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Deggans to introduce Jane Velez-Mitchell and Amber Tamblyn at Times Festival of Reading



It may be the oddest double-team of introductions I've tackled in all my years appearing at the Times Festival of Reading.

Iwant-velez-mitchell At 10 a.m. Saturday, I'll introduce Jane Velez-Mitchell, the brassy CNN Headline News host who just wrote a confessional memoir, i Want, detailing her struggles with alcoholism, breast cancer and coming out as a lesbian at age 51.

With Nancy Grace and new addition Joy Behar, Velez-Mitchell forms a trio of strong female hosts who are boosting rating at Headline News, where she landed a show after uber-conservative Glenn Beck took off for Fox News Channel.

But I'm still wondering how the high-flying host of a cable newschannel opinion show and the author of a hot memoir lives up to the subtitle of her book: "My journey from addiction and overconsumption to a simpler, honest life." Because, from the outside, her life looks anything but simple.

Bangditto-tamblyn Four hours later, I'll be introducing audiences to Amber Tamblyn, the former star of CBS' Joan of Arcadia and ABC's The Unusuals, who has a book of poems, Bang Ditto, about life from the perspective of an actress in the public eye since her tween years.

Not sure if people who don't know show business and television will really get poems with titles like "Role Research" and "Dear Demographic," but I'm eager to see her interpret these works in person (I also want to tell her that The Unusuals had to be the best TV show unjustly canceled last season; just kept getting better as viewership kept going down).

Both ladies will be speaking at the USF Campus Activities Center in St. Petersburg; the big stage for the reading festival. If you love literature and literacy, there is no cooler place to spend a day; surrounded by folks who are more familiar with Capote and Updike than Balloon Boy and Jon Gosselin.

Others authors giving free lectures include former Sen. Bob Graham, historian Taylor Branch, funnyman Andy Borowitz, historian Ray Arsenault, the team from our Pulitzer Prize-winning Web site PolitiFact and Times writers such as Jeff Klinkenberg, Craig Pittman and Matt Waite.

It all takes place at the University of South Florida campus in St. Petersburg with the earliest lectures set for 10 a.m. Book signings and other activities are planned for the festival, which lasts until 5 p.m.

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[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 3:02pm]


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