Sunday, July 17, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: Makeup & Misery: Adventures in the Soap Factory

Love in the Afternoon? Not so much for Makeup Artist Norman Bryn, author of "MAKEUP & MISERY: Adventures in the Soap Factory. An Unauthorized Cosmetic Chronicle of the Disney-ABC Soaps"

Review by Nelson Aspen

This giant (301 large, text-crammed pages) diary of New York makeup artist Norman Bryn is only available for purchase through, which may be why it has yet to incur the wrath of the ABC "Mouse House" he so brazenly bashes. For five years at ALL MY CHILDREN, with stops at ONE LIFE TO LIVE and (an admittedly happier experience at) GUIDING LIGHT along the way, Bryn worked with most of the most well known, memorable stars of daytime's dazzling days...and he's not afraid to express his feelings about them for better or worse.

As a broadcast journalist, a big part of my job is attending press junkets for movies. Bryn is a frequent makeup artist for these affairs and has provided me with touch-ups many times over the years when I work in Manhattan. I ran into him for the film tour of Crazy Stupid Love as I readied to interview Julianne Moore (whom, I might add was delightful in chatting about her shared daytime pedigree with co-stars Marissa Tomei & Kevin Bacon. She admits the discipline and work ethics they learned working on soaps contributed to their overall career longevity.) We naturally mentioned a few mutual acquaintances and the subject of his new book arose.

I dove into it the book right away and admit I was startled by his no-holds barred accounts of run ins with network brass as well as stars, themselves. Not many people would literally thumb their noses at "La Lucci" on a crowded set and go on to tell about it! He lets rip into Kelly Ripa, too, as well as sharing scores of personal photographs and correspondence (does Sarah Michelle Gellar know he's reprinting one of her letters?). This is a man who's unconcerned with "burning bridges" and interested in telling HIS he experienced the industry from his point of view as a crew member. You may well indeed be shocked by some of his anecdotes...but it's compelling nonetheless.

During my own daytime career, the "Hair & Makeup" room to be the go-to place in a studio for catching up on the gossip. Reading this book is almost like being a fly on the wall in those makeup rooms. From GL's Marian Crane serial killer storyline/actor meltdown and OLTL's suspicious "borrowing" of his copyrighted work, to the screen tests for replacing beloved AMC matriarch Ruth Martin (Constance Towers would have been an interesting choice!), there are plenty of backstage shenanigans for fans of the genre. In addition to offering insight into the inner workings, manipulations & machinations of the Soap Opera "suits," it might just change the way you look at some of daytime's most famous faces, too. After all, "faces" are what makeup artists know best!

Nelson Aspen is an International Entertainment & Lifestyles reporter whose recent books DINNER AT NELSON's and HOLLYWOOD INSIDER: EXPOSE! prominently feature his famous friends from the world of Daytime Television. You may visit him at


  1. This sounds interesting. I am wondering if WLS will be reviewing Hinsey's book. It's been out a month or so but I have seen very little coverage on the soap blogs.

    Kim Zimmer's book seems to be getting a lot of attention (that it rightfully deserves!) but it seems suspicious that Hinsey's hasn't been plugged on these blogs very much.

  2. We usually review books that are sent to us. I haven't read Hinsey's book and we haven't heard from anyone associated with the book. Normally a PR team sets up interviews, giveaways, etc. Speaking of Zimmer's book, it's wonderful. Review will be published on August 2.

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