Monday, June 21, 2010

Rivers on Rivers: Joan tawks tough

"Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work"

Three stars

By Joe Maniscalco

Few comediennes in American pop culture have achieved the level of success that Joan Rivers has, or for as long as she has.

At 75, the ground-breaking comic — and one-time permanent guest host of “The Tonight Show” — is still at it, no matter the odds.

And the odds are stacked. Despite her past achievements, Rivers has found it difficult in recent years to maintain the level of success that she has always enjoyed.

Attribute that to the normal ebb and flow of any celebrity’s career or the ill-advised plastic surgery that has drastically altered her appearance and even speech pattern.

The anguish Rivers faces today in her professional career is played large in the Break Thru Films production of “Joan Rivers - A Piece of Work. “

Sure, Rivers still tools around in limousines and lives in opulent surroundings, but there’s something genuinely compelling about this self-professed homely girl who loved to act, trying to keep alive the personal industry she started 40 years ago.

Joan hates blank day-books and constantly prods her staff to find her more work. Cruise ship or QVC, it doesn’t really seem matter — except it does. Rivers takes almost any well-paying gig even though the pound of flesh she must pay hurts like hell.

The Comedy Central Roast is the worst. Rivers rationalizes the attacks and tries to convince herself that her skin is thicker than it is — but it isn’t. Even after all these years in show business, personal critiques hurt.

Rivers still has her triumphs. She beats all comers on Donald Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice” — not an insignificant feat when you consider her spot on the show is the first time she has been on NBC since Johnny Carson blackballed her after a falling out in the 1980s.

Rivers may be down, but by the end of “A Piece of Work,” you’re convinced that this Brooklyn gal is not out.

“Joan Rivers – A Piece of Work.” Directed by Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg. Rated R. Runtime 84 minutes. Playing in Brooklyn at Cobble Hill Cinemas.


Wendell,  June 24, 2010 at 4:41 PM  

Joan’s doc is actually an excellent film, it’s stunning visually. Hats off to the directors, and the rest of the crew. Also a round of applause for Joan, she’s fabulous.

Anonymous,  June 24, 2010 at 6:37 PM  

Joan is a treasure. I saw her movie and it was incredible. It was really gripping, I was genuinely affected by Joan’s story, she had a rocky road through stardom.

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