Arts & Entertainment

Westfield Native Andrew McCarthy Talks About His New Book, ‘Pretty in Pink’ & Coming Home

Andrew McCarthy will be signing copies of “Just Fly Away” at Lord & Taylor in Westfield this weekend. Credits: Algonquin Young Readers
The setting for McCarthy's new novel, “Just Fly Away,” is based on his hometown of Westfield. Credits: Algonquin Young Readers

WESTFIELD, NJ – Though he may best be known as Blane McDonough from the John Hughes classic “Pretty in Pink,” actor/director/writer Andrew McCarthy is, as he says, always moving onward.

McCarthy, 54, recently released his first young adult novel, “Just Fly Away.” The novel tells the story of Lucy, a 15-year-old girl who discovers her father had an affair eight years ago that resulted in a brother she’s never met, who lives in the same town as her. McCarthy, a Westfield native, based the novel’s setting after his own hometown.

“It was a classic, suburban, ‘kids running around outside and be home by 6 o'clock for dinner’ town,” McCarthy said of Westfield. “It was my childhood, my youth.”

Sign Up for E-News

McCarthy spoke from New York City, where he currently lives with his wife and three children. He speaks quickly and with the vaguest hint of an Irish accent. (His wife, Dolores, is Irish). As he talks, the sounds of sirens and honking cars can be heard in the distance.

McCarthy grew up in Westfield until his family moved to Bernardsville at age 15. He attended Pingry School, a New Jersey preparatory school, where he first realized that he wanted to be an actor.

“I was in the play ‘Oliver,’ where I played the Artful Dodger,” he said. “That changed my life.”

Since starring in “Pretty in Pink” in 1986, McCarthy went on to play lead roles in films including “Mannequin” and “Weekend at Bernie’s.” He directed episodes of “Gossip Girl,” “Orange is the New Black” and “Grace and Frankie,” in addition to travel writing and editing for National Geographic. His memoir, “The Longest Way Home: One Man's Quest for the Courage to Settle Down,” was published in 2012.

Does he ever take a vacation?

“Not in the last several years,” McCarthy laughed. “Whenever I travel, I seem to write about it.”

Currently, McCarthy is touring for “Just Fly Away.” He will return to Westfield for the first time in many years this Saturday to promote the book.

“It’ll be very interesting to come back,” McCarthy said. “I hadn’t considered how it would feel until my wife asked. Although I was disappointed to hear Duke’s Deli is an Indian restaurant now. I used to go there and get a number 12.”

Westfield locations pop up frequently in “Just Fly Away.” McCarthy writes about Lucy walking past Tamaques Park, flattening coins on the train tracks and driving down to the Jersey shore. They are, of course, things McCarthy did when he was a teenager.

“It’s the memory of my childhood, of walking the train tracks and playing basketball at my friend Bruce’s house,” McCarthy said. “It was the place in my head, always. When I needed something and thought about it, I went back there.”

That doesn’t mean that McCarthy always enjoyed his early teenage years, though.

“I remember looking in the mirror and begging to see what I’d look like in 10 years,” he said. “I was a scrawny 15-year-old.”

Even though he juggles so many different projects and roles now, McCarthy doesn’t believe he still feels the teenage burden of trying to figure out who you are or what you’re meant to do.

“I came to all these things very late in life,” McCarthy said. “But I do think we’re constantly evolving and changing. At least, I hope so.”

When speaking to McCarthy, it is easy to sense that his words are carefully chosen.

“No,” he said, when asked if he has anything he wants people to know about him. Then, after a pause, he asks … “In what sense?”

In any case, he’s not bothered that he will be perennially associated with the “Brat Pack” label he’s touted since the 80’s.

“It had a huge impact on a generation of people,” McCarthy said about “Pretty in Pink.” “It took young people and their problems seriously, and was one of the first movies to ever do that.”

In some way, McCarthy finds it ironic that he wrote a young adult novel, as his early movies could be considered the film equivalent of today’s YA books, which depict the intense feelings of coming of age.

“It’s a calling to that moment of youth,” he said. “Coming of age is powerful, fraught and very intense. Its poignancy is never forgotten and it’s such a powerful thing. It’s a mess and it can’t be anything else. It’s powerful. I’m proud to do honor to that.”

But don’t expect McCarthy to read any young adult novels. He only read one Harry Potter book, with his son, and he didn’t care to read any more.

“I’m much more of a kitchen sink guy,” McCarthy said. “I’m currently reading Raymond Chandler [a British-American detective fiction writer]. Although ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ and 'To Kill a Mockingbird' would probably be considered YA literature now."

While McCarthy’s next project will be producing and directing “Condor,” a TV version of the movie “Three Days at the Condor,” his kids are now experiencing their own turns in the spotlight.

His son, Sam, is set to act in the comedy film “All These Small Moments.” Sam’s on-screen mother will be played, fittingly, by Molly Ringwald. McCarthy’s oldest daughter, Willow, recently played the title role in Broadway’s adaptation of “Matilda.” She’ll return to Broadway soon in the stage adaptation of “1984,” McCarthy said.

“It’s against my better judgment,” he said with a laugh when asked about his kids becoming actors. “But they’re very much themselves. They grew up around acting. And if you have the acting bug, then it’s something you should try. Whatever people find that makes them happy, they should pursue it.”

Near the end of his interview, McCarthy mentioned returning to his hometown again.

“I guess it will be a little weird now that I’m thinking about it,” he said. “It’ll be really interesting. I’d like to get there a little early and walk around the town a bit.”

He expects the town to have changed since he left, but does hope to visit some of his old haunts.

“I look forward to going to the Rialto, where I spent a lot of time in my youth. I saw ‘Jaws’ there and it changed my life,” McCarthy joked. “It terrified me.”

Andrew McCarthy will sign complimentary copies of “Just Fly Away” at Lord & Taylor in Westfield on April 29 at 1 p.m.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News


Elizabeth Man Gets 25 Years for Sexual Assault of Child at Linden Motel

March 24, 2018

ELIZABETH, NJ - Jonathan Tavara-Nima, 32, of Elizabeth has been sentenced to 25 years in state prison for sexually assaulting a young child he was hired to care for in May of  2017. 

An investigation by the Union County Prosecutor’s Office Special Victims Unit and the Union Police Department revealed Tavara-Nima was hired by the then-6-year-old girl's family in 2016 via the ...

Synopsis of Westfield Board of Education Meeting on March 19

March 22, 2018

Following the board announcements, I noted the increased police presence at each of our ten schools, thanking the town and police department for their efforts.  I also noted that we’ve been working on updating our crisis communication plan in light of today’s climate of instant communication.

Board president Gretchan Ohlig thanked the mayor and police chief for working with ...

Upcoming Events


Sat, March 24, 10:00 AM


March for Our Lives - Westfield

Government Law & Justice

Sat, March 24, 10:00 AM

Burent Middle School , Union

Union County Wide - March for Our Lives

Government Law & Justice


Sun, March 25, 11:00 AM

Shackamaxon Country Club, Scotch Plains

Hear Our Voices: MemoryCare Plays

Health & Wellness

Westfield Police Blotter: More Than $2K Worth of Items Reported Stolen from Business, & More

March 21, 2018

March 11, 2018 6:42 p.m.

Marion Bethea, age 56, of Roselle, was arrested on the strength of an outstanding warrant for her arrest from Columbia Municipal Court in the amount of $500 pursuant to a motor vehicle stop. Subject was processed and released on recognizance.


March 16, 2018 11:16 a.m.

Blas Barquin, age 34, of Cranford, NJ, was arrested on the strength of an outstanding ...

Video: Dietze Indicates Equity Drop Means Investors Should Go Bargain Hunting

March 24, 2018

Point View Wealth Management's Founder, President and Chief Investment Strategist, David Dietze, live on CNBC on taking advantage of market weakness to find investment opportunities right now!

For nearly 25 years, Point View Wealth Management, Inc. has been working with families in Summit and beyond, providing customized portfolio ...

Westfield Parents Host 25th Annual Awareness Expo

More than 200 parents, educators and other members of the Westfield community attended the 25th Annual Awareness Expo on March 14, hearing from well-regarded specialists on such topics as resilience, anxiety, decoding dyslexia and more.

“As a relative newcomer to special education three years ago, I have been overwhelmed by the quality of support this committee offers to ...

Staying On Top

Some people are bulldozers. They move mountains, conquer countries, achieve the seemingly impossible. But then when there are no more mountains to climb, they falter. Routines, maintenance and sustainability are not their strong points. They respond to excitement and challenge, not to the uneventful, monotonous daily grind.

The title word of this week's Parshah, Tzav, means ...

White Standard Poodle Missing from 700 Block of Belvidere Ave. in Plainfield

A Plainfield neighbor in the 700 block of Belvidere Ave. is missing Chanel, her standard white poodle, who ran out the door and was last seen near Leland and Cushing avenues toward Union County College on Wednesday evening.

Chanel is not wearing a collar or tags, and is not micro-chipped.  She has been recently groomed and weighs about 36 pounds.  She is friendly, but may not come if ...

'Trying' explores age, youth and points of history in poignant production

‘Trying’ explores youth, age and points of history in poignant production

By Liz Keill

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – The George Street Playhouse presents an engrossing, two-character play based on the real life of Francis Biddle, former Attorney General.

Biddle, a Harvard educated lawyer, served under Franklin Roosevelt and later Harry Truman during the Nuremberg Tribunal. His ...

Can I Change My Partner?

March 21, 2018

Couples oftentimes look to change the “other.” “If only” the other would make these changes, or do as I say, our relationship would be great. We tend to focus on the other. We tend to focus on changing the other. We tend to focus on the other’s negative behavior. Couples like to report what their spouse/partner is doing and how they are ...

16 Homes Sold Last Week in Westfield, Scotch Plains, Fanwood, Mountainside & Cranford

Sixteen homes sold last week, March 11 to March 18, 2018, in Westfield, Scotch Plains, Fanwood, Mountainside and Cranford:*


TOWN        ADDRESS                  STYLE           RMS    ...


AtlantiCast: Episode 13

On this episode of AtlantiCast, new clinical studies in the fields of cardiology and immunotherapy, national and statewide recognitions for Atlantic Health System medical centers and the inaugural AtlantiCast Collab Challenge!


Financially Savvy Charitable Giving: Donor-Advised Funds

Americans are known to be philanthropic, with an estimated 83% donating to charitable causes. Making the donation convenient and tax-effective is a win-win for both charities and those with a generous heart. Donor-advised funds (DAFs) are a simplistic funding structure available to those with both small and large charitable giving pots.  

Mechanics of Donor Funds

DAFs can be set up ...

Suspended Hillsborough HS Athletic Director Charged with Theft

March 19, 2018

HILLSBOROUGH, NJ — Suspended Hillsborough High School Athletic Director Michael Fanizzi has been arrested and charged with the theft of $10,704 in athletic event receipts over a four-year period from 2013-2017, according to Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson.

Fanizzi, 53, a resident of Conover Way in Hillsborough who had been athletics director for 14 years, had been ...