CLAIM TO FAME by William H. Appelman


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 Wicked Hollywood, Unforgiving Hollywood, Felonious Hollywood- -they're all on display in this riotously inconsequential knockoff of The Player. After her husband/manager/producer Lewis Rosenthal's untimely death (suicide brought on by depression about his last, failed project? or could it have been...?), fabled screen-star Nora Howard allows herself to be coaxed east to New England to headline the play that Lewis had hoped to turn into Hollywood gold. Close behind her are monstrous dealmaker Steven Wald, who'd killed the project earlier but now wants to produce it himself, and Wald's dangerously sycophantic assistant Chip Walker, whose suicide-hotline conversation with Lewis the night he died showed a distinctly novel approach to crisis intervention. Wald immediately puts the rush on disenchanted playwright Ben Bradford; Chip resumes his anonymous telephone harassment of Nora. Further complications are promised when has-been actor Tony Newland throws himself in front of a car driven by the hot young male companion of rising congressman Neil Sheedy; and the efforts of Neil's father-in-law, an ex-governor, to keep the family name clear dovetail briefly and amusingly with Chip's tireless attempts to frame Wald for the hit-and-run. But all the complications lead nowhere. Neil keeps out of the spotlight; Wald wises up to Chip and kicks him out just in time for the police to fall on him; Wald's backer, savvy Michael Russell, kicks him out and buys the play for Nora, bringing her and Ben cozily together; and other, even more irrelevant subplots are shuffled off to make room for the final winsome fadeout. First-novelist Appelman doesn't have the sense of malice, or the sense of humor, to pull this off; maybe he's just a very nice man himself, unlike the glittering, tawdry showbiz types who hang around his two coasts waiting for a decent plot.

Pub Date: June 15th, 1993
ISBN: 0-88184-939-9
Page count: 256pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1993