8:00am PT by Chris Gardner
How a Hollywood Rep's Advice Letters to His Daughter Turned Into a Book
Norman Aladjem — a veteran industry rep who now serves as founder and CEO of management/production company Mainstay Entertainment — was 45 years old when his youngest daughter was born. As "an older dad," Aladjem says he knew that "nothing is given" so a little more than a decade later, to ensure that he would be able to pass life lessons along to Mackenzie Aladjem, he took his wife's advice and wrote a letter.
Thus began a writing project that Aladjem first documented on Facebook by posting a letter a week on the social media platform "to hold myself accountable" before moving the collection over to the aptly titled and well-read blog "Letters to Mackenzie."
On Aug. 7, Aladjem's fatherly discourse finds new life with the publication by Post Hill Press, a division of Simon & Schuster, of a book titled From Me to You: Stories About Life, Love, Family, Faith and How to Negotiate a Bigger Allowance. Aladjem was actually discovered by a book agent with whom he was connected on Facebook.
The agent came across one of the letters and approached him about packaging the collection for a book pitch. "It happened quite serendipitously," Aladjem tells THR of the 195-page book. Aladjem, now 61 while Mackenzie is 16 going on 17 on Sept. 11, says he had the most challenging time putting pen to paper (or, rather, hands on keyboard) for two specific letters. One centered on the death of his sister, Vivien, and the other on "the birds and the bees."
"That one has a much lighter tone, in a way, but is still a conversation between a father and a daughter that's awkward and funny," he explains. "The miracle of this whole project for me is that this stuff actually came out. As a parent, this is as fulfilling a thing as I've ever done." Aladjem, who has two stepdaughters with whom he's very close, says the book strengthened his relationship with Mackenzie (and all of his daughters) because he was able to articulate thoughts and feelings that a father might have a hard time expressing.
But that doesn't mean she's read the whole book yet.
"She's proud of me and excited that I wrote a book but she's also a teenager — too cool for school."
She's also got a sizable IMDb profile. Mackenzie Aladjem has worked as an actress since she was a kid, notably as a series regular on Nurse Jackie and most recently on Hawaii 5-O. She's heading into her senior year of high school, and Aladjem notes that her plan is to go to college and then return to pick up her acting career.
But first, he's got to figure out what to buy her for her upcoming milestone birthday. "I actually thought I was going to bind the letters myself and make them into a book to give to her on her 18th birthday," Aladjem says with a laugh. "Then somebody bought the book."
A version of this story first appeared in the Aug. 8 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.