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Death by Hollywood: A Novel Hardcover – September 9, 2003

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Kevin Kwan is back with a wickedly funny new novel of social climbing, secret e-mails, art-world scandal, lovesick billionaires, and the outrageous story of what happens when Rachel Chu discovers her birthfather.Learn more | See related books

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This clever debut novel by the creator of Hill St. Blues, NYPD Blue and other hit TV shows is as smooth and rich as the name-brand Chardonnays preferred by many of the book's fabulously conflicted Tinseltown characters. Narrator Eddie Jelko, an A-level agent, sets the stage by declaring, "It's a tough town and a tough business, and if you don't watch your step either one'll kill you, which I guess is what this story is actually about." Eddie's screenwriter client Bobby Newman's career is fading fast: he can't get a handle on a long-overdue screenplay, his drinking is out of control and his wife is having an affair with a sleazebag director. One drunken evening, Bobby sits down with his Bushnell telescope and spies on a couple making love in a nearby house. When they've finished, they begin to argue, and the woman, whom Bobby recognizes as a wealthy socialite, hauls off and kills her lover with an acting trophy. In any other town, Bobby would report the crime, but instead he sees it as both the solution to his writer's block and a vehicle to the top of the Hollywood heap. The story proceeds apace; the twists and turns are predictable but amusing, the agent jokes are funny and the O. Henry-style ending ties everything up with an attractive bow. A publisher's letter and star-treatment interview with Bochco attempt to add weight to this pleasing, slick-as-silk fiction, but there's no need for such addenda. The book is fast, fun, sexy and delivers plenty of inside dope on movie stars and their wacky lives. That's enough for millions of readers who aren't interested in slogging their way through War and Peace. Relax, guys, it's gonna be a hit.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From The New Yorker

"Writers, by definition, are voyeurs," Eddie Jelko, a Hollywood agent and the cynical narrator of this steamy thriller, explains. One of his clients, a screenwriter named Bobby Newman, peers through his state-of-the-art telescope one night and spies a billionaire's trophy wife murdering her Latin lover. This being Hollywood, he doesn't call the police but, desperate for a good story to revive his flagging career, decides to write about the crime and befriends both the killer and the detective by way of research. Bochco delights in Hollywood sleaze, and his years in the industry (he co-created "NYPD Blue" and "L.A. Law") have given him a good ear for its vicious banter. The conniving characters, though shamelessly stereotypical, are painted with exuberant vigor, and, as the plot accelerates to its inevitable twist, Bochco maintains a seductive atmosphere where nothing is what it seems and someone is always watching.
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1 edition (September 9, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400061563
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400061563
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,473,900 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By MaryMR on October 30, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This was a great read; unfortunately it only lasted two days because I couldn't put it down. I especially enjoyed the manner in which the storylines were interwoven, almost a story within a story, like the Arabian Nights. Due to the "grittiness" of the characters it would be easy to overlook important and interesting observations on the human condition; several passages made me stop and ponder about life, attitudes, etc.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By C. Pink on August 18, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I expected better from the creator of Hill Street Blues etc. The style is clearly derivative of writer Elmore Leonard. But hey ya gotta start somewhere. Obviously writing great televsion cop shows wasn't training enough.

But that's not the problem. This book is so crude I felt sick. It was crude for the sake of it. I mean how many scenes of oral sex does a book need? And I'd like to point out not one of these moves the plot forward. Basically he was verbalizing his wet dreams over and over and over again. Yuck.

But even worse was that what this really was just a mish mash of narrated scripts. Theres the murder of the gigolo, the murder of the "main" character, the story of a dog president, and the story of the dog screen writer. This is topped by the fact that this is narrated by a semi-likable agent to the scrum bag writer who somehow is privy to all that happens. In factg everone but the writer is a scum bag. It's really hard to care. Even the detective who is sort of likable turns out to be a self-serving murderer.

I skipped alot of this book. My only interest was to find out who got killed and if anyone went to jail.

So basicially this book is a waste of shelf space
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Steph B. on October 30, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I thought that DEATH BY HOLLYWOOD was mediocre and it moved very quickly, so quick in fact that I didn't even realize when I was done.
Written in first person, DEATH BY HOLLYWOOD speaks heavily about the "glamourous" life of Hollywood actors, screenwriters, and their agents. We follow Bobby, a writer who is down on his luck. He catches his wife in action cheating on him, his agent fires him, and he witnesses a murder all in the same day.
He uses this murder to his advantage in hopes that he can make it into a killer screenplay. From then he plots himself into his own misfortune.
Although this wasn't one of the best books I've read, the twists and surprises the book took on at the end really had me going. And for that I give it 3 stars.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By David W. Nicholas on September 30, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Steven Bocchco is probably one of the better known producers in Hollywood, with Hill Street Blues, L.A. Law, and NYPD Blue to his credit, among other things. So he's done so well there, he decided to become a novelist like his friend Stephen J. Cannell, who has now written a number of novels. The result is Death by Hollywood, a frothy entertainment with few redeeming features but no real flaws either.
The text alternates between first person narration and the points of view of many other characters, with the conceit that the narrator is telling you what he thinks happened when he wasn't there. The narrator is a Hollywood agent named Eddie Jelko, a guy with hundreds of stories and more jokes about the biz than Jay Leno. He represents the main character, Bobby Newman, a down-on-his-luck screenwriter who has writer's block, a drinking problem, and an unfaithful wife who's just decided to leave him. Bobby witnesses a murder in the middle of this, and instead of reporting the killer to the police, as he should, he sees an opportunity to escape his writer's block. Much hilarity ensues, as the law of unforseen consequences boomerangs with a vengeance.
I enjoyed this book a good deal. Bocchco proves to be a pretty skilled writer, though the book shows signs of lengthening. There are many jokes and anecdotes that have nothing to do with the main plot, and the margins on the pages are wide, ditto the space between the lines of text. I bet they could have fit this into 180 pages if they'd tried. I suppose this is a result of Bocchco knowing how to write hour-long screenplays, most of the time, rather than longer books. It's a skill you learn, I guess. That being said, this is still a fun book, and I would recommend it.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Leenie on November 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
OK,disappointment is the 1st thing that comes to mind. Bochco has developed some of my fav TV programs; innovative, provocative...I expected the same. What I think Mr. Bochco didn't understand is that a novel requires more detailed info than a screen play & that's 1 of the problems. These characters are flat. Yeah, they have 'in your face..[love scences]', but it's not sensual or arrousing. It's just poking and proding. The author, aka narrator, is TELLING the story, not SHOWING the reader. The twists of plot were very good. The tidey ending was clever. And maybe this is a view of inside Hollywood. If so, what a horrible place to be addicted to. The read was fast & easy, but I think I'd wait for the paperback & a vacation on the beach.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Larry VINE VOICE on February 26, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Bobby Newman, a Hollywood screenwriter with marital, personal and professional problems witnesses a murder from his back porch while spying on his neighbors with a telescope. Looking for a fresh idea for a script, he decides to go to the murdered man's house and investigate rather than call the cops. He finds a hidden video camera that recorded the murder, as well as, a black book that the man used to rate his lovers- including Newman's wife! Newman befriends the investigating detective, Dennis Farentino, in order to follow the investigation. However, things quickly begin to go awry as Newman begins a relationship with the murderer and tries to get back at his estranged wife by implicating her in the murder.
Steven Bochco, well known for creating several hit TV series, has written his first novel. He has won Emmys and Edgars for his screenplays but never has written a fictional narrative. It actually and unsurprisingly reads like a screenplay with a relatively brief length to match. This satire reads quite quickly. In a sense, Bochco has used this platform to expand on his views and, at times, condemnation of the Hollywood industry. We learn where the stars eat lunch, what goes through their minds and we get a general view of the shallowness of the society. Thoroughly entertaining and just the perfect length to sustain interest, DEATH BY HOLLYWOOD is an excellent debut novel by a veteran writer who truly writes about what he knows.
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