While the advice mostly hits only a few notes, the endearing anecdotes of an up-and-down life in movies make up for it.

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HOLLYWOOD WAR STORIES

HOW TO SURVIVE IN THE TRENCHES

A debut memoir traces a career in Hollywood while offering hard-won advice on how to make it in the film industry. 

Friedberg was born in Cheyenne, Wyoming, but dreamt of living a fantasy life in Hollywood, where everyone, it seemed, “had a swimming pool, a hot car, and a luscious babe.” Each chapter presents a different aphorism on how to succeed in Hollywood. The author weaves in examples involving actors and other industry types—famous stars like Chevy Chase as well as producers and agents known mostly by insiders—while also presenting his own journey. Friedberg attended the University of Southern California, took a film elective, and was hooked by the work of such luminaries as Fellini, Truffaut, and Kubrick. The author ultimately decided to enter the business himself. He began making his own little films, getting his breaks where he could, including by shooting documentary footage at a rodeo back in Cheyenne. Slowly rising in the industry, he became a commercial and music video director and built his portfolio in studio films, eventually culminating in his directing the early1990s Leslie Nielsen vehicle Spy Hard. Friedberg’s advice solidly covers a lot of bases, including where to find inspiration, how to raise production money, and how to run a set. He has plenty of experience to draw on. But some suggestions can become repetitive, with many boiling down to the proviso that people have to work hard and trust their talent. For someone who readily cautions readers that Hollywood is  full of snakes and not to take it too personally, Friedberg spends too much time airing his grievances over his studio’s management of Spy Hard, focusing particularly on two men, a “moron” and an “evil dog-licking” collaborator. Despite these lulls, the author ultimately comes across as a genuine film lover who cared for most of the people he worked with, making for a zippy read.

While the advice mostly hits only a few notes, the endearing anecdotes of an up-and-down life in movies make up for it. 

Pub Date: May 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5009-9161-6

Page Count: 204

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2018

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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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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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