The title and cover promise the sort of hilarious irreverence that the book rarely delivers.

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FAT, DRUNK, AND STUPID

THE INSIDE STORY BEHIND THE MAKING OF ANIMAL HOUSE

Animal House fans will find some anecdotes of interest, but there is barely enough here for a comprehensive magazine article on the making of the classic movie.

As the publisher of National Lampoon and co-producer of its first movie smash, Simmons (The Credit Card Catastrophe: The 20th Century Phenomenon That Changed the World, 1995, etc.) worked with a wide variety of funny people and writers. Unfortunately, in these pages there are too few of them and too much of Simmons, who frames his account with his early years “as a very young press agent in the 1950s” through his launching of magazines for Diner’s Club and Weight Watchers, and culminates in an afterword that begins: “So, Animal House made me a film producer and for three decades people have been asking me what a producer does. I will tell you.” The author mainly shows himself to be a master of hyperbole, bathing every aspect of the production in superlatives: “It became more than a movie. Animal House changed comedy”; “casting, particularly of the young Deltas and Omegas, was superior to any comedy movie before or after Animal House”; its screenplay was “the tightest 110 pages of writing I had seen before or I have seen since.” Throughout the book, Simmons provides too little revelation about the shooting itself or insight into the talent involved. Instead, the text is padded with excerpts from dozens of reviews, summaries of outtakes and accounts of what those who participated did before the movie and where their careers have gone since.

The title and cover promise the sort of hilarious irreverence that the book rarely delivers.

Pub Date: April 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-312-55226-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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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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