WHERE DID I GO RIGHT? by Bernie Brillstein


You're No One in Hollywood Unless Someone Wants You Dead
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Brutal honesty from a Hollywood insider. Now, that’s something to celebrate. Brillstein’s memoir, an exercise in narcissism, is filled with clichés, abounds in shameless name-dropping, and dishes dirt sanctimoniously—but it is nonetheless delightful. The longtime movie-star manager, whose clients over the years included Jim Henson, Jim Belushi, and most of the comics associated with the heyday of Saturday Night Live, writes this tell-all from the perspective of retirement. Interspersed with his history are wonderfully quirky asides from today—moody ruminations on being too old and unhip to compete in the present market. Brillstein’s company is currently run by his protégé, Brad Grey, and it handles most of the top comic talent in the country. Brillstein’s account of how he got to that zenith is a haphazard tale that is often hilarious. He was a fat kid from a crazy New York Jewish family connected to the vaudeville world. He started in the mail room at the William Morris agency and worked his way up, ever so slowly, until he hit the big time in the 1970s. As much as he is overblown about his own talents as a go-getter, he is self-deprecating about his social skills and weakness for women and gambling. The tone is colloquial, rife with curse words, and often prone to rants about those who Brillstein thinks have wronged him, such as agent Mike Ovitz. Brillstein’s narrative is at its most ineffective when he tries to rationalize how he handled Belushi’s drug problem. It takes a lot of hemming and hawing to come to the conclusion that he probably couldn’t have done anything to prevent the man’s death. The author is at his best when describing the loving and supportive relationship he had with Henson. Brillstein rightly stops short of taking credit for anything his clients did while under his protection, but any man who made it possible for Kermit to come to life has got to be worth some attention. (16 pages photos)

Pub Date: Nov. 3rd, 1999
ISBN: 0-316-11885-0
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1999


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