A breezy memoir of a publicist’s year on Hollywood movie locations.
Harris enjoyed privileged access to the insular world of Hollywood movie productions, and he puts that experience to effective use in this memoir of his work on movies such as Gladiator (2000) and The Perfect Storm (2000). He also effectively depicts the tensions—and temptations—that came with spending months at a time away from his wife and two children. “This is partly my story, partly the story of all of us—gaffers, grips and go-fers alike—who spend our lives traveling with the circus, cleaning up after the elephants, making movies,” he writes. Harris sees his job as a thankless task requiring the patience of Job as he deals with temperamental actors and scoop-hungry reporters. “[P]ublicity is the department that adds the least apparent contribution to making the movie and is therefore an annoyance to everybody,” he admits. In a breezy, engaging style, he captures both the tedium and glamor of the 1999 shoots he worked on, sharing a steady stream of tidbits about actors and others he encountered in the Moroccan desert, Malta, Toronto, Los Angeles and other locations. There’s a terrified Joaquin Phoenix saying of his role in Gladiator, “I can’t do it. I’m just a kid from Florida”; a crew member warning Harris that Russell Crowe always does “some actory thing where he behaves like [his] character”; and Mark Wahlberg’s manager telling the author to make sure that reporters on the set of The Perfect Storm don’t see the actor’s entourage. Perhaps most poignantly, actress Karen Allen confides to Harris, “I didn't really master my craft until I was nearly 40. And by then I was too old for any of the good roles.” The author is less compelling when chronicling the vicissitudes of his marriage; he admits to infidelity and then, after repeatedly affirming his love for his wife, discloses in the epilogue that they divorced in 2005. Men and women “on the bounding boat of location life...all want someone to come home to and we all secretly fear that the life we leave behind might leave us,” he laments.
A light, engaging behind-the-scenes Hollywood tale.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
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)