AARON SPELLING

A PRIME-TIME LIFE

From The Mod Squad to Dynasty to Melrose Place, the world's most prolific producer tells his story, anecdote by anecdote by anecdote. If you sat down right now to watch every hour of the TV shows and movies that Aaron Spelling has produced, it would be a full 125 days later before you were finished. This is assuming, of course, that the human mind could safely survive such an extended dose of Spelling's wares: the endless parade of beautiful vixens and roguish millionaires, hipster PIs and ripe teenyboppers, pervasive pap and ubiquitous fluff. To his credit, Spelling is a modest man. He makes few grand claims for his oeuvre beyond that of entertainment (with an occasional gesture toward social consciousness). As you might expect from his shows, his own story goes from rags to riches. Fleeing pogroms, his parents ended up in Dallas, where the young Spelling struggled with anti-Semitic bullying and the shame of poverty. Books and movies were his only friends, and like many poor Jews of his generation, he believed that the entertainment industry offered a front-row ticket to success. Acting led to directing, which led to writing, then finally to producing. It was here that Spelling found his forte as he, along with various partners, produced an almost uninterrupted string of long-running hits. (It doesn't take a Freudian to realize that pervasive themes of many of these shows—wish-fulfillment, escapism, social acceptance—have strong autobiographical connections.) While Spelling (with USA Today TV reporter Graham) tells a lot of great showbiz stories, he dishes little dirt. In fact, he has almost nothing unkind to say about anyone. Problem actors, double-dealing executives, obstreperous writers—all are treated with a rare tact and courtliness. Perhaps, sometimes, nice guys don't finish last. Professionally done, with many enjoyable moments, but not quite an Emmy-winning performance. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-312-14268-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1996

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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