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#Danny Pellegrino on Sharing a Book Publication Day With Britney Spears and Whether He’ll Reunite With Ariana Madix

Danny Pellegrino is used to sharing the spotlight with celebs. On his hit podcast Everything Iconic, the writer and comedian discusses pop culture phenomenons and has interviewed everyone from Elizabeth Olsen to Andy Cohen. In 2019 he wrote Vanderpump Rules stars and then-couple Ariana Madix and Tom Sandoval’s drink recipe collection, Fancy AF Cocktails (in addition to various ghostwriting gigs). But as he publishes his essay collection The Jolliest Bunch: Unhinged Holiday Stories, the follow-up to his New York Times bestselling memoir How Do I Un-Remember This?, he’ll do so alongside the most anticipated celebrity tell-all of recent times: Britney Spears’ The Woman in Me.

“My parents already ordered two copies of it, and I had to force them to pre-order my own book,” he says with a laugh. Pellegrino, true to form, has a healthy sense of humor about the whole thing. He spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about what his fans can expect from the new book (partially inspired by works like David Sedaris’ Holiday on Ice), his concerns about the new season of VPR, and being the opening act, of sorts, for Spears. “I will be consuming Britney’s book the minute it’s released, so I know a lot of people will too,” he adds. “I just hope they pick up mine when they’re done.”

I imagine you wrote your holiday essays before season two of The Bear came out, but I couldn’t help but make some comparisons between your descriptions of chaotic family holidays gone awry and what I saw in “Fishes” …

God, wasn’t that episode so incredible? There’s often one single person that is spearheading the family holidays, and for me that was my mom — but the more she tries to keep it together the more things fall apart. It was fun to tell stories about the absurdities that happen when someone is trying to make the perfect holiday, or the perfect holiday dinner. They often think they’re portraying the perfect version of themselves and that’s not the case. Everyone can see through it, that they’re not keeping themselves together, but somehow they think that they are.

Was your mother concerned about being very central to some of these holiday stories?

She was concerned when my first book came out, because she knew there were going to be family stories in there and she was worried about how she would come across. But then when she read it herself, and heard reactions from friends and family, she realized that even when we the reader were looking at her a little sideways, it was all done with love. I created a little bit of a monster actually, because now she thinks she’s a star. (Laughs.) She’s now very excited about this coming out. She’s read half of it so far and she likes it so far. I also really hope it comes across how much I am turning into my mother myself. I revere her and I note the fact that I’m slowly morphing into Linda Pellegrino.

Did anyone in your life come out of the woodwork after you released your first essay collection?

I did change a lot of names and dates on stories about anyone who wasn’t my immediate family. I heard from people who thought a story was about them, but it wasn’t. I was also very worried about whether I was telling the stories properly, am I representing them correctly, and often times people would tell me details about each story that made them even more wild than how I wrote them. I realized that truth really is stranger than fiction. But no one got mad at me or anything, and I don’t feel as stressed about that happening this time. Ultimately these are meant to make people laugh and I think people will take them in that spirit.

Have you ever been approached to write, or thought about writing, a Bravo-specific book?

When I was trying to sell How Do I Un-Remember This, I was finding a lot of publishers were saying to me, we don’t know about this but would you be interested in an oral history of a Bravo show? I love the Housewives world and all, but I really wanted to tell my own stories and be able to put whatever I wanted into my books. So I was really grateful that I could write my first book, and that it did well enough that now I get to do a holiday collection. But I will inhale every single Bravo-related book that you put in front of me. I even read the Housewives’ memoirs.

You’ve also ghostwritten before — do you find it harder to do that or to write your own material?

For me it’s harder to write somebody else’s book. You have to do it in their voice, and as a creative person it’s so stifling — you could have a joke or a line that you want to say but you can’t because it doesn’t align with the voice of person you’re writing for. You have to censor yourself a lot.

Have you seen a boost in the sales of Fancy AF, the cocktail book you wrote with Tom Sandoval and Ariana Madix, after Scandoval broke?

I don’t know what the numbers were exactly but I do know that it shot up on Amazon. That was surprising to me, because it’s a cocktail book and not a book about the people involved. But I’ve been loving seeing the photos on social media of people rediscovering it — I even saw one where someone FaceTuned Tom out of the cover.

Would you ever help Ariana and Katie [Maloney] write a book of sandwich recipes for Something About Her?

I’m so excited to be able to go and get a sandwich at the shop. I dream of being able to hop into that store. I think Ariana might have a new cocktail book coming out soon, too. But as much as I loved and am so grateful for my experiences ghostwriting and co-writing, I don’t know that I plan to do that anymore. I hope I’m answering that in a PC way. (Laughs.) I would love that book and I would buy it in a heartbeat.

So do you have more ideas for your own books in the future?

I do. I’m really hopeful that people pick up The Jolliest Bunch so that I can keep writing, because I do have two different ideas that I’d like to move forward with. I’ve also loved being able to workshop stories with my podcast audience — especially with the first book, I was really able to hear what they latched on to. They let me know that they loved my family stories, or the way I’d weave in pop culture references. I’m going to write these stories regardless, so I just hope I keep getting an opportunity for an audience to see them.

Are you excited for the new season of Vanderpump Rules, or do you have any concerns coming out of last season?

I’m excited to watch but I don’t think it can be as good as last season. I don’t know if we’ll ever have a moment in the world of reality television again that even comes close to Scandoval. That was a once-in-a-lifetime situation. Even something like the Jen Shah arrest or Erika Jayne’s scandal, although they infiltrated the news ecosystem outside of Bravo, they didn’t have the same impact. My hope for the new season is that they show the impact of Scandoval behind-the-scenes. I want to see the development deals coming together, the cast dynamic as people were getting sponsorships. And the fallout, too.

Is there anything else in pop culture that is really exciting you right now?

I’m very culturally interested in the NSYNC reunion. I know we got a Trolls movie song, but I’m fascinated by whether or not we’re going to get a tour. I need JC [Chasez] to be back in the public consciousness.

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