More than six years after it came out, Brooke Shields is still having her fun with Andre Agassi‘s autobiography, Open. The book was widely hailed as a landmark entry in the arena of athletes’ self-reflecting tomes when published in November 2009.
New details about Open‘s origins emerged late Thursday night when Shields, a best-selling author in her own right, appeared on Andy Cohen’s Watch What Happens Live on Bravo alongside fellow actress Heather Graham. A caller asked her how she felt about Agassi’s portrayal of her in said autobiography. What happened next was a delicious live-TV moment: “Oh, I only read the parts that I was in!”
Shields expounded from there. “I was asked to read it by him so that I could correct things that I believed were not correct because he told me that his memory was not that good. And I spent five hours with his ghostwriter. Um, I write my own books, FYI,” Shields said, gesturing broadly toward a vigorously nodding and finger-snapping Cohen. “Anyway!”
Pulitzer Prize winner J.R. Moehringer is widely known to have worked with Agassi on Open, though his involvement with it is more co-writer than ghostwriter (as Agassi praises him in the book’s acknowledgments, as he did on the promotional tour). Moehringer himself penned a memoir, The Tender Bar, that like Shields’ There Was a Little Girl: The Real Story of My Mother and Me, tells the story of living in bars when young—Moehringer as a preteen boy, Shields carried by her alcoholic mother as a baby.
“I corrected things [in Open] that were not as I remembered them, and chronologically, and I have diaries of everything,” Shields said on WWHL, to the surprise of no one. “And then I got a letter back [from Agassi] that said, ‘I’m so sorry I couldn’t change anything because it wasn’t how I remembered it.’ It’s the oldest trick in the book, and I just didn’t get it.”
Cohen, the Real Housewives franchise creator and lover of drama, sought to prompt further reaction from the star before him, but Shields largely demurred. “With all due respect, I did not come across as badly as people might have thought that [Agassi] wanted to, but that’s not who he is. He’s not an evil person. … I come out a little bit like you kind of feel for me more, and I think he did himself in in it. He’s not a horrible person, and his intention was not that. If I felt attacked, I would be in a different position, and I didn’t feel attacked.”
The Spin is a fan of Cohen’s show at large, deleting it from the DVR only when his guests are pairs of well-heeled, no-talent clowns hailing from wig-pulling, adult-Mean-Girl-ing “reality” shows. The format, which lets people pose questions on the phone and via Twitter, rewards candid, off-the-cuff responses.
And that’s just what we got from Shields on this night. She may have been two drinks in, as stars so often are alongside Cohen, but her comments revealed a lot about Agassi, about her, and about what we want from our premier performers on screen and court. Sometimes it’s truly worth watching what happens live.
Follow Jon on Twitter @jonscott9.