The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple noticed on Tuesday that Michael Wolff, whose White House tell-all Fire and Fury shot up to whatever spot on the bestseller list is higher than No. 1, is canceling loads of appearances for his nationwide book tour. Events in Los Angeles, San Jose, Denver, San Antonio, Kansas City, and Portland, ME, have already been nixed. Pity.
Wemple speculates that Wolff, who seems to enjoy public attention, may have overestimated the level of demand for his live performances. I was curious, so I did some “legwork” to try to really nail down what’s happening here. It got complicated.
Box office representatives for venues in Portland and Los Angeles told me by phone that they didn’t know why Wolff’s speaking engagements had been canceled. A box office rep for the Riverside Theatre in Milwaukee told me that his May 9 lecture there had also been canceled. “They didn’t tell us why. I’m guessing it didn’t sell super well,” the rep said. “But that’s just a guess.”
A woman at the Wellmont Theater in Montclair, NJ, the last stop on Wolff’s tour, said that the theater had been notified that Wolff’s entire event series had been snuffed out. Declining to give her name, she added that the company that organized Wolff’s book tour would have more details as to why.
So I called up Wolff’s publisher, Henry Holt, where a publicist told me that her company had nothing to do with the lectures. But she couldn’t remember the name of the talent agency that did. I finally tracked down contact information for Beachwood Entertainment Collective, a California-based firm that advertised Wolff’s tour on its Facebook page. One phone number listed on its website, for Lauren Mele, led me to voicemail twice. A call to the other—listed as that of Jean Sievers—was answered by a woman who told me she was busy and should direct any questions I might have to her email. By the time I began asking what her email address is, she had already hung up. She didn’t pick up a second call minutes later. What a mystery.
Why would Wolff be having trouble booking gigs? It could have something to do with the appearances he’s already made. If you recall Wolff’s previous tour of “the shows” in the U.S. and Europe, you might remember how he sheepishly insinuated that President Donald Trump was having an affair with someone in the White House “right now.” Wolff was subsequently embarrassed while facing follow-up questions about that seemingly baseless accusation in venues as varied as MSNBC, theSkimm, and Dutch television. When pressed with similar queries on Australia’s Today Show, Wolff even appeared to attempt the age-old “Oh shit, bad reception” trick many of us have used to cut short phone calls with family members. Thankfully for the English-speaking world, Aussie broadcaster Ben Fordham kept the receipts:
So maybe all that FIRE and FURY wound up burning our not-so humble narrator of the Trump administration’s first year in office. For what it’s worth, his book doesn’t seem to need the extra publicity:
It’s so popular, in fact, that at least one other writer is attempting to get a contact high. Washington Examiner media reporter Eddie Scarry is working on his own derivative work, Page Six reports, with the appropriately unimaginative name, Fraud and Fiction: The Real Truth Behind ‘Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.’
Writing takedowns of self-absorbed authors is meaningful work in our troubled times. But I could have sworn this noble task fell under the jurisdiction of blogs—like this one about Wolff, by me, which you should read—rather than another book.
Correction: An earlier version of this story said Wemple was the first to report cancellations on Wolff’s tour, when in fact Scarry had the scooplet.