Today's movie-biz in the ugly New Hollywood, with the emphasis on the nitty-gritty of deal-making--mostly from the feminist viewpoint of a talented would-be woman director who's sharing bed and board with a selfish, lucky producer. Rae Drummond is the director, and she's been working on a woman-oriented script for months and months with screenwriter Phoebe (an earthy, tall gal who favors Peckinpah double bills); they've been naively trying to sell it without benefit of press agentry and such. Meanwhile, Rae's guy Jake Rubens (she's 32, he's 29) has won a slew of Academy Awards for a picture he produced as an employee of a big studio--and now he's hotly scouting up scripts and lusting for the next big move: becoming an ""independent producer lolling in the shade of a studio's umbrella."" Things get better and better for Jake (to the extent that his ex-wife, a real-estate agent, is hounding him to get into some high-toned house-trade deals), things get worse and worse for Rae--the script is almost bought, then turned down; and Sake is far from sympathetic (""Will you grow up? I have a meeting""). Plus--Jake's messing with other women, including that ex-wife. But then the tide turns: Rae determines to play the hype game to get her package bought; she dominates the action when a personality magazine does a feature on this filmland couple at home (Jake is furious); and when Jake finally gets his four-film independent-producer deal, all his scripts wash out--including Rae's and Phoebe's, which has just been sold (sans hype, as it happens) to the in-house producer who has just replaced Jake. The ironies, feminist and otherwise, are laid on awfully thick throughout, but timid, nervy, bread-baking Rae remains appealing nonetheless. And Stabiner knows the Hollywood turf all too well--status restaurants and shops, the lingo, the parties--so there's less romanticization here than in almost any recent Hollywood novel, including the far more satisfying Somebody's Darling. Unaffecting, then, but always knowledgeable, intermittently engaging, often sharp, funny, and rueful.