Based on the Book: First Reactions to GCB

I knew that ABC’s GCB couldn’t be as good as the book, but I was hoping for more. In order to make a series, of course Kim Gatlin’s book is going to be butchered, but there were some major liberties taken in the pilot episode.

Let’s start with the obvious — Leslie Bibb as Amanda is just too tall for this cast! Being around petite actresses like Annie Potts and Kristen Chenoweth makes her look like a freakish giant, and she’s always having to look down at the rest of the women, which even on a beautiful woman can result in ugly chin and neck wrinkles. What were they thinking?

Then there’s the whole plotline of the Secret Admirer gifts. What a letdown to give up on the original plotline where a real Texas hunk is sending the gifts, not one of the tacky neighborhood husbands. Gigi didn’t buy her that stuff in the book and I thought it was a cop-out to let that story go in the first episode. Annie Potts is, however, playing her role with sass and the appropriate amount of sexy-grandma spring in her step. She’s pitch-perfect.

Kristen Chenoweth is such an amazing actress; do we always have to have her do the freakshow over-the-top cartoon character? She got tiresome in Glee and I’m already chafing at her role in GCB. They can’t redeem her, so I hope they soften her up a little to give us back the charm and selective innocence of Glinda the good/bad girl witch.

I had high hopes for GCB; I’m not so sure after tonight’s episode, but I’m not giving up yet. I’m staying tuned for at least another week. What about you?

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Book Club: Good Christian Bitches

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If it’s got Kristin Chenoweth (Wicked, Glee) in it, it’s got my attention. That’s why I was initially attracted to the new television show premiering on March 4 on ABC. Then I found out it was based on a book and I dialed up my public library to get on the list to check it out.

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La divine Chenoweth stars as Carlene Cockburn (in a compilation of characters from the novel), a society maven of one of Dallas’s ritzy neighborhoods, Highland Park Hillside Park. Since I haven’t seen the television show yet, I don’t know how the show will play this change in characterization, but it’s sure to be delightfully naughty.

In the book, the heroine of the piece, Amanda Vaughn, returns to the familiarity and safety of her hometown neighborhood after a nasty separation and impending divorce from her philandering husband. Her two children, not really understanding their mother’s plight, are none too thrilled to be plucked out of their ocean-side home in Newport Beach, California. She is asked to chair the Cattle Baron’s Longhorn Ball after its fundraising efforts for pediatric care have been discredited by the previous chair. Her “good friends” from high school propose this obvious fiasco as a way to drown her failed-marriage sorrows in good works, but their motives are less than charitable — and from thence comes the title. And then there’s the mysterious rich guy…

Apparently the book is a thinly disguised accounting of author Kim Gatlin’s own experience. Only the names have been changed. You should really click into this link and see the discussion, including replies from Kim AND her mother about the book! It’s hysterical.

Although it has garnered lots of controversial press in the Bible Belt, which resulted in a change in the name of the television show from Good Christian Bitches to Good Christian Belles and finally to the sanitized GCB, I’m looking forward to watching the premiere. The book was funny and well-written and in any other socio-political climate would be called the ultimate beach read.

In the comedic hands of Kristin Chenoweth and Annie Potts, who plays Amanda’s mother Gigi, the show has a good chance of being successful. I suggest that you read its inspiration and play the Book 2 Movie game along with me.

I leave you with the best quote I’ve heard this week which my sources tell me comes from Carlene: “Cleavage makes your cross hang straight.”

I hope that Jenners at Life With Books will forgive me for copying her format. It’s so absolutely fabulous that I knew I needed to change my concept — and they say imitation is the highest form of flattery. She reads much more important books than I do, so go over there and check her out.

My Book Club’s More Scintillating Than Your Book Club

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Thanks to a dear friend in my book club, I now have this magnet. It says it all.

Here’s a good idea to make your book club as scintillating as mine…

I started reading  In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin (2011) by Eric Larson on my Kindle. It’s a thought-provoking book, but it took longer than the library’s allotted two weeks to read it. I’m getting back on the queue and the beauty of Kindle is that all my bookmarks, notes, and last page number will be there, waiting for me.


Erik Larson has been widely acclaimed as a master of narrative non-fiction, and in his new book, the bestselling author of Devil in the White City turns his hand to a remarkable story set during Hitler’s rise to power.

The time is 1933, the place, Berlin, when William E. Dodd becomes America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s Germany in a year that proved to be a turning point in history.

A mild-mannered professor from Chicago, Dodd brings along his wife, son, and flamboyant daughter, Martha. At first Martha is entranced by the parties and pomp, and the handsome young men of the Third Reich with their infectious enthusiasm for restoring Germany to a position of world prominence. Enamored of the “New Germany,” she has one affair after another, including with the surprisingly honorable first chief of the Gestapo, Rudolf Diels. But as evidence of Jewish persecution mounts, confirmed by chilling first-person testimony, her father telegraphs his concerns to a largely indifferent State Department back home. Dodd watches with alarm as Jews are attacked, the press is censored, and drafts of frightening new laws begin to circulate. As that first year unfolds and the shadows deepen, the Dodds experience days full of excitement, intrigue, romance–and ultimately, horror, when a climactic spasm of violence and murder reveals Hitler’s true character and ruthless ambition.

Suffused with the tense atmosphere of the period, and with unforgettable portraits of the bizarre Göring and the expectedly charming–yet wholly sinister–Goebbels, In the Garden of Beasts lends a stunning, eyewitness perspective on events as they unfold in real time, revealing an era of surprising nuance and complexity. The result is a dazzling, addictively readable work that speaks volumes about why the world did not recognize the grave threat posed by Hitler until Berlin, and Europe, were awash in blood and terror.

“Larson is a marvelous writer…superb at creating characters with a few short strokes.”—New York Times Book Review

I also have Good Christian Bitches on reserve for obvious reasons. With Kristin Chenoweth at the helm, how can ABC’s new show CGB be bad, even if the book is?

Hopefully, you are also continuing The Louisa Challenge and will be ready to talk Little Women on February 13. I can’t wait to hear what you have to say!

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