THE INDUSTRY: Life in the Hollywood Fast Lane by Saul David

THE INDUSTRY: Life in the Hollywood Fast Lane

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Lively, bitter, somewhat dated memories of a writer-producer in Hollywood, 1960-1975. Hired from N.Y. publishing as ""a kind of hybrid executive"" at Columbia, then promptly fired, David sampled the lifestyle a bit--the ""unionized harem"" of female extras, the ""bankable"" star with fawning entourage--and started generating his own projects. First came Sex and the Single Girl, to which he ""played literary obstetrician"" and ""got custody of the motion-picture rights""; but once Warner Bros. took over, the script went, says ""expendable"" David, from satire to comedy to broad farce. Then on (for nearly half of the book) to Von Ryan's Express. The novel was written by friend David Westheimer; producer David read the manuscript, optioned the rights, got a staff-producer contract with 20th Century-Fox. But the Westheimer/David script was too faithful to the book to please Darryl Zanuck; Westheimer was declared ""off the picture,"" a replacement brought in; and the character of the spit-and-polish West Point autocrat Von Ryan was handed to. . . Frank Sinatra (""He'll be terrific. . . . We'll just get someone to polish the dialogue""). Sinatra was a tyrant, of course--refusing to do any waiting during shooting (monstrous scheduling problems)--but also smart and sane. And David, whose producer role became less and less lofty, does a solid job (though far from the involving one of Theodore Gershuny's Soon to be a Major Motion Picture) in detailing the nightmare of location shooting--in Italy and Spain, with a despised director. After that? A deal-making duel over Our Man Flint with supermogul Lew Wasserman (who nixed Burt Reynolds: ""He's nobody. . . a bum""); a brief stint as an MGM exec (""one of Them""); and The Black Bird, featuring manic Ray Stark and surprisingly monstrous George Segal. True, David is sometimes too meanly petty to make points (especially re his ex-wife and movie critics), and there's little here reflecting the big recent changes in Hollywood. But, even if you never warm up to him, you'll find this a slick, stylish jaunt through deals, shoots, back-stabs, sell-outs, and sleaze.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1981
Publisher: Times Books