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Fired!: Tales of the Canned, Canceled, Downsized, and Dismissedby Annabelle Gurwitch
Synopses & Reviews
If you've ever been fired, you're in good company. That's what actress and writer Annabelle Gurwitch discovered when she was fired by her idol Woody Allen ("You look retarded"). She confided her tale of woe to her friend Felicity Huffman, who made Annabelle laugh with her own stories. Annabelle realized that there was a world of people out there waiting to laugh at the experience that virtually everyone shares, and she began to collect stories of being fired from friends and colleagues. Soon she was contributing regular "Fired!" segments to Day to Day on NPR and gathering friends to appear with her in sold-out performances of Fired! in Los Angeles and New York. Fired!, her documentary film inspired by these stories, comes out in 2006.
This book is a collection of hilarious but true tales from people who've all gotten the ax, the boot, or been canned at some point in their lives. In "That's a Fact," Andy Borowitz tells the story of being fired as a writer for the television sitcom The Facts of Life after being informed that he just didn't "get" Tootie. "Take that hanger off your head, you idiot!" were the last words Jeff Garlin heard before being fired from Spec's Music store after only one day on the job, just one of the many firings he recounts in "That Garlin Boy." In "Jimmy the Idiot," Dana Gould sums up his firing from the cast of the sitcom Working that led him to become a producer of The Simpsons: "In the second episode, I was a math genius, in the third — a motocross racer, and in the fourth episode I was replaced by a chimp, but nobody noticed." In "Poor Judgment," Illeana Douglas tells about being fired after a few hours of working as a coat check girl: "How is it possible to be fired from hanging coats? I have arms. I know what coats are. I don't come home and throw my coat on the floor. I hang it in a closet. I have experience." How did Bob Saget find out he was being phased out of his job on The Morning Program? "One day I showed up and my hosting chair was gone!"
With an all-star cast from Tim Allen to Morgan Spurlock, from Anne Meara to David Cross, and contributions from people from all over the country, this book proves it's not the bounce that counts, it's the bounce back.
"Gurwitch's popular Web site (www.firedbyannabellegurwitch.com) entices people to turn in their best tales of their worst firings; the cream of that crop is gathered in this star-studded collection of misery. The book is divided into chapters with titles like 'The Job So Terrible You Can Only Hope to Be Fired' and 'The Time You Deserved to Be Fired,' but mostly it's just tales of horrible things happening to funny people. Gurwitch's own piece — in which she's canned from her role in a play written and directed by an officious Woody Allen, who told her 'You look retarded' — is par for the course, with its droll humor and dash of celebrity. Comedians Bill Maher, D.L. Hughley, Bob Saget and Andy Borowitz all get in their zingers, while Illeana Douglas composes a poem that ranges from getting fired as a coat check girl ('How is it/possible to be fired hanging coats?/I have arms. I know what coats are') to high farce with borderline psychotic filmmakers. The few noncelebrities invited to share their woes are generally less funny, though they tend to be more unpredictable, such as the ex?White House chef who provides a nice recipe for seared scallops. (Mar. 7)" Publishers Weekly Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
"Gurwitch's popular Web site (www.firedbyannabellegurwitch.com) entices people to turn in their best tales of their worst firings; the cream of that crop is gathered in this star-studded collection of misery. The book is divided into chapters with titles like 'The Job So Terrible You Can Only Hope to Be Fired' and 'The Time You Deserved to Be Fired,' but mostly it's just tales of horrible things happening to funny people. Gurwitch's own piece — in which she's canned from her role in a play written and directed by an officious Woody Allen, who told her 'You look retarded' — is par for the course, with its droll humor and dash of celebrity. Comedians Bill Maher, D.L. Hughley, Bob Saget and Andy Borowitz all get in their zingers, while Illeana Douglas composes a poem that ranges from getting fired as a coat check girl ('How is it/possible to be fired hanging coats?/I have arms. I know what coats are') to high farce with borderline psychotic filmmakers. The few noncelebrities invited to share their woes are generally less funny, though they tend to be more unpredictable, such as the ex — White House chef who provides a nice recipe for seared scallops." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Getting hired by Woody Allen? Hundreds of actors can make that boast; it's not a very exclusive club anymore. But getting fired by Woody Allen? That's a rarer, or at least less public, phenomenon, and in 2003 Annabelle Gurwitch had the good fortune to experience it for herself. After casting the actress in a play he had written, Allen started doubting her abilities soon after they went into rehearsals.... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) 'You look retarded,' he told her during one critique. Shortly thereafter, Gurwitch found herself out of a gig. Shame and depression followed, but it turns out that Gurwitch's friends, and even her dry cleaner, loved hearing about her brushoff with greatness. To console her, they shared their own accounts of workplace rejection, and thus was born 'Fired!,' an anthology with contributions from Tim Allen, Felicity Huffman and various other famous and semi-famous entertainment-industry professionals. It's a great idea for a book, because getting fired — or at least getting fired from a job you don't care about very much — is the perfect catalyst for storytelling. It's a traumatic event, but not as traumatic as, say, learning you having a horrible disease or getting dumped by a lover. But even when you get canned from a job that you endured because it was just a temporary diversion from your true calling in life, there's still the sting of rejection, the stink of failure. Getting fired tests your character in a pointed but manageable way. Unless you're the kind of person who keeps huge stockpiles of ammo hidden in your cubicle — but this isn't that kind of book. Here, the tales of awful jobs, capricious bosses and just and unjust terminations are sometimes dark but ultimately played for laughs, adding up to a caustic but merry compendium of failure. Take, for example, actor Tate Donovan's plight. Not only was he replaced by Matthew Broderick while shooting the movie version of 'Torch Song Trilogy,' but he also suffered the indignity of having to watch Broderick assume his role, because many of the scenes were being shot in front of Donovan's apartment building. 'In perhaps one of the darkest and pettiest moments of my life, I called the police to complain about the noise from the production,' he writes. 'I thought all my prayers were answered when I heard the sirens blaring, only to peer down and see Matthew signing autographs and taking pictures with New York's finest!' Sometimes, however, the impulse toward revenge manifests itself in more satisfying fashion. Gurwitch's own story is a good example of that phenomenon; she's turned her Woody Allen moment into a cottage industry of sorts. First, she used it as the centerpiece for a live theater show, now it's a book, and apparently a feature-length documentary is in the works, too. Meanwhile, critics in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times described Allen's play as 'weirdly dated' and 'a little secondhand.' But if Gurwitch gets the last laugh, the curmudgeonly director still gets one of the best lines. 'What you're doing is terrible, none of it good, all of it bad,' he told her before giving her the boot. 'Don't ever do that again, even in another play.' If he can find a dozen or so other bosses who dress down their underlings with such brisk venom, he could publish a pretty entertaining anthology of his own." Reviewed by Greg Beato, who has written for Reason, Spin and many other publications, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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"It's the best kind of comedy — rooted in empathy and with a serious point. People love to hear these stories. People need to hear these stories." Patrick Beach, Cox News Service
"A frank and funny look at job loss and downsizing." Madeline Osberger, The Associated Press
"A comedic twist — to all those who have been advised by a boss that their services are no longer required." Stewart Oksenhorn, The Aspen Times
"She has turned her misfortune into an entertainment most of us can identify with." John Defore, Hollywood Reporter
"Despite the wisecracking in Fired! the book is clearly intended to inspire." Wall Street Journal
From an all-star lineup of contributors comes this collection of hilarious-but-true tales of being axed, downsized, booted, pink-slipped, and terminated. Soon to be a touring play and a documentary film.
Table of Contents
Who Came Up with the Phrase "You're fired"?
Chapter 1: The Job So Terrible You Can Only Hope to Be Fired
Chapter 2: The Firing You Didn't See Coming
Chapter 3: The Time You Deserved to Be Fired
Chapter 4: The Time Getting Fired Leads You to Something Better
Chapter 5: The Time You Had to Fire Yourself
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