A frank, funny introduction to the realities of making it as a screenwriter.




Two seasoned Hollywood script consultants offer a crash course on how to turn one’s ideas into a polished screenplay.

Debut co-authors Kellem, a former development executive at Universal Television and 20th Century Fox Television, and Hammett, a former employee at Universal Studios and the Agency for the Performing Arts, currently run HollywoodScript.com, a boutique script-consulting service. In this entertaining, to-the-point debut—written with screenwriter and producer Bailey and contributing writer/producer Mark C. Miller, with occasional illustrations by Tokar—these industry pros walk readers through the nuts and bolts of writing scripts that will catch the eye of Hollywood decision-makers. The first section focuses on prep work—time spent reading other people’s scripts, “playing in the sandbox” of developing ideas, and fine-tuning a concept and story. Those tempted to skip straight to pounding out dialogue do so at their own peril, the authors argue, noting that pros spend most of their time prepping: “the only writers who get the chance to write without preparation are those who are not getting paid,” Hammett writes. The second part covers “Drafting and Crafting,” offering helpful advice, although the authors do it in fairly broad strokes. Don’t expect a deep analysis of why the final scene in Chinatown is so powerful; instead, Kellem provides such nuggets as “Less is almost always better” and “Surrender to the fact that writing is rewriting,” and Hammett offers brief explanations of why screenwriters should embrace stage directions. The final section discusses marketing and selling a script; in it, Kellem explains why sending less-than-perfect work is a big mistake: “After all, who wants to buy a brand new Mercedes with a dent?” They’re also helpfully candid about the bumpy, often frustrating path to production. Overall, this insider’s look at the industry is invaluable, although it may throw cold water on some readers’ Tinseltown dreams. That said, the book is also full of encouraging asides, and the authors seem dedicated to using their extensive knowledge to help others succeed in a truly competitive business.

A frank, funny introduction to the realities of making it as a screenwriter.

Pub Date: April 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5355-7544-7

Page Count: 191

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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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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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.


A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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