Eventually I went to the to-read list instead and grabbed the Kindle edition of "Elimination Night," the "American Idol" roman a clef written by Anonymous, who was clearly a staffer of some kind on the show during Season 11, when the judging panel included Massachusetts' own Steven Tyler alongside Jennifer Lopez. That was the last time we really tuned in "Idol" in my house, drawn by the car-crash, you-just-have-to-look possibilities of a show with, well, Steve Tyler and Jennifer Lopez.
The book, published a year ago, tries to be caustic and funny about the backstage scene at the show it calls "Project Icon." It makes fun of former judge Simon Cowell's nipples (he's Nigel Crowther) and host Ryan Seacrest's relentless careerism (he's Wayne Shoreline, aka Hostbot 9000). Lopez becomes the gazillionaire homegirl Bibi Vasquez, with a lethal ego and her tits and ass insured for $100 million (apiece, I think).
Aerosmith's Tyler here becomes Joey Lovecraft of the currently-on-hiatus band Honeyload. The band split after Joey took a symbolic - there's no good way to say this - dump on stage during a concert and then fell off the stage, really ticking off guitarist Blade Morgan. (Joe Perry, come on down!) Joey joins the "American Icon" judging panel because he "wanted to get Honeyload back together. Or, more accurately, he wanted Blade Morgan to beg him to return as lead singer."
Anonymous actually does a pretty good job broad-brushing the asinine-but-entertaining side of Tyler's public persona. Joey makes dubious comments about the attractiveness of underage contestants (here that goes to its logical conclusion) while rising from the depths of every substance-abuse relapse to say just the right thing. When someone asks Joey how he'd feel about J-Lo, er, Bibi joining him at the judges' table, Joey says, "As long as I have a face, Bibi Vasquez will always - always - have a place to sit." That's our Steve Joey!
I actually felt bad for Randy Jackson, who is portrayed here as a lonely, fat white boy named JD Coolz (nee Jason Dee) who grew up in a black neighborhood in Bakersfield, taught himself to play bass and "became a fixture in the weed-smoking rooms of all the major recording studios." Now he "moved slow, wore a lot of jewelry, communicated only in fist bumps and monosyllabic slang," manifesting "a Great Dane-like lovability." Ouch.
To be frank, though, as you've probably gathered by now, "Primary Colors" this isn't. The book's satire is broad and slapdash. Joey Lovecraft jumps out of an airplane apparently without a parachute just to make a point. Twice. And the story's narrator, an assistant producer named Sasha, has nothing to add.
Fact is, "American Idol" and its personalities are pretty much beyond parody, as is the entire modern reality TV/celebrity-industrial complex. Even the great Carl Hiaasen fell short in his attempt to mount an attack on its Britney Spears/Lindsay Lohan flank in "Star Island." "Elimination Night's" essential superfluity is revealed by fact that, at least according to the first few pages of my Google search, no one has ever exposed the author and gotten them fired from the show. Working there is, clearly, its own special kind of hell.
At the moment, though, it's only $2 in Amazon's Kindle store, if you're interested.