suppose it's not shocking that the writer behind such shows as Family Ties and Spin City knows how to tell a funny, poignant story. But I was surprised at how pleasantly readable Gary David Goldberg's memoir turned out to be. Strong on humorous turns of phrase and jokes repeated just enough to become welcomingly familiar, coated in Hollywood madness and big-name icons, the story jumps around in time from the mid-1950s to 2006. We follow Goldberg from his working-class Brooklyn family to his hippie days hitching through Europe, from his misguided attempt to live alongside the L.A. "river" to the wealthy, upper-class community of Brentwood, Calif., before he finally lands on the front porch of a Vermont farmhouse.
Constant throughout is the presence of Goldberg's wife, Diana, with whom he seems to share everything, and to a lesser extent his dog, Ubu, whom you'll recognize from the closing credits of Goldberg's shows. While it's hard to imagine someone as perfect as Goldberg makes Diana out to be, her struggles provide the climax to his personal story. His gratitude and love for her is palpable, keeping him humble as he recounts his ascent. On the professional side, his relationship with Michael J. Fox, which began idyllically but foundered on issues of creative control on Spin City, gives readers a look at the frustrations and limitations of people working at the top of a coveted, high-stakes game.
While there are plenty of anecdotes for those itching to understand the world of TV sitcoms, the book is far from a how-to-conquer-Hollywood manual. Goldberg seems to have fallen into writing almost by luck and, strangely, most of his success seems to have come effortlessly. I suppose that's what people with great talent do: make it look easy. Instead of engendering jealousy, however, Goldberg's memoir gives you a strange sense of peace. If this guy could do it—hang on to his head and the love of his life—why can't you?
Reviewed by Jackie Apodaca