One of my favorite parts of the Complete Guide is seeing which things are marked with a “*”, for “Only in Stoneybrook,” and which ones are real. Ann/the ghostwriters mention a lot of books, tv shows, movies, etc. beyond Little Women, I Love Lucy, and The Wizard of Oz.
But aside from the odd Jasion Priestly reference in the later years, most of the “celebrities” mentioned exist only in the BSC fictional universe. Even when an author appears on Claudia’s WSTO radio show who is obviously based on Goosebumps author R.L. Stine, he is called Ted Garber, author of the Fright Nights series. (Although now that I think about it, if R.L. Stine did make an appearance, the series could’ve been criticized for advertising another Scholastic property.) Even without googling a name, fans of the books can pretty much take it for granted that if a famous person actually makes an appearance in the books, they’re made up.
There is one exception to this rule I’ve been able to find, however, and it’s a puzzling one. It takes place in California Girls:
“Guess what,” said Derek. “Today we start working with a special guest star.”
Mallory’s eyes widened. “Who?“
Mal and I must have looked puzzled, because Derek said, “She used to be on Broadway all the time. And she’s been in a Woody Allen movie.” (Obviously Derek knew more about such things than we did.)
Now, the reference to Stritch being in a Woody Allen movie (September, I actually like this movie a lot, rent it from Netflix!) does lend some legitimacy to her appearance. Jessi and Mal decide to obtain Stritch’s autograph for Terry, because he is really into movies, and at the end he says that he’s in a Woody Allen phase, perhaps to due to The Autograph. But otherwise, it’s just a bit strange. It wouldn’t have hurt the plot at all to just have some random madeup actress and say that they had worked on Broadway and in feature films. And I’m not saying that Elaine Stritch hasn’t made a significant contribution to theater and film, but she’s not exactly the kind of the celebrity name that kids in elementary school and middle school would recognize.
So why does Elaine Stritch get the honor of being the only Real Person to have a cameo appearance as herself in the BSC? Are she and Ann friends, and her grandnieces were big fans or something? Does Elaine Stritch herself have a secret collection of BSC books that she turns to when she’s feeling down, and wrote Ann, begging for a walk-on part? Is Ann a huge Elaine fan, and her VHS copies of her films are all worn down? (This last one actually seems doubtful to me, because none of her films were ever mentioned in the series.)
It’s puzzling, to say the least. But next time you’re watching 30 Rock, and Colleen Donaghy is on, you can impress your friends and family by sharing with them your keen grasp on Elaine Stritch trivia and letting everyone know that she is the only real person to have appeared in the BSC series.
EDIT: I did just realize that Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves and maybe some other people are mentioned as having eaten at the Blumes’ house. So that’s another celebrity crossover, albeit not one as mystifying or as significant as the Elaine Stritch one.
In this picture, Elaine has obviously just finished telling Kenneth the Page all about the time she met Mal and Jessi.