THE AGENCY

WILLIAM MORRIS AND THE HIDDEN HISTORY OF SHOW BUSINESS

Savvy, though uneven, profile of America's oldest talent agency. William Morris began in 1898 as a vaudeville agent, but the German-Jewish immigrant was always receptive to new entertainment technologies that offered opportunities for his clients, whether in motion pictures or radio. Business writer Rose (West of Eden: The End of Innocence at Apple Computer, 1989, etc.) barely skims the years before Morris's death in 1932, and his coverage of the 1930s and early '40s is also sketchy; at times the author gets lost in show-biz anecdotes that have little to do with the William Morris Agency. The narrative kicks into gear with its smart assessment of the changes that swept the entertainment industry in the years following WW II, in particular the rise of television and breakup of the studio system, which left Hollywood vulnerable to the increasing demands of stars who could attract the audience. Led by Abe Lastfogel, the William Morris Agency consolidated its power and made its money by controlling the flow of talent, packaging groups of its clients to create the early television shows and making sure its movie actors were first in line for the juiciest roles. The company was known for its agents' low-key, businesslike demeanor and its family atmosphere; most employees joined straight out of school and stayed until they retired. Rose capably chronicles the stagnation that set in at WMA as financial types like Nat Lefkowitz gained power and the agency grew increasingly corporate, frustrating the people who actually dealt with talent and leading to the very public departures of six key employees in 1991. The book ends abruptly in that year, with no mention of developments since then and no assessment of the agency's prospects for the future. Almost always a lot of fun, although the lack of a coherent narrative thread means that the welter of names and anecdotes sometimes gets bewildering. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen) ($40,000 ad/promo)

Pub Date: July 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-88730-749-3

Page Count: 528

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1995

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more