by Bill Brioux
Praeger Publishers, $39.95
Veteran TV critic Bill Brioux has written a book that's heavily reported, immensely informative, and almost embarrassingly entertaining. The premise of Truth and Rumors is as original as it is ambitious: The idea is to collect, in one book, al the persistent rumors surrounding television shows, stars and events, and separate the facts from the fictions.
If the rumors don't make you drop you jaw, or laugh out loud, the answers will. Brioux employs a writing style that is both breezy and authoritative, as evidenced by this very quick setup to one unusual rumor.
"RUMOR: Joanie Loves Chachi was the biggest TV hit ever in South Korea because 'Chachi' is Korean for 'penis.'
"FALSE: Let's get one thing straight. Joanie Loves Chachi was never a hit, in Korea or anywhere else."
That's gold right there, but Brioux keeps going. He informs readers that yes, "jaw-jee" is a Korean slang term for the male genitalia, and no, the Scott Baio sitcom never aired on regular South Korean TV.
So much ground is covered here - and not just covered, but dug up. Did LBJ really call Walter Cronkite to complain about his CBS newscast while Cronkite was in the middle of that very show? Did a local newswoman in Florida commit suicide on live TV, after announcing to viewers she would do so? And did Michael Jackson provide the voice of a character on The Simpsons?
Through direct reporting, Brioux provides the answers: yes, yes, and yes. And answers to a lot more, in delightful chapters with such titles as "The Naked Truth" and "Ward, I'm Worried about the Beaver."
(Full disclosure: This is a new entry in The Praeger Television Collection, of which I serve as series editor. My duties, for the most part, are little more than "book pimp," steering worthy authors with good ideas to the publisher. The uniqueness of Brioux's concept, and his journalistic flair, are the reasons for my rave here.)
Buy it now