Willie Geist’s Parenting Advice to Kanye West; Star Jones Celebrates a Birthday

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After the last few head-spinning Wednesdays at Michael’s kept me ricocheting between Hollywood A-listers (Meg Ryan) and tabloid targets (Rachel Uchitel), it was something of a relief to turn my attention to the restaurant’s core constituency of authors and their agents (remember books?) who have always viewed the dining room at 55th & Fifth as a de facto company cafeteria. When I arrived a few minutes before noon and overheard Tom Connor telling L’Oreal Sherman he was meeting Gretchen Young for lunch, I just had to go over and introduce myself. Gretchen was my editor at Hyperion, and we worked together on two bestsellers: I Love You, Mom! a collection of celebrity essays I edited and Objection! which I co-wrote with Nancy Grace. Like I always say, in certain circles, all roads lead to Michael’s.

Now vice president and executive editor at Grand Central Publishing, Gretchen recently signed Tom’s clients Willie Geist and his father Bill Geist to write a father-son book scheduled for publication next year to coincide with Father’s Day. When Willie (who, it should be noted, is quite the snappy dresser) arrived, I asked him if the dapper duo had ever worked together before. “Aside from some yard work, no,” he told me. The yet-to-be-titled tome does have a subtitle: Birds, Bees and Other Conversations We Never Had. “It’s not going to be one of those super earnest father-son books,” says Willie. Bill describes the book as something “born out of our experiences and what we’ve learned from each other.”

“It’s really our humorous take on things,” says Willie, which seems only fitting since his first book, the bestselling American Freak Show, was a send-up of our tabloid culture featuring imagined conversations with characters like ‘President’ Sarah Palin. The upcoming title will chronicle life growing up in the Geist household through a mix of essays and interviews. “I think we’ll both write things and then bounce it off each other,” says Bill. Sounds like there’s no shortage of material. “There’s the time the Christmas presents were accidentally locked in the trunk of dad’s company car and a sledgehammer was wielded,” recalls Willie. “And then there was the summer I was sent off to what was supposed to be an idyllic summer camp in New Hampshire, and I’m not exaggerating when I say the counselors were fresh-out-of-rehab juvenile delinquents, and there were literally knife fights going on around me. We’ll basically write about what not to do.”

Speaking of parenting advice, Willie, a father of two toddlers, is scheduled to appear on the Tonight show Thursday with expectant mother  Kim Kardashian. Any words of wisdom for boyfriend and baby daddy Kanye West? “The booker asked me the same questions and I just broke into laughter. I don’t think my parenting experience bears any resemblance to what Kanye’s will be,” says Willie. “I just don’t see him changing diapers, but I guess you never know.” Perhaps then impeccably dressed Willie might offer fashion victim Kim some pointers on dressing for success rather than excess. We wish we could un-see today’s New York Post cover but it’s burned into a brain for all eternity. Yikes!

I was joined today by my good friend, actress and prolific author Kathryn Leigh Scott, who is in town from Los Angeles promoting her latest book, Down and Out in Beverly Heels (Montlake Romance). Don’t you just love that title? The book tells the story of Meg Barnes, a former television star who had it all and through a series of unfortunate events loses everything and is reduced to living in her car, the “Ritz-Volvo.” Says Kathryn, “It’s a novel that is a light-hearted romance and a mystery, but also shows the gritty truth of the women in Beverly Hills I call ‘shadow women’ who are homeless and hiding it.” Publishers Weekly, Booklist and Kirkus Reviews have all praised Kathryn for her ability to blend her insider’s perspective on Hollywood with witty, fast-paced storytelling.