FADE OUT: The Scandalous Final Days of MGM by Peter Bart
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FADE OUT: The Scandalous Final Days of MGM

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Richly absorbing account of the feeding frenzy among the moneymen tearing off chunks of MGM until not even the logo was left; by the present editor of Variety, and author of Thy Kingdom Come (1981), a novelistic broadside against the Mormon Church's expansion into megafinance. As senior vice president of MGM/UA, Bart himself was on the inside of the long destruction of the once omnipotent superstudio that was the Home of the Stars. He tells his story in a zigzagging manner suited to the multidimensional cat's cradle of dark financing that not only brought down MGM like Ozymandias, but then squeezed it to dust. Chief architect of the studio's death is Kirk Kerkorian, a raider who traded his way into becoming CEO and remained in place for 20 years while hiring one fall guy after another to run the studio while he sat back in the shadow and allowed his scapegoat to be eaten alive. The reader follows the rise and fall of one feature film after another (nearly all of them dogs) as Kerkorian shoots for the wild goose of the monster hit that will save the studio, It never came until Rain Man, by which time there was nothing left to save--and much of the goose had already been traded away to keep the studio afloat. Why couldn't Kerkorian pull in the monster hit that all the other studios managed to snag? Because MGM came to find itself in the image of Kerkorian himself, a grandiose gambler who built spectacular casinos and was more interested in moving vast sums through the night than in bringing daylight to the studio, For all the big-name flicks we follow here in their making (War Games, 2010, Mrs. Soffel, and especially Rain Man), we also follow two dozen dogs--and a half-dozen top-level executives--into oblivion. Every dollar discussed is greased with unreality, each contract etched on wax. Commerce and compromise sketched with the blackest of charcoal.

Pub Date: June 25th, 1990
Publisher: Morrow