Out of This World With Winkler, Oliver
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Out of This World With Winkler, Oliver

Hear firsthand from Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver, writers of "Alien Superstar," which will be featured on Nov. 12.

Robyn Spizman Gerson is a New York Times best-selling author of many books, including “When Words Matter Most.” She is also a communications professional and well-known media personality, having appeared often locally on “Atlanta and Company” and nationally on NBC’s “Today” show. For more information go to www.robynspizman.com.

Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver
Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver

The newest book by New York Times best-selling authors Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver, “Alien Superstar,” is the story of an irresistible alien who leaves his home planet and crash lands on earth on Hollywood’s Universal lot.

The main character, Buddy C. Burger, is accidently cast on a television show that goes viral and the alien-turned-celebrity discovers instant stardom in this page-turning book filled with comedic antics, adventures and twists.

In a recent conversation with the authors, well-known Winkler and writer-producer Oliver shared their excitement for returning to Atlanta for the MJCCA Book Festival. They have been here several times for previous book promotions.

“Alien Superstar” touches on several themes, including accepting differences and the challenge of fitting in and finding your place in life. According to a phone interview with Winkler, from California, “The larger lesson of this book is: Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

Henry Winkler

He explained, “The underpinning of this book gives a theme that kids will find truthful and gives an authenticity to storytelling. Regarding Buddy, the alien, kids will identify with him and feel like Buddy feels with the outside looking in.” Like Buddy, kids wonder what happens when they reveal their true selves, Winkler said. “The message of Buddy Burger, the alien superstar, gives a child a sense that this is a real story.”

Teaming up with Oliver, who he called an ideal book-writing partner, Winkler elaborated, “I sit on one side of a desk and she sits on the other. Every story we have told comes out of a discussion ‘What should we write?’ Such as, ‘Oh, this is fun, … children will like this.’ Lin and I know all about working in Hollywood for the greater part of our professional lives.”

I couldn’t resist asking Winkler how he and his main character Buddy are alike. “Buddy is the same insecure actor as me, when I came out here to Hollywood.

Lin Oliver

When I arrived, I was a fish out of a water and went straight from the airport to my agent thinking I would go to an interview and instantly get an audition. The agent said to me, ‘Don’t you want to check into your hotel first?’ and added, ‘it’s going to be hard to send you out on auditions.’ I said, ‘Wow, that’s a $1,000, 3,000-mile mistake.’ I asked her ‘What do you mean?’ So, yes, I completely understand Buddy, who is trying to figure out this strange world of Hollywood.”

Oliver offered, “We loved creating the series “Hank Zipzer” and introducing a character who infiltrates a generation of kids. Hank was finished and we wanted to create the same kind of series that was character driven. Though it’s a comedy, we wanted to make Buddy Burger a kid who you love and want to hang around with. While Buddy is an alien, most kids feel alien, out of place sometimes, and we think that’s the mindset of a lot of kids today.”

In “Alien Superstar,” of course, like in real life, social media explodes, Winkler said. “The first thing that happens in the world of celebrities is that even if its unjustifiable, social media can go viral and anyone can become a celebrity with no justification. Sure, it’s exciting, but even the red carpet comes with frustration, downsides, and celebrity needs to be earned. There are costs and benefits.”

As an astronomical fan of this alien, I inquired what’s next for this rock star alien. “As a matter of fact, we met to discuss that yesterday,” Winkler said. “We’re in the middle now of writing a second novel and there will be three in all, and we’re exploring other mediums.”

Winkler continued, “I absolutely love thinking about aliens and Lin and I have both worked with this topic as I produced a story about ‘Sightings.’” He said, “Writing what you know is the most powerful platform and we researched every bit of the galaxy to discover what’s true.”

When I inquired about the authors’ return to Atlanta for a book festival, Winkler credited our hometown literary icon. “We can’t wait to come back to Atlanta thanks to that fabulous book escort we know named Esther Levine!” I immediately kvelled and told Winkler, “That’s my sister-in-law!” Talk about a small world. Winkler added, “I’m also looking forward to a return visit to Mary Mac’s Tea Room.”

In closing, Winkler summed it up best, “We sit here on Wilshire Boulevard and you never know how a book will be received. Then you have an interview like this one with warmth and enthusiasm and that’s so meaningful. One thing that Lin always says, ‘We want to be the book kids read not because they were assigned it, but it’s the well-worn book in their backpack, … the one they can’t put down.’ We believe comedy is the gateway to long life readers.”

Co-creator Oliver chimed in, “Henry, you mean life-long readers,” and laughter ensued.

It’s clear that Winkler and Oliver can read each other’s minds. Hmmm, … I wonder if that comes with alien powers.

Robyn Spizman Gerson is a New York Times best-selling author and media personality. She is the author of “Loving Out Loud: The Power of a Kind Word,” www.robynspizman.com.

Opening Night Authors Rescheduled

Due to the wildfires near Winkler’s Calif. home, he has rescheduled his appearance with Lin Oliver to Nov. 12 at 7:30 p.m.

Your current tickets will still be good for the new date. If you are unable to attend the new date, you may exchange your ticket for another one of the 45+ authors scheduled during the festival, with the exception of sold-out events.

Please contact the Book Festival of the MJCCA box office at boxoffice@atlantajcc.org or call 678-812-4002 for more information.

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