HIT AND RUN by Nancy Griffin


How Jon Peters and Peter Guber Took Sony for a Ride in Hollywood
Email this review


 From Final Cut to The Devil's Candy, there are any number of well-told tales of epic motion picture disasters, but they all pale in comparison to this detailed, devastating account of the grandest debacle of them all. Even by the usual shoulder-shrugging ``Nobody knows anything'' credo of Hollywood, Sony's appointment of Jon Peters and Peter Guber to head up their newly purchased Columbia Pictures was a stunning act of blind faith. As independent producers, Peters and Guber had been responsible for a remarkable string of mediocre successes and outright flops, with Batman one of their few genuine hits. So disliked were they that Steven Spielberg even had a provision in one contract explicitly barring them from his set. But in a town where executives are perpetually failing upwards, it made a strange kind of sense that the two should become studio heads. However such dubious talent didn't come cheaply. Variety estimated that just to buy up Guber and Peters's production company, as well as settle their contract with Warner Brothers, cost Sony nearly a billion dollars. This was just the beginning. From a complete remodeling of Columbia's offices to overbidding on movie properties, the two men went on a spending spree of brobdingnagian proportions. A few minor flops and major embarrassments later, the volatile Peters was off the lot, multimillion dollar buyout in hand. But even as bad went to worse, culminating in such bombs as the Last Action Hero and I'll Do Anything, Guber hung on for almost five years. Despite some awkwardness in their characterizations (particularly of Guber), Griffin, the West Coast editor of Premiere magazine, and Masters, a reporter for the Washington Post, have done excellent spadework, providing a full, lucid, even gripping, account of everything that went so very wrong. A dead-on, damning indictment of Hollywood cupidity, stupidity, and excess. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen) (First serial to Vanity Fair)

Pub Date: June 19th, 1996
ISBN: 0-684-80931-1
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1996


NonfictionSHOCK VALUE by Jason Zinoman
by Jason Zinoman