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DEATH BY HOLLYWOOD by Steven Bochco

DEATH BY HOLLYWOOD

By Steven Bochco

Pub Date: Sept. 16th, 2003
ISBN: 1-4000-6156-3
Publisher: Random House

Television writer/producer Bochco (L.A. Law, NYPD Blue, etc.) draws on his Hollywood experience to write a knowing first novel about a screenwriter on the downward slope who witnesses a murder—and gets the break of his career.

Mid-level agent Eddie Jelko narrates with a seedy eye for depravity the story of his client Bobby Newman, a screenwriter of some success inexplicably stalled on a couple of projects. On the same day that Eddie tells him to screw off, Bobby (who could charitably be described as lacking social skills) finds out that his wife Vee, a struggling actress, has been sleeping with a producer for whom her husband has just been hired to do a rewrite. Vee moves out, and that night, scanning windows with a powerful telescope as is his wont, Bobby catches another married actress, Linda Paulson, briskly committing infidelity with an acting teacher named Ramon, then killing him with an award statue. Being an imaginatively amoral sort, and spotting the premise for a screenplay, Bobby dashes down to the apartment and retrieves Ramon’s little black book (which reveals that Bobby’s wife was one of his conquests), a videotape the dead man was secretly making of his tryst with Linda, and another video of Ramon with Vee. Inspired by this sordid little event, Bobby starts pounding out a screenplay that looks as if it’ll have him back on top of the Hollywood heap in no time at all. His love life also improves after he strikes up a relationship with the murderess. Complicating the happy story is detective Dennis Farentino, who starts nosing around in Bobby’s affairs and develops an interest in Vee. Bochco has a real talent for pulp melodrama, mixing in plenty of dirty jokes, insider industry riffs, and even a few shameless references to one of his earliest shows, Columbo.

A vulgar, sex-filled romp—in the best sense: good, nasty fun.