MOGULS, MONSTERS AND MADMEN by Barry Avrich

MOGULS, MONSTERS AND MADMEN

An Uncensored Life in Show Business
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Montreal-bred impresario Avrich (Selling the Sizzle, 2, 2005, etc.) recounts the deals that shaped his career in North America’s often volatile and always high-stakes entertainment industry.

As a child, the author knew he wanted to entertain, and his father’s advice for his young son was, “don’t blend in.” That suggestion sat particularly well with Avrich, who determined not to let his lack of a singing voice keep him off the stage, even if that meant dedicating himself to operating behind the scenes. The author writes affectionately about the warm Jewish upbringing that put him on the right path, first in advertising, then Broadway and, ultimately, Hollywood. “I promised myself that I would take my father’s passion for life and run with it,” Avrich writes, before launching into the story of an exciting career trajectory that soon had him intimately involved in the production of blockbuster plays like Phantom of the Opera and Kiss of the Spiderwoman. That same path, however, also landed him inside the shaky orbits of some of the most powerful players in show business. Legally challenged producer Garth Drabinsky (“a seductive and relentless psychopath”) looms especially large in the mix. However, Drabinsky is by no means the only outsized ego that Avrich analyzes. The author also scrutinizes Hollywood powerbrokers Lew Wasserman and Harvey Weinstein, screen legend Lauren Bacall, sensationalist scribe Dominick Dunne, and comedian David Steinberg. The author ticks off each minivignette without dishing too much dirt, but he still manages to be surprisingly compelling. Avrich laments that after completing his contentious Weinstein documentary, “asshole” critics were left wondering, “Where’s the sleaze?” This time around, the author isn’t slinging a whole lot of mud, either, but that doesn't prevent his intimate takes on subjects as diverse as Winston Churchill and Guccione from delighting with a special insider’s authenticity.

An entertaining look at some giant-sized celebrity personalities.

Pub Date: May 10th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-77041-287-3
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: ECW Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2016




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