Shameless Exploitation

 

by Paul Newman and A. E. Hotchner (Doubleday)

 

(This column first appeared in the February 12, 2004 issue of ArtVoice of Buffalo.)

 

   That egg-swallowing Hondo, Paul Newman, is among my favorite actors so I picked up this book about his venture into food marketing. The book is a fast read and more than worth your time. It is fun to see two amateurs outsmart merchandizers and turn their start with home-brew salad dressing into a multi-million dollar marketing program. But then the book turns to the serious aspect of their adventure. As the rest of their title "in Pursuit of the Common Good" suggests, their profits all go to charity, $250 million so far. And early on they develop their own charity: their "Hole in the Wall Gang" camps for children so ill that they cannot attend normal camps. Suddenly you find their lark turned serious and you read of the wonderful things they and the people everywhere they talk into supporting their projects are doing for these so-needy children. Five U.S. camps now serve children from 31 states and similar European and African camps children from 27 foreign countries with diseases like AIDS, cancer, sickle-cell anemia, hemophilia, epilepsy and spina bifida. (The happiest note in the book is the report that the long-term survival rate of campers has risen from 30% in 1988 to 70% today.) A camp volunteer's comment, "Only later did I realize that the real magic was in how much I came away with," speaks too to the quality of this project and this book.-- Gerry Rising