Dart, Iris Rainer
DART, Iris Rainer
PERSONAL: Born in PA; father, a social worker; married Steve Wolf (a concert promoter; divorced); married Steve Dart (in international pay television); children: (first marriage) Gregory; (second marriage) one daughter. Education: Attended Carnegie-Mellon Institute and Columbia University.
ADDRESSES: Home—CA. Agent—Elaine Markson Literary Agency, 44 Greenwich Ave., New York, NY 10011.
The Boys in the Mail Room, Morrow (New York, NY), 1980.
Beaches, Bantam (New York, NY), 1985, Perennial (New York, NY), 2004.
'Til the Real Thing Comes Along, Bantam (New York, NY), 1987.
I'll Be There, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1991.
The Stork Club, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1992.
Show Business Kills, Warner (New York, NY), 1995.
When I Fall in Love, Morrow (New York, NY), 1999.
Some Kind of Miracle, Morrow (New York, NY), 2003.
Also author of screenplay adaptation of her novel When I Fall in Love. Collaborated on an episode of the television series That Girl.
ADAPTATIONS: Beaches was adapted for the screen by Mary Agnes Donoghue and released by Touchstone/Silver Screen Partners IV, 1988; film rights to Show Business Kills have been sold to All Girl Productions.
WORK IN PROGRESS: A Broadway musical, for Bette Midler; All the Rage, a novel and screenplay.
SIDELIGHTS: Iris Rainer Dart is the author of several popular novels. Her first work, The Boys in the Mail Room, concerns four trainees who rise to success after starting in the mail room of the Universal movie studios. The story bears some similarities to that of Dart's husband, who worked in a mail room before establishing himself as a concert promoter. His coworkers in his mail-room era included Mike Medavoy, who went on to become the head of a prominent studio, and Walter Hill and John Badham, both of whom made names for themselves as film directors.
The author's second novel, Beaches, is the story of a long friendship between two women: Roberta, who hails from a wealthy family, and Cee Cee, who is poor and aspires to a career in show business. The rich Roberta eventually contracts a fatal illness, whereupon she makes plans to leave her young daughter in the custody of Cee Cee. Adapted for the screen in 1988, Beaches was produced with Barbara Hershey and Bette Midler in the lead roles, and it was a commercial success. The author followed this with 'Til the Real Thing Comes Along, a semi-autobiographical account of romance between a middle-aged Jewish woman and a younger man from a wealthy family. Problems ensue, particularly between the couple and prospective inlaws, but they eventually find happiness together.
In 1991 Dart issued I'll Be There, a sequel to Beaches. This continuation of the popular novel centers on the strong bond between Cee Cee and Roberta's daughter, Nina. Cee Cee is a highly emotional woman living a chaotic life, and Nina is a more orderly child who is initially repulsed by her foster parent's lifestyle. Together, though, the two characters realize a greater measure of understanding about themselves, each other, and life in general. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly found portions of I'll Be There "forced" but noted that "the novel is essentially generous and vividly readable."
Various scenarios of parenting are explored in Dart's next novel, The Stork Club. A middle-aged character is determined to adopt as a single father; another character has twice given birth through artificial insemination; and two other characters, one of whom is a lesbian, are united in raising a child. Like Dart's previous works, I'll Be There mixes melodrama and humor. Noting problems with the novel's ending, a reviewer for Publishers Weekly nonetheless characterized The Stork Club as "hilarious, maudlin, warmhearted and surprisingly genuine in its emotions."
In Show Business Kills, Dart features themes and settings similar to those found in Beaches. The lead characters in this story, all female, are a soap opera star, a screenwriter, a television producer, and a sitcom star, who have known each other for three decades. The quartet of women are all making their way through midlife crises, making for "an involving story of contemporary Hollywood," mused a Publishers Weekly writer. Contract battles and waning star power pale in significance, however, after one of the four is shot by a mysterious intruder. The story shifts to mystery as the friends look over their past and present lives to try to discover the attacker's identity. "Dart's snappily paced tale is spiced with spot-on doses of black humor, while her insights into female friendships, as always, ring reassuringly true," recommended the Publishers Weeklyreviewer.
When I Fall in Love takes on many themes, including homosexuality, stalking, parenthood and its conflicts, and teenaged love. Quinn Fitzpatrick, a reviewer for the Rocky Mountain News, felt the plot was overburdened, and that "ultimately, the overload interferes with the story's development and impact." The characters include Lily Benjamin, a hard-driving television comedy writer, her housekeeper Elvira, and her son Bryan, a teenager who seems to have it all, until an accident leaves him paralyzed. Lily and Bryan's life is transformed by a disabled man Lily initially scorned. Although the text is enlivened by "sharp, witty jokes," the author 's choices for "situations, relationships and character development are glib and exasperating," in Fitzpatrick's opinion. Erica Sanders, a reviewer for People, found the book's message "gooey," but noted that "a sprinkling of genuinely amusing jokes" help to overcome that failing. Catherine Sias, commenting on When I Fall in Love in Booklist, noted that like the author's other popular novels, this one features "tribulation and triumph laced with a sense of humor."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, June 1, 1993, Laurie Hartshorn, review of The Stork Club, p. 1878; January 1, 1995, Brian McCombie, review of Show Business Kills, p. 799; February 1, 1999, Catherine Sias, review of When I Fall in Love, p. 940; October 15, 2003, Carol Haggas, review of Some Kind of Miracle, p. 356.
Cosmopolitan, May, 1991, p. 46.
Daily News, March 9, 1999, Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith, "Dart Keeping Midler Busy on Stage and Screen," p. L2.
Library Journal, September 15, 1992, Mary Ellen Elsbernd, review of The Stork Club, p. 93; April 1, 1993, Jodi L. Israel, review of The Stork Club, p. 149; October 15, 1994, Francine Fialkoff, review of Show Business Kills, p. 86; September 15, 2003, Samantha J. Gust, review of Some Kind of Miracle, p. 90.
Los Angeles Times, October 15, 1987, p. 1.
People, May 17, 1999, Erica Sanders, review of When I Fall in Love, p. 53.
Publishers Weekly, March 1, 1991, Sybil Steinberg, review of I'll Be There, p. 60; August 24, 1992, review of The Stork Club, p. 62; November 21, 1994, review of Show Business Kills, p. 66; January 26, 1998, Paul Nathan, "Banking on a Promise," p. 24; October 27, 2003, review of Some Kind of Miracle, p. 43.
Rocky Mountain News, April 25, 1999, Quinn Fitzpatrick, review of When I Fall in Love, p. 2E.