Thursday, January 03, 2013

Somerville Writer Dan Kimmel: A mix of Borscht Belt humor and Science Fiction.

Somerville Writer Dan Kimmel: A mix of Borscht Belt humor and Science Fiction.

Daniel critic, author, movie historian - Photo Credit Carsten Turner
Dan Kimmel

By Doug Holder

  Well, since the predictions of the Mayans have failed to see the light of day, I was able to meet with Somerville film critic and science fiction writer Dan Kimmel. Kimmel is the author of a number of books including: The Fourth Network: How Fox Broke the Rules and Reinvented TV, and I’ll Have What She’s Having: Behind the Scenes of the Great Romantic Comedies. Since we spoke two years ago, probably at the same booth at the Diesel Cafe, Kimmel was nominated for a HUGO AWARD for his essay collection Jar -Jar Blinks Must Die. Kimmel also has released a science fiction novel Shh! It’s A Secret. The novel concerns space aliens in the La La Land of Hollywood.

  Kimmel is a resident of the Ball Square section of the city, and he teaches film at Suffolk University in Boston. He is a member of Temple B’nai  B’rith on Central Street, and he told me he feels quite at home now in the environs of Somerville.

 Kimmel revealed that a small press in Brooklyn Fantastic Books—a press that usually deals with reprints—took a chance on Shh! It’s A Secret!

  Shh! It’s a Secret deals with a space alien who wants to be an actor. The alien has the unlikely name of Abe—maybe a Jewish alien? The story also involves Jake Berman, a Hollywood player who helps the alien realize his fevered dream. The book is a science fiction/satire of Hollywood—laced with Borscht-Belt humor. Infact, Kimmel, who is from the New York City area, worked at a Borscht Belt hotel in the Catskill Mountains outside of New York City, and such a hotel is used in his novel.

 Kimmel has also written plays. One titled The Waldorf Conference, deals with the Hollywood Black List era. Such tinsel town luminaries as Louie Mayer and Harry Cohn make an appearance.

  Since Kimmel has written extensively about romantic comedy films, I asked him what his favorites were. Kimmel favors the 1930s films: Trouble in Paradise and My Man Godfrey, as well as Frank Capra’s It Happened One Night. Hl also lists My Man Godfrey.

   Kimmel’s choices for more contemporary films are Love Actually, Annie Hall and When Harry Met Sally.

  The formula for a good romantic comedy according to Kimmel is: “You have two characters who need something from the other. In the case of Harry and Sally, Sally is wound tight—and Harry is much more expansive—so they complement each other. They wind up helping each other. They eventually find that they are the same species.

  Kimmel will be reading from his new book Jan 27, 2013 at The Book Shop at Ball Square. I hope you can be there for his brand of humor and insight, not to mention the spinning of a good tale.

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