Adventures among the stars.
Agent and producer Phillips begins her candid debut memoir by recounting three miserable years as assistant to Judy Garland, “a demented, demanding, supremely talented drug addict,” a self-destructive drunk who lived on a cocktail of pills downed with limitless bottles of liebfraumilch. Enraptured with Garland from childhood, Phillips quickly became disillusioned with the woman she was charged to travel with, minister to, dress, feed, and, most of all, manage to get on stage. Despite feeling exploited and angry, Phillips admits that Garland served as “the lens through which I have seen, lived, and dealt with my life” and gave her “the armor to face the world.” As this sometimes-venomous and often very funny memoir shows, there were many deep chinks in that armor. After leaving Garland, the author became an agent at Creative Management Agency; her first client was 16-year-old Liza Minnelli, Garland’s “brilliant and lovely” daughter. Phillips took her under her wing, starting her on a dazzling career. After seeing her perform on TV variety shows, producers and directors clamored to hire her, and Phillips saw her own reputation rise. Along the way, she signed Robert Redford (“an actor who has both good looks and real ability”), Peter Sellers, David Bowie, and Barbra Streisand, among others. Planning to represent Liza exclusively, she resigned from CMA, where she had worked for 15 years. But Liza suddenly, and without explanation, dumped her, leaving her stunned, depressed, and unemployed. When friends invited her to see a musical production at the Actors’ Studio, she reluctantly dragged herself out of the house. That evening changed her life, and she decided to reinvent herself as a producer, starting with The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.
An unsparing look at the dark side of show business.