Star Power And The Grammys

Posted: February 13, 1992

Pardon me, but the idea of nominating Katharine Hepburn for the Grammy in the spoken-word category for Me: Stories of My Life is enough to make a reviewer a touch suspicious of the criteria used.

I suppose the tape (Random House Audio, three hours, abridged, $16) is sufficiently entertaining if you don't mind her wheezing delivery. But best of the year? Forget it. Celebrity status, however, apparently has its benefits when it comes time to select Grammy nominees.

For example, Charles Kuralt and Ken Burns are celebrities, too. Kuralt, the CBS newsman with the ever-so-human touch, is a deserving nominee for his wonderful A Life on the Road (Simon & Schuster, three hours, abridged, $15.95), an autobiographical work of enormous charm.

Burns achieved celebrity status with the Public Broadcasting System series The Civil War. His audio program by the same name (Random House Audio, three hours, abridged, $16) - based on the show's companion book, which he co-wrote - is certainly a defensible Grammy nominee. But let's face it, where would he be in terms of a nomination without the TV show?

The final nominee is Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Dove Audio, six hours, unabridged, $24.95), which - surprise, surprise - was once made into a television series.

By the way, all four works are read by the authors. The winner will be announced Feb. 25.

Nobody asked what other tapes are worthy of honor, but, drawing a distinction - which the Grammy folks don't - between fiction and nonfiction, and sneaking in a tape released too late in 1991 for consideration in this round of awards, here goes:

For fiction, virtually anything read by Will Patton could qualify. This guy, with his sleazy drawl, is a true star of the medium. Of particular note is his reading of Jim Thompson's pulpy The Killer Inside Me (Random House Audio, three hours, abridged, $16).

For nonfiction, Cotter Smith's reading of William Least Heat-Moon's PrairyErth - an inspired examination of the natural and human history of the Flint Hills of Kansas - is a masterpiece (Simon & Schuster Audio, six hours, abridged, $25). Smith is so much in tune with the material that you can't believe you're not listening to the author.


SIMON & SCHUSTER Mail Order Department, 200 Old Tappan Rd., Old Tappan, N.J. 07675; phone 201-767-5000.

RANDOM HOUSE AUDIO 400 Hahn Rd., Westminster, Md. 21157; phone 800-733-3000.

DOVE AUDIO 301 N. Canon Drive, Suite 203, Beverly Hills, Calif. 90210; phone: 800-345-9945

comments powered by Disqus