Out of print for more than 30 years, now available for the first time as an eBook, this is the controversial story of John Wooden's first 25 years and first 8 NCAA Championships as UCLA Head Basketball Coach. This is the only book that gives a true picture of the character of John Wooden and the influence of his assistant, Jerry Norman, whose contributions Wooden  ignored and tried to bury.

Compiled with more than 40 hours of interviews with Coach Wooden, learn about the man behind the coach. The players tell their their stories in their own words. This is the book that UCLA Athletic Director J.D. Morgan tried to ban.

Click the book to read the first chapter and for ordering information. Also available on Kindle.

Hey Boo (810)

by Tony Medley

Run time 82 minutes

OK for children.

In 1960, Harper Lee, an unknown from Monroeville, Alabama, where for a time she was a neighbor of a little boy named Truman Capote, published her only novel, To kill a Mockingbird. It became a nationwide bestseller, and was made into an award winning movie starring Gregory Peck. But, although Lee helped Capote while he was researching his megahit In Cold Blood, she never published another book. As puzzling, she became a media recluse à la JD Salinger.

On this 50th anniversary of the book’s publishing, Mary McDonagh Murphy, an Emmy-winning CBS News producer, has produced, written, and directed this documentary. She interviews many celebrities like Tom Brokaw, Oprah Winfrey, Jon Meacham, and Andrew Young, who describe how the novel impacted their lives.

One, Anna Quindlen novelist of “One True Thing,” says, “I think one of the reasons I became so obsessed with Harper Lee is because everything that she did convinced me that she was just a grown-up scout who hadn't gone over to the dark side of being a girly girl.”

However, lest one think that Lee was just another Margaret Mitchell (Gone With The Wind) who labored mightily in anonymity and produced a prodigious bestseller writing on her dining room table, Murphy quotes from Lee’s editor at Lippincott, Lee Hohuff, who said,

It needed quite a bit of work. There are many things wrong about it. It was more a collection of short stories than a true novel. Yet there was also life. It was real. People walked solidly under the pages. Obviously a keen and witty and even a wise mind was at work. But was it the mind of a professional novelist? There were dangling threads of a plot. But it was an indication of how seriously we were impressed by the author that we signed a contract at that point. It took two years of constant work before the metamorphosis into what is now known as To Kill a Mockingbird.

So, unlike Mitchell, Lee had quite a bit of help in turning what she originally wrote into the bestseller.

Mark Childress author of Crazy in Alabama, explains how a novelist creates a story, “Anybody who says they don't write out of their own life is lying. Of course they do. All your experiences based out of your own life. But it's do you transform the material. That's what she did. And put such magic on it.”

Novelist Wally Lamb (I Know This Much is True) sheds further light on a novelist's craft, ”You take a survey of the lay of the land that formed you and shaped you and then you begin to lie about it. You tell one lie that turns into a different lie.  After that, those models sort of lift off and become their own people as you originally thought of and when you weave an entire network of lies. What you're really doing if you're aiming to write literary fiction is by telling lies you’re trying to arrive at a deeper truth.

In addition to explaining how and why writers write, the people interviewed explore the reasons why Lee might have failed to publish another book and why she refused to give another media interview after 1964. It also touches on Lee’s troubling relationship with Capote (who claimed, apparently falsely, to have helped her write Mockingbird).

One doesn’t get much closer to Harper Lee in this film, but it is an interesting examination of the esoteric ways of a writer’s professional life, and how and why one book by an unknown writer from a small town in Alabama became enormously influential.

May 09, 2011