MANDELA WAS LATE traverses the inner universe of a satiric genius who maybe should be getting out of the house a little more often. Wrapped in his cocoon of Hollywood residuals, battling his own (mounting?) foibles day by day, former Seinfeld writer/producer Peter Mehlman somehow manages to see the world a little more clearly than the rest of us.
Ride along through the arc of time drawn by six separate moving violations; only in L.A. can you mark life’s mileposts by the traffic citations you receive. Share the thrill of being nominated for an Emmy, and the agony of not winning . . . early in the evening. Meet a fictive pundit who becomes famous for publishing blank space; a detective who is ready to reopen the O.J. Simpson case and bust it wide open; a parole officer responsible for the newly won freedom of Nelson Mandela; and a Philip Roth who lengthens his literary career by resorting to ‘roids. Go “star trekking” across the urban wilds of Manhattan, hunting celebrity big game; dodge potholes along a memory lane that feels very familiar in spots and bizarrely antic in others; and remember where you were the first time you heard that infamous number. . . 69. Read and laugh and shake your head. Nothing is sacrosanct, including other people’s kids.
Peter Mehlman, after whom a hypochondriacal giraffe was named in the Madagascar movies, lives in in Los Angeles where he writes essays, screenplays, NPR commentaries and hosts the Webby-nominated YouTube series Narrow World of Sports. He grew up in Queens, New York, and graduated from the University of Maryland before writing for the Washington Post and ABC's SportsBeat with Howard Cosell. He has written for Esquire, GQ, the New York Times Magazine and virtually every Conde Nast women's magazine because of his powerful grasp on what women want. He was also a writer and co-executive producer of Seinfeld. Associated with the show through nearly all of its nine-year run, he is well remembered for coining such terms as “spongeworthy” and “yada, yada,” the latter of which has been included as an entry in the Oxford English Dictionary.