The fascinating memoir of a true Hollywood mogul that traces his life from Brooklyn to Warner Brothers.

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THE MAN WHO CREATED HALLOWEEN

An account of Halloween creator Yablans’ rise from a hardscrabble childhood in Brooklyn to the upper echelons of the studio system in Hollywood where he would help change the way movies are made.

During World War II, Yablans grew up in roach-infested, cramped apartments in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, which was largely inhabited by second-generation Jews escaping the teeming ghettos of the Lower East Side. It was a close-knit community by necessity and Yablans, like so many of his background, was encouraged not to have high expectations. Working in the garment district and then in backbreaking labor at the Navy Yard, he escaped the hellish monotony by joining the army and upon discharge, took up an offer to work in sales at Warner Brothers. Yablans had a learning disability that had confounded his teachers because he was innately bright, so he dropped out of high school. Given a chance at Warner, he committed himself wholeheartedly to work. Moving through the ranks at the studio, he eventually wound up in Los Angeles with his brother, Frank, following. Frank would become president of Paramount Pictures and a golden child for a time, and Irwin would eventually shake up the studio system and forge ahead with independent films, pioneering his own studio. With Halloween, he helped launch the career of John Carpenter and created a horror classic. Yablans shows us the film industry from the business end, where the point is the bottom line and where shark-infested political dealings are routine. He paints a portrait of a cutthroat but exciting world of unimaginable wealth, struggle and movie stars where dreams are the product sold to the world at large. Although there are many poignant moments beneath the nuts-and-bolts insights into the business of movies, Yablans also can be brutally frank, noting a “bulbous nose” or character flaw, and is as much a player as anyone. When the film The Message resulted in 149 people being held as hostages by black Muslim extremists and several deaths, Yablans rode the crest by increasing the film’s circulation in theaters across the country. Essentially, it is an entertaining and captivating story of a spirited man of humble roots who attained even his most unimaginable dreams, including a stint as a competitive cowboy, and helped usher in a new era of films.

The fascinating memoir of a true Hollywood mogul that traces his life from Brooklyn to Warner Brothers. (27 pages of b/w photographs)

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2012

ISBN: 978-1478105268

Page Count: 272

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012

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A top-notch political memoir and serious exercise in practical politics for every reader.

A PROMISED LAND

In the first volume of his presidential memoir, Obama recounts the hard path to the White House.

In this long, often surprisingly candid narrative, Obama depicts a callow youth spent playing basketball and “getting loaded,” his early reading of difficult authors serving as a way to impress coed classmates. (“As a strategy for picking up girls, my pseudo-intellectualism proved mostly worthless,” he admits.) Yet seriousness did come to him in time and, with it, the conviction that America could live up to its stated aspirations. His early political role as an Illinois state senator, itself an unlikely victory, was not big enough to contain Obama’s early ambition, nor was his term as U.S. Senator. Only the presidency would do, a path he painstakingly carved out, vote by vote and speech by careful speech. As he writes, “By nature I’m a deliberate speaker, which, by the standards of presidential candidates, helped keep my gaffe quotient relatively low.” The author speaks freely about the many obstacles of the race—not just the question of race and racism itself, but also the rise, with “potent disruptor” Sarah Palin, of a know-nothingism that would manifest itself in an obdurate, ideologically driven Republican legislature. Not to mention the meddlings of Donald Trump, who turns up in this volume for his idiotic “birther” campaign while simultaneously fishing for a contract to build “a beautiful ballroom” on the White House lawn. A born moderate, Obama allows that he might not have been ideological enough in the face of Mitch McConnell, whose primary concern was then “clawing [his] way back to power.” Indeed, one of the most compelling aspects of the book, as smoothly written as his previous books, is Obama’s cleareyed scene-setting for how the political landscape would become so fractured—surely a topic he’ll expand on in the next volume.

A top-notch political memoir and serious exercise in practical politics for every reader.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6316-9

Page Count: 768

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: today

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