Bitter Hollywood Tales
From the Front Line
Bloomsbury: 192 pp.,
There were the hits: "The Untouchables," "Car Wash," "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," even "Fight Club." Does Art Linson choose to tell us about life on the way up? No. Linson tells us about life on the way down: "On the lot, I was viewed as a man slowly dying of a disease that might be contagious." When he meets his old boss, Jerry Bruckheimer, "a legend who quit before his time," in the back of a Malibu coffee shop, Bruckheimer, more than a little homesick for the Hollywood he loved leaving, begs Linson to describe every failure, every personal slight, claiming it will prove therapeutic. Linson's descriptions of pitch meetings, David Mamet or Mitch Glazer in tow, held in the studio executive's office or the commissary, are priceless. At best, he says of the pitch process, "even when it's operating on all cylinders, it's annoying. At its worst, it's a humiliation for everyone in the room." For example, one pitch is for "The Edge," about two guys and a bear. Doomed to failure. Linson's hopes for "Great Expectations" are also dashed, in part by Alec Baldwin's hysteria over having to shave his beard for the initial scenes. Then "Fight Club," "so audacious that it couldn't be brought under control. Soon Murdoch and Chernin would be flopping around like acid-crazed carp wondering how such a thing could even have happened." As for "Sunset Strip," Linson's last movie for Fox, well, "there are worse things that can happen to a movie producer, but they usually involve a life-threatening illness to irreplaceable organs."
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday May 08, 2003 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 3 inches; 101 words Type of Material: Correction
Film memoir -- The review of "What Just Happened? Bitter Hollywood Tales From the Front Line" in the April 27 Book Review referred to a passage describing a meeting between Art Linson and Jerry Bruckheimer; in fact, the conversation described is during a fictionalized meeting between Linson and a character called "Jerry." The review therefore implied that Bruckheimer was at one time Linson's boss; in fact, Linson was never employed by Bruckheimer. In the same review, it was stated that Linson's hopes for the film "Great Expectations" were spoiled by Alec Baldwin's behavior; it should have said the film "The Edge."
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday May 11, 2003 Home Edition Book Review Part R Page 14 Features Desk 5 inches; 174 words Type of Material: Correction
Soviet labor camps -- The April 27 review of "Gulag: A History" stated that the system of labor camps known as the gulag was named by author and dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn. In fact, the Soviets began referring to the camps as gulags in the early 1930s. The word is an acronym for the Main Administration of Corrective Labor Camps and Labor Settlements, also known as Main Camp Administration or, in Russian, Glavnoe Upravlenie Lagerei.
Film memoir -- The April 27 review of Art Linson's "What Just Happened? Bitter Hollywood Tales From the Front Line" referred to a passage describing a meeting between Linson and Jerry Bruckheimer; in fact, the conversation described is during a fictionalized meeting between Linson and a character called "Jerry." The review therefore implied that Jerry Bruckheimer was at one time Art Linson's boss; in fact, Linson was never employed by Bruckheimer. In the same review, it was stated that Linson's hopes for the film "Great Expectations" were spoiled by Alec Baldwin's behavior; it should have said the film "The Edge."
Surprisingly, there's very little bitterness in this classic, except for a few asides about Murdoch turning Fox into a used-car lot, or the studio's incredible likeness at lunch to an Aetna life insurance office. Like a few of his movies, ripped from the jaws of fame prematurely, you may have missed "What Just Happened?" when it came out last year. Now it's in paperback. Don't make the same mistake twice.
A Woman's Guide
to Finding Her Inner French Girl
St. Martin's Press: 242 pp., $21.95
Nothing is more entertaining than the mythically happy life of the average French woman, "as different as possible from the average American woman," wrote Edith Wharton, by which she meant, "The French woman is grown-up."
Naturally thin, the French woman cares not a sous for our faddish diets and public health rituals. Ze French woman knows how to enjoy life. She is comfortable in her own skin. She knows how to be sexy even if she weighs 125 pounds, not her average 120. She is "discreet," "self-possessed," natural, deliberate. "In the end," and this is truly a mark of integrity, "she will not make a cassoulet if it's summer or a salade nicoise if it's winter." No she will not! I love this. It's like being in dancing school again; a little chubby, a little awkward. A middle-age lady with an erect spine and perfect hands is telling you to feel the music, to be confident, alive. Inside your 10-year-old heart you know you don't want to be.
Funny in Farsi
A Memoir of Growing Up
Iranian in America
Villard: 188 pp., $21.95
Firoozeh Dumas' father grew up in a poor family of eight children in Iran. "He was the first member of his family to study in America, the first to win a Fulbright scholarship," and the first to "settle permanently in America." Dumas, age 7, spent her first year in the United States in Whittier, where she got a taste of the true kindness of Americans, and the next year in Newport Beach, where she was repeatedly mistaken for Mexican and treated, shall we say, not so well.
"The correct pronunciation of Iran," Dumas informs her ignorant fellow students, "is Ee-rahn. I ran is a sentence ... as in 'I ran away from my geography lesson.' "
What's charming beyond the humor of this memoir is that it remains affectionate even in the weakest, most tenuous moments for the culture. It's the brilliance of true sophistication at work.