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November 17, 1985|RON YERXA

THE MOVIE PRODUCER: A HANDBOOK FOR PRODUCING AND PICTURE-MAKING by Paul N. Lazarus III (Harper & Row: $6.95, paperback; illustrated). For many people, the title may suggest a lurid tale of sex, power and money in Hollywood. But Paul Lazarus' "The Movie Producer," is a straightforward account of the various functions of a much-maligned profession. Drawing from his own experiences as a producer of such films as "Westworld" and "Barbarosa," Lazarus tries to answer the impolite but frequently asked question: What do movie producers do? In balanced if somewhat dry prose, he describes the nuts and bolts of film production--from the acquiring of a property to the accounting of profits. For film students and aspiring producers, this guidebook will be especially useful, but in the real world of film production, Lazarus' advice may prove too sane and sensible. Not surprisingly, this "handbook" downplays the irrational forces of power and personality that often prevail over reason and good intentions. Sad to say, books like Steven Bach's recent account of a Hollywood production gone wrong in "Final Cut" reveal much more of how films actually get made. Lazarus has provided a valuable primer, if only Hollywood could follow the textbook.

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