- and reality TV The year is 2012, and as the Most Famous Television Producer in the World is walking down a wintry New York City block, he's accosted by a homeless-looking cripple who, like everyone else, insists he has the formula for the greatest TV show of all time. As it turns out, he does: Contestants will compete for one hundred million dollars. If they win, they're rich. If they lose, they face immediate on-camera execution. As the Producer begins scheming to steal the idea and revive his fading career, The Big Question introduces the extraordinary characters who will ultimately become the show's contestants -- a brilliantly rendered, Dickensian cast that includes the seventy-something Vera Bundle, with a taste for scotch and encyclopedias; Arthur Durch, a convicted sex offender-turned-relationship therapist; Retta Mae Wagons, a sixteen-year-old prostitute with an IQ of 170 and an ex-con-turned-Muslim fundamentalist boyfriend who doesn't appreciate her; Billy Constable, the Kentucky rube who gets off a bus in New York and promptly finds himself in trouble with the Mob; and Father Brady, the devout Catholic priest with a mortifying secret to hide at any cost. As the first episode is broadcast live in front of millions, the audience, the cast, and the crew behind the scenes do the unthinkable: they sit and watch, rapt and glassy-eyed, as the final contestant left on stage meets an unimaginable fate. To say The Big Question is a novel of greed and immorality would be putting it lightly. But to read this book without laughing out loud at every page would be impossible. This is more than just a funny book, though. With uncanny precision and razor-sharp wit, the inimitable Chuck Barris reveals the inconceivable lengths to which people will go for those priceless fifteen minutes, the fascination we have with the little black box in our homes -- and the horrifying deeds done in the name of entertainment.
Autobiography of creator of game shows including The Dating Game and The Gong Show.
This surprisingly candid, often funny, and entirely moving memoir is Chuck Barris's story about life with his only child, Della. Born on Christmas Eve in 1962, Della was a lovable charmer like her father, an adventurous and quick-witted kid. She had a carefree suburban childhood, even while her father was fast becoming an entertainment superstar, inventing, hosting, and producing his legendary game shows. When Barris and his wife eventually divorced, Della was shuttled between parents in New York and California, then moved from boarding school in Switzerland to Beverly Hills High, among other places. Bored, lonely, and often depressed, she discovered drugs and petty crime early in adolescence, and her escapades soon took on a far more alarming and dangerous aspect. She was lost, yearning for attention and guidance, and growing up in Los Angeles amid temptation everywhere. Her father felt helpless: caring for a daughter was more than Barris had bargained for. Ranging from late-night phone calls from the neighbors to emergency room visits, Della's behavior was out of control. When Della decided at age sixteen to move out on her own, Barris didn't object. He gave her a trust fund and let her go out into the world alone, a regret that he shares with readers here in heartbreaking and clear-eyed detail as he chronicles Della's descent into addiction and her eventual death from an overdose at age thirty-six. But Della is not just a grief-stricken story. Filled with loving memories and spontaneous humor, it is a brave and hard-earned reflection on fatherhood and a tribute to innocence lost.
Art Deco Jr. is heir to a vast fortune, scion of one of America's most powerful men -- Art Deco Sr. -- though by the time we meet him in these pages, Art has fallen into a life of depravity: booze, drugs, you name it. The Deco family is almost too embarrassed to acknowledge him as their own. And by the time Art is found shot dead in his elegant Manhattan apartment, there is a long list of friends and family who may have wanted to kill him -- so the police have their work cut out for them. NYPD detectives Eddie Roach and Jackie Hallerhan are up against a wall when private investigator Jimmy Netts is called on the case by Art Deco Sr. His first case, no less! Netts teams with the NYPD (mostly because he's not exactly sure how to go about solving crimes, much less understands the procedure, and doesn't have a detective's license) to find out who killed poor Art Jr. It could be just about anyone. As a storyteller, the infamous Chuck Barris is the blackest comedian there is. As a satirist, his is a wickedly razor-sharp voice. The deadpan dialogue, investigative snafus, crime drama parody, and cast of hilarious characters in Who Killed Art Deco? bring to mind an unholy combination of Agatha Christie and the Pink Panther, with just a dash of Homicide. This is a dark and delightfully funny book from an equally, delightfully, troubled mind.
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