I quite appreciated that Slate piece on Woodward’s Belushi bio, and understood what the writer was getting at.
For instance, this tongue in cheek description of The Wizard of Oz is accurate — and completely wrongheaded. That’s why it strikes us funny:
Except in Wired, Woodward wasn’t trying to be witty, resulting in an abortion of a book.
It’s more than fair to criticize Woodward as the wrong man for the Belushi bio job, or possibly anyone else’s, life story.
Apparently, his “just the facts” attitude makes it difficult for him to artfully describe those “you had to be there” moments that friends treasure so much — and no wonder: you, well, had to be there.
And Woodward wasn’t.
But other biographers with (What? A lighter touch? More human empathy and experience?) are able to do that.
(I’m thinking of Donald Spoto’s peerless Hollywood life stories, and his fine biography of Jesus.)
We should pay more heed to one comedian’s famous quip that Wired made him think maybe Nixon was innocent after all, and to “jokes” like it.
They may reveal more in one sentence than all the words Woodward wasted on Belushi, and others.
PS: Wired was turned into one of the worst movies ever made. Ever. It aired one night on Channel 29 out of Buffalo and my then boyfriend and I watched it.
Our mouths dropped open — literally — and stayed that way for two hours.
Occasionally we exchanged frightened looks, to reassure ourselves that if one of us was hallucinating, at least the other was too.
Thank God Michael Chiklis recovered. He did a fine job. This mess wasn’t his fault.