Publication Details

Marshall, P. D. 1999, 'The fiction of public life', M/C: A Journal of Media and Culture, vol. 2, no. 1.


One of Woody Allen's first jobs was as a gag/joke writer indirectly for New York gossip columnists. To coordinate with the appearance of famous people at grand openings, Allen would write appropriately witty lines that a star's press agent would work hard to get placed in a newspaper column like Walter Winchell's. The lines would be treated as authentic quotes as the star entered the premiere, club or ceremony (Lax 71). His reputation grew from this ability to see what would be humorous to say in a very public setting, or just generally what would make a particular star look more engaged, more intelligent or more alluring. The presence, at least according to the gossip columnist, was real; what the famous person said was a fiction.