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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Pigeon in a Crosswalk by Jack Gray

Pigeon in a Crosswalk by Jack Gray
Published by Simon & Schuster ISBN 978-1-4516-4134-9
Hardcover, $22, 205 pages

Jack Gray is a producer on Anderson Cooper's AC 360 show on CNN, but many people know him from his humorous Twitter account. He has over one million followers, most of whom he says are "scammers or from Malaysia. I'm big in Malaysia."

He also writes the 360 blog online and his boss Anderson Cooper and others convinced him that he should write a book. So he did, and the result is the charming, sweet and hilarious Pigeon in a Crosswalk: Tales of Anxiety and Accidental Glamour.

Gray calls the book a collection of essays rather than a memoir, and I agree with that characterization. He starts the book describing his start in the news business as a ten-year-old- running BNN, a fake news network out of his grandparents' home. He had serious labor issues with his eight-year-old sister, but his experience there started his love of TV news which exist to this day.

He writes lovingly and humorously of his family, especially both sets of his grandparents, with whom he spent a lot of time. He has Greek grandparents on one side, so his descriptions of holiday dinners will ring familiar to anyone who has seen the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

On the other side were his WASPy grandparents, who loved him just as much, but were a little less ebullient about it. I adore that he writes of his family with such warmth.

Gray worked his way up the ladder, working at a cable news station in Boston, where he wrangled Benazir Bhutto into a live interview. He then worked with Boston TV news legend Chet Curtis, where he managed to get an at-home interview with Supreme Court justice Stephen Breyer. Gray succeeded because he was not afraid to try.

He is naturally funny, and just about every page has something you will laugh out loud at. When he got a job at CNN after he wisely turned down an interview for a job with Glenn Beck (yikes!), he has a few great stories about skulking around trying to meet famous people in the green room.

Gray is obsessed by The Golden Girls, and when Betty White was doing The Joy Behar Show, he knew this might be his only chance. He ratchets up the tension as he hides in the hall, planning his moment, dodging security and hoping to get a photo with his idol. You'll have to read the book to find out if he succeeded.

(People who were nice to him- Maria Shriver, Elizabeth Edwards, Robert Redford. People who were not so nice-Barney Frank and Johnny Weir.)

Through his work with Anderson Cooper, Gray became friends with actress/comedienne Kathy Griffin. The chapter on his adventures with Griffin, trying to prevent her from swearing and/or stripping during CNN's New Year's Eve show with Cooper, wandering NYC in the wee hours of the morning looking for doughnuts, staying with Griffin in her fancy LA home and hanging with Maggie, Griffin's mother are laugh-out-loud funny.

This book is for people who liked Justin Halpern's S#*t My Dad Says and Andy Cohen's Most Talkative.  It brings the funny, like those books do, and yet is grounded in a sweetness. If you are offended by cursing though, this book is not for you. But if you are looking for a good laugh, buy this book now.

rating 4 of 5

I saw Anderson Cooper interviewing Jack Gray about the book and my post on that is here.

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