Award Winning Screenwriter’s Book Invites You to ‘Spend a Weekend with a Hollywood Starlet’

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Emmy winner Joseph Dougherty’s “Comfort and Joi” uses one fan’s obsession with a blonde bombshell to explore our fascination with the movies.

Joseph Dougherty has a passion for movies. It began in childhood and led to a career as a writer not only of movies, but for Broadway and television as well. His first book, “Comfort and Joi,” is an imaginative blend of film-fact and fiction about a fan who sets out to document the life and work of bosomy blonde bombshell Joi Lansing. Offbeat movie history from the fringes of Hollywood triggers haunting personal memories as the narrator follows this “beautiful beacon in a Sargasso of bad filmmaking” and finds an unexpected path to his own past.

Dougherty explains that the origins of the book come from his own “low-grade” obsession with the obscure actress who appeared in such “classics” as “Hillbillys in a Haunted House” and “Queen of Outer Space.” “I turned around one day and realized I'd casually collected a stack of still photographs of Joi Lansing, magazines featuring her, recordings, and copies of her movies. As the narrator of the book writes, ‘Obsessions sneak up on you, like snowdrifts.’”

But why the fascination with this particular pin-up who rose from extra girl to work with Orson Welles, only to end her career in grade-z horror pictures?

“The book grew out of that question,” says the author. “I gave my passion for this cinematic footnote of an actress to a fictional character, loaded him up with all my stills and tapes and DVDs and sent him to a house on the California coast during a gray November weekend to see what he'd come up with.

“He tries to write a study of Joi's oeuvre, but it's not easy to apply serious theories of film criticism to movies like ‘Big Foot.’ When theory fails him, he struggles to understand her in terms of his own experiences with the movies. That’s how the pin-up girl becomes the way into a cinematic stream of consciousness.

“One of the reasons I wrote ‘Comfort and Joi’ was to stir the reader into thinking about the movies they grew-up with, that serve as landmarks in their lives. Our personal memories ride along a parallel track with our movie memories. Sometimes we jump the track between the two. ‘Comfort and Joi’ takes place where those worlds blend.”

“Comfort and Joi” is available at

Praise for “Comfort and Joi”:

“Joseph Dougherty is a fantastically gifted writer. His observations are haunting, funny, and completely original.” --Christopher Guest, director of “Waiting for Guffman” and “Best in Show”

“A meditation on movie love structured as tautly as a good noir screenplay.” --Fearless Reviews

“A book about Hollywood and Pop Culture like no other.” --The Fedora Chronicles

Joseph Dougherty received Drama Desk and Critics Outer Circle nominations for his play “Digby” produced at the Manhattan Theatre Club. He wrote the libretto for the Tony winning musical “My Favorite Year” presented at Lincoln Center. An Emmy and Humanitas Prize winner for his work on the groundbreaking series “thirtysomething,” he’s written several movies for HBO including “Cast a Deadly Spell,” nominated for a Ray Bradbury Award by the Mystery Writers of America and selected for screening at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival, and the remake of “Attack of the Fifty-Foot Woman,” starring Daryl Hannah. He has contributed to several popular television series including “Once and Again” and “Saved.” In 2006 he launched “Handwritten Theatre,” a podcast/blog featuring original downloadable drama.


Joseph Dougherty


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