A biography about a powerful former studio head.
By the time she was 35, at the helm of Fox Productions, Sherry Lansing was the highest-paid and highest-ranking woman in the American film industry. In his debut biography, entertainment journalist Galloway, executive features editor for the Hollywood Reporter, follows Lansing’s career from her unsuccessful stab at acting to a more satisfying job as a script reader and finally to the positions at Columbia Pictures, Fox, and Paramount that put her in a glaring spotlight. The author acknowledges “hundreds of hours of interviews” with his subject, from which he quotes so liberally that at times he seems more of a ghostwriter than biographer. Nevertheless, he tells an energetic and entertaining story, filled with divas, tantrums, and abundant Hollywood gossip. Besides Lansing, Galloway interviewed scores of actors, directors, producers, and screenwriters, including Michael Douglas, who shared candid recollections about the trials involved in producing Fatal Attraction; Glenn Close, who nearly did not land a role in that film; the demanding Jane Fonda; Titanic director James Cameron; the irascible Sumner Redstone; Steven Spielberg; and Meryl Streep, relatively unknown when she won the part playing opposite Dustin Hoffman in Kramer v. Kramer. Hoffman created “a host of difficulties” on the set, including a horrible relationship with Streep: “at one point,” Galloway divulges, “just before they shot a dramatic scene, out of the blue he hit her, perhaps believing her performance would be more authentic.” The two never acted together after that. Among Lansing’s memorable movies were Forrest Gump, Braveheart, a host of action films, and The Hours. In 2005, Lansing decided to leave movies and, as she put it, “recreate my life.” She established the Sherry Lansing Foundation, a charitable organization focused on cancer research and education, to which she brought the same determination and hands-on management style that had defined her throughout her career.
A brisk, breezy look at the turbulent world of moviemaking.