My name is Gary Baum and I’m a senior writer at The Hollywood Reporter, where I’ve worked for more than a decade. I focus on investigative features. Topics have included murder, sexual assault, animal mistreatment, elder abuse, high-control groups, medical quackery, police negligence, labor exploitation, racial discrimination, tax evasion, various forms of fraud and myriad corruptions of corporate power. “Angelyne,” a new limited series on Peacock starring Emmy Rossum (Shameless), is based on my revealing coverage of a mysterious L.A. figure. Alex Karpovsky (Girls) portrays a fictionalized version of me on the show.

EDIT, 11:40AM: Thanks everyone — I need to head out to do some reporting now, but this has been great!


Comments: 220 • Responses: 18  • Date: 

iseaplantsandtrees136 karma

Hi Gary, how do you reconcile this kind of investigative journalism with knowing the focus of your story did not want the details of her pre-public life revealed? From what I understand, Ronia created "Angelyne" the character after moving to LA, then Ronia went on to fully inhibit the Angelyne character and live in her full time. Isn’t that what countless other actors and professionals have done after moving to LA? Would you feel comfortable exposing the details of a non-famous person’s private life if they made it clear to you they did not want to experience that?

hollywoodreporter135 karma

As I told LA Weekly when it posed the same question shortly after my investigation was published, Angelyne is a famous person who sought her notoriety. We journalists don't require permission to uncover truths about public figures.

just_bob-26 karma

Still a dick move though...

hollywoodreporter40 karma

Journalism is rude.

torknorggren92 karma

What's the tl;dr on Angelyne's past?

hollywoodreporter167 karma

To quote the investigation: "she’s the locally raised daughter of Holocaust survivors, a Jew who has found refuge in shiksa drag."

MajesticAddendum647845 karma

You've reported on elder abuse and other horrible things, how do you keep sane? Being confronted with the darkest side of humanity has got to have some consequences on your thinking or no? I can't even hear about any child/elder abuse because it makes my blood boil, how do you cope? Sorry for the grammatical mistakes English is not my first language.

hollywoodreporter64 karma

Frankly, it can be tough. This type of journalism requires a disposition that can handle it. Luckily, I have a supportive network of colleagues, friends and family. That certainly helps. Also, between the darkest stories, I pursue lighter ones, including keeping up a bit of a sideline in... reporting on food!

edwardcullnrunning34 karma

What was she like in real life?

hollywoodreporter159 karma

I've interviewed thousands of people in my career, from all walks of life. Angelyne was notably combative and controlling. Emmy Rossum's portrayal is generous and big-hearted.

Dobodjob21 karma

What was Angelyne's réaction towords you uncovering her secrets ?

hollywoodreporter66 karma

She wasn’t pleased that my examination, which I undertook — and think was received by most — in a spirit of compassion, undermined her preferred narrative. But my task as a journalist isn’t to please those I’m writing about. It’s to reveal their truths.

cryfi18 karma

What inspired you so write this story?

hollywoodreporter76 karma

Like many, I'd long been intrigued by the mystery of Angelyne, and wanted to better understand her. In Los Angeles, she'd long been perceived as a joke, but I believed she was worthy of serious consideration.

Beyond this, my beat at The Hollywood Reporter encompasses Los Angeles phenomena and landmarks. This has led me to write about coastal erosion at Malibu beaches, terrazzo degradation at the Walk of Fame and public access to the Hollywood Sign. Looking into Angelyne fit into my bailiwick.

eas091318 karma

How much time did you spend with Angelyne before publishing your final story?

hollywoodreporter66 karma

For the 2015 profile, we met on a couple of occasions before she formally agreed to the piece, first at the since-shuttered French Market in West Hollywood (one of her haunts) and then at Canter's Deli in the Fairfax District. For that piece, we spent one day — from late morning to late evening — driving around the city in her Corvette Stingray 1LT.

For the 2017 investigation, she refused to engage with me, despite my many attempts over months to speak with her. Finally, one night at random, while at work on a separate story, I saw her car parked out front of the Rainbow Bar & Grill on Sunset Blvd., and as depicted in the piece, I confronted her.

ohnobuckaroo15 karma

You have covered so much in regard to LA: politics and elections, Hollywood’s machinery and glamour, food, drugs, sex (and misconduct), our environment, schools… you truly turn every rock. I’ve long appreciated your reporting for the ways you balance both the “here and now” and tying back to the history of LA (even if problematic, especially if) for a full view illustration. Your story on Angelyne is one great representation of that.

What other profiles have you been inspired to write about/are super proud of? What are ones you want to sink your teeth into? Have there been any that were far more expanding than you initially anticipated, once you started digging in?

Dobodjob13 karma

Did you have any privilege regarding the show ? Have you been invited to the première, or in the set ?

hollywoodreporter27 karma

As a consultant, I met with the producers and the writers, answering questions and later providing notes on drafts of the script. Later, the show came to me, when production shot at my newsroom. (The fictionalized version of me, Jeff Glaser, played by Alex Karpovsky, sits at a desk opposite mine.) I also attended the premiere.

monteraymond3712 karma

What is it like seeing a character of yourself in a TV show?

hollywoodreporter27 karma

It's absolutely surreal. As a journalist, my goal is to disappear. It's bizarre to find myself now depicted within the frame of the story itself!

monteraymond377 karma

Did you meet him irl? Did he remind u of yourself?

hollywoodreporter35 karma

Yes, the actor, Alex Karpovsky (best known for playing Ray on HBO's "Girls"), met and had lunch with me the day the production shot at our Los Angeles newsroom. (He sits at a desk immediately adjacent to the one I used; we've since relocated our office.)

People I know have told me that Alex captured my mannerisms. He joked to me at the premiere that we've just got the same Jewish vibe — gesticulating any less would've been an anti-Semitic acting choice!

ChoiceStandard218611 karma

How long did it take you?

hollywoodreporter28 karma

I received an initial set of raw documentation from the genealogist tipster. It took me roughly six months to corroborate it while building out additional, contextual research and reporting. This included locating and speaking to other pertinent living sources, such as the ex-husband. (I was working on separate journalism projects at the time as well.)

Dobodjob6 karma

When was the last time you saw Angelyne ?

hollywoodreporter12 karma

At the Rainbow Bar & Grill, as depicted in the 2017 story.

SirJ4ck4 karma

Never got interested in the Black Dahlia case?

hollywoodreporter17 karma

I'm certainly interested in the Black Dahlia case. What I need is a way to advance it. If you have a tip, I'm all ears...

Dobodjob3 karma

Whats your favorite episode of the show ?

hollywoodreporter16 karma

Perhaps the third or the fifth (final) episode. While all of the episodes play with surrealism and magical realism, these two in particular find ways to incorporate fantasy in the pursuit of authenticity in ways which I think are entertaining, enlightening and true to Angelyne.

acoradreddit3 karma

Did they pay you to base the show on your research? How much (roughly)?

hollywoodreporter18 karma

As a staff writer at The Hollywood Reporter, the publication's parent company owned the rights to the material. As for the specifics of the deal and my compensation, I'm going to keep that private!

Dobodjob-2 karma

Does someone asked you to play your own rôle on the show ?

hollywoodreporter11 karma

Nobody asked me to play the fictionalized version of me on the show, and I certainly wouldn't be qualified — I can't act!