HIGH CONCEPT

DON SIMPSON AND THE HOLLYWOOD CULTURE OF EXCESS

Lots of sex, lots of drugs, and even a little rock ‘n’ roll—there’s something for every scandal lover in this rollicking, dirt-dishing account of the life and times of Hollywood producer Don Simpson. Movie insiders credit Simpson with inventing high-concept movies—the action-packed, loud, flashy, simplistic, but tightly structured films, that crowd the multiplexes every summer. With his producing partner, Jerry Bruckheimer, he certainly hauled in great gusts of money with films such as Flashdance, Top Gun, and Crimson Tide. Simpson’s life was as big and in-your-face as his creations. He hit Hollywood as a junior studio executive and quickly climbed the corporate ladder. But his increasingly public drug habit eventually got him fired. Financially, this was the best thing that ever happened to him. He and Bruckheimer teamed up as independent producers and began to crank out the movies that would make them feared and loathed and celebrated. If anything, success upped the ante of Simpson’s misbehavior—from even more drugs to a constant stream of hookers to epic mistreatment of subordinates. But the powerful absolution of success kept him working until his heart gave out when he was 52. In his first book, Fleming, a former staff writer for Variety and Newsweek, is not so much interested in Simpson the man (in fact, in strictly biographical terms, this book is a failure), but Simpson the poster boy for ’80s excess. This leads to long, tell-tale digressions on Hollywood seaminess. This oft-told tale features the usual suspects (Heidi Fleiss, Charlie Sheen, Jack Nicholson), but Fleming does manage to dig up enough juicy, original tidbits to slake all but the most jaded prurient appetites. A tale full of sound and fury but signifying little beyond gossip. (Author tour; radio satellite tour)

Pub Date: May 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-385-48694-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1998

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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