Monday, April 30, 2007

Don't You!

Russell Simmons, "the CEO of hip-hop," is apparently doing the full-court publicity press for his new book, DO YOU! 12 Laws to Access the Power in You to Achieve Happiness and Success.

Stephen Colbert interviewed him on "The Colbert Report" last Thursday, and if I were the Gotham Books publicist, I'd have been tearing my hair out afterward. No, make that DURING the show.

Colbert was being his usual contentiously funny self, and Simmons got rattled and allowed himself to be led WAY off-topic. He never answered the Three Big Questions (which I'm putting on fridge magnets to give away at BookExpo):
  • So what?
  • Who cares?
  • What's in it for me?
Obviously realizing that the interview had gotten away from him, Simmons stopped abruptly, stood his book up on the table and, to laughter from the audience, said, "Let's get back to the book!"

To no avail; Colbert swooped in and almost immediately pulled him off-subject again. Worse, Simmons then started looking away and speaking directly to the audience. Colbert nailed him. To gales of laughter, he pointed off-camera and said, "Is there someone out there you're talking to? I'm right here." Simmons barely got a coherent sentence out after that--not that he'd had many before. (See for yourself here.)

After that fiasco, I was rather surprised to see an interview with Simmons in the Sunday NYT Magazine: Hip-Hop Guru. Simmons was more articulate; or more likely, benefited from some editing:

You write extensively about your devotion to yoga in your new self-help book, “Do You!” Is the title your own coinage?
No. It’s an old hip-hop expression: “Do you!” It’s just something we say all the time. It means do what you want to do. Do what inspires you. Don’t be a sheep. Keep it real. The book was originally called “Russell Simmons’ Laws of Success.”

Really? That’s pretty generic.
Oprah renamed the book. [That's about all I got from the Colbert interview.] It was like God calling. She gave me a better title.

But then we have the pièce de résistance (the publicist must need a wig by now):
Why don’t you try dating, say, a professor the next time around?
A professor? I can barely read.

Are you dyslexic?
No. I can read. But I can’t understand anything. I just read “The Autobiography of a Yogi,” by Paramahansa Yogananda, over and over again.

My first thought: And we should read Simmons's book why?

Second thought: I'll bet Simmons didn't even write his book.
(I just checked Amazon. Well whaddaya know! There's a co-writer: Chris Morrow.)

Third thought: I'll bet Simmons didn't even read his book.

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