“Hollywood Animal: A Memoir“ by Joe Eszterhas
Hands down, this is the most entertaining of the bunch, and certainly the most outrageous. If his name doesn‘t ring a bell, then some of his credits should. Eszterhas has a reputation as a highly overpaid and moderately talented scribe who has made an indelible contribution to world culture with screenplays like “Basic Instinct,“ “Jade,“ “Jagged Edge,“ “Flashdance“ and, most notably, “Showgirls.“ As a result, he‘s become both the most famous - and infamous - scribe in Hollywood.
To get to that point, all of which is brought to quite a climax in this “raw, spine-chilling celebration of the human spirit,“ Eszterhas lays out his early years, which began in post-WWII refugee camps in Europe before coming to the United States in search of the American dream. Once here, he wasted no time before learning to steal cars and roll drunks. His saga has every cliche in the book, and as he battles his way to the “top“ to become the first screenwriter to be chosen as one of the movie industry‘s 100 Most Powerful People, he is seen as everything from a modern-day Shakespeare to the devil incarnate.
The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle, and Eszterhas, as presented by Eszerthas is a “complex and paradoxical figure“ - a devout churchgoer who purveyed new lows for gratuitous sex and violence in films. Along with the late producer Don Simpson and former bad boy Charlie Sheen, Eszterhas became a symbol of Hollywood excess and depravity. Redemption is always possible, though, and the end of this often jaw-dropping memoir finds the writer moving his family to Ohio, where they can all happily immerse themselves in the Midwestern lifestyle and values he says are at the core of his being.
Sometimes hilarious and sometimes excruciating (especially for some of the subjects in the book like Sharon Stone, who rewarded Eszterhas with a night of passion as a thank you for his crafting her the role of a lifetime), there are also a number of chapters that prove insightful and revealing on the inner workings of the movie industry. All in all, not a bad way to pass the time, but a real must for filmophiles who thought they‘d pretty much heard it all.
“Hollywood, Interrupted“ by Andrew Breitbart and Mark Ebner
Bretitbart and Ebner‘s book is due out at the end of the month, but insiders have been buzzing about it for some time now, and given some of the world‘s recent, incessant, obsessive preoccupation with celebs and scandals that range from Bennifer and Michael Jackson to Paris Hilton and Janet Jackson, the timing seems right for a book dedicated to the often bizarre behavior on the part of celebrities and why the rest of us are so fascinated by it.
Until it is published on February 24, we‘ll just have to wait in anticipation, but in the meantime, here is what the authors are promising us, courtesy of the book description on its back jacket:
“‘Hollywood, Interrupted‘ is a sometimes frightening, occasionally sad, and frequently hysterical odyssey into the darkest realms of showbiz pathology, the endless stream of meltdowns and flameouts, and the inexplicable behavior on the part of show business personalities.
Charting celebrities from rehab to retox, to jails, cults, institutions, near-death experiences and the Democratic Party, ‘Hollywood, Interrupted‘ takes readers on a surreal field trip into the amoral belly of the entertainment industry. Each chapter -- covering topics including warped Hollywood child-rearing, bad medicine, hypocritical political maneuvering and the complicit media -- delivers a meticulously researched, interview-infused, attitude heavy dispatch which analyzes and deconstructs the myths created by the celebrities themselves.
Celebrities somehow believe that it‘s their god-given right to inflict their pathology on the rest of us. ‘Hollywood, Interrupted‘ illustrates how these dysfunctional dilettantes are mad as hell... And we‘re not going to take it any more.“
“Natalie Wood: A Life“ by Gavin Lambert
With at least two other respectable biographies in the form of “Natasha“ by Suzanne Finstad, and Lana Wood‘s “Natalie: A Memoir by Her Sister“ having already been written, more than a few raised eyebrows about yet another take being offered up on Wood‘s short, turbulent life. In his defense, though, Lambert, a screenwriter with a number of other Hollywood biographies to his credit, seems to have real affection and sensitivity for his subject, and does offer some new perspectives on her, particularly in regards to some of her career choices.
While not one of her immediate circle, Lambert did know Wood well after she starred in the 1965 film of his novel “Inside Daisy Clover,“ and their friendship lasted 25 years. The story he tells is one of a genuinely talented actress who never knew a life beyond Hollywood, and because of that, had vulnerabilities, insecurities, demons and addictions that all ultimately played a role in her untimely death by drowning in 1981.
Perhaps because more time has passed since the other books were written, those contributing to Lambert‘s book seem to speak very freely and provide new information here, which gives this work its depth. Even notoriously reticent interviewees like actor Warren Beatty, director Paul Mazursky and actress Leslie Caron lend some valuable contributions here, making it a well-crafted, respectful tale of a star who knew the depths of despair as well as she did the height of success.
“Pictures“ by Jeff Bridges
While not a tell-all, this impressive collection of photographs, compiled by one of the Hollywood‘s most respected and talented actors, provides a unique and compelling look at the industry from an insider‘s perspective. Bridges has been taking on-set photos since the 1980s with a Widelux camera, an oddity because it has no shutter or viewfinder, but allows for panoramic images (about the same aspect as a widescreen film) and even for quick-moving subjects to appear twice on the same negative. The wide field, for example, can show an actor and director foreground while the crew is featured in another part of the print, all of which makes for photos that are rich in composition.
Fans of Bridges and his array of fine films, such as “The Last Picture Show,“ “Starman,“ “The Big Lebowski,“ “The Contender“ and “Seabiscuit,“ to name a few, are in for a real treat. Priceless and personal moments from those films are documented here, along with a host of Hollywood‘s finest actors and directors, and in defining his own style as a photographer, Bridges has captured images that show how he perceives the business he works in and those he admires who work alongside him. He also provides a hand-written commentary and captions throughout. There is yet one more reason to feel good about buying the book - proceeds from its sales are being donated to The Motion Picture & Television Fun, a non-profit organization that offers charitable care and support to film-industry workers. Isn‘t that about what we‘ve come to expect from Jeff Bridges?