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On Spec: A Novel of Young Hollywood Paperback – June 7, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 1st edition (June 7, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031228053X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312280536
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.7 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,388,224 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Young film industry up-and-comers tell their own damning story of behind-the-scenes narcissism in this caustic satire of millennial Hollywood. The professional fates of five Tinseltown characters are tied together by a spec script called Kennel Break. The script is originally conceived as a gritty tale of two smalltime hoods breaking a girlfriend's Rottweiler out of the pound, but is eventually reworked as, alternately, a high-budget thriller of international jewel thieves, a women's issues vehicle and a summer release for kids featuring a pet dinosaur. Predictably, it ends up as an uneasy mixture of all the above. Stu Bluminvitz, an aspiring screenwriter who lives with his parents, has big dreams for his project and future, but has a lot to learn about the role of writers in Hollywood--specifically, that they're at the bottom of the food chain. Stu puts his fate in the hands of several flashy, ambitious wannabes, who are all as giddily drunk on the dream as he is. The players include aspiring producer Eric Whitfield, a talented party host who knows how to find the best cigars, drugs and lap-dancers; aspiring super-agent Todd Hirtley, a paranoid master of image control; aspiring studio executive Deana Cohen, who vows never to forget the little people; and aspiring actress Chelsea Starlot, a sexy Midwestern transplant who teeters between cocaine-induced mania and Scientological serenity. First-time novelist Rushfield fashions a candid, colloquial and at times dizzily paced narrative out of memos, notes on computers and Dictaphones and jotted down in journals, snippets from a magazine article and a police blotter, and other fragments. A writer for Vanity Fair and Details, Rushfield employs a scathing cynicism that spares no one, and while his swift and humorous trip behind the Hollywood facade may not be shocking, it's certainly entertaining. (Mar.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

The Alice-in-Wonderland world of Hollywood is dissected with sardonic wit in Rushfield's delightful first novel. The tale takes the form of a series of journal entries written by the people responsible for making a truly terrible movie. Stu Bluminvitz, a talent-free screenwriter who lives in his parents' basement, has concocted a dreadful script that ends up in the hands of a high-powered agent-producer and a studio head who are each in desperate need of a hit. As his script is changed beyond recognition, Stu is pushed into the background and finally thrown off the studio grounds when he's mistaken for a stalker. Meanwhile, a starlet sleeps her way into the movie and drives everyone crazy with her cocaine and her New Age paranoia. The characters are etched in acid: no one is trustworthy, everyone is looking for an angle, and when the movie justifiably bombs, tails are covered with alacrity. Rushfield's debut won't make anyone forget The Day of the Locust, but it provides solid entertainment. George Needham --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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I strongly recommend you find a copy of On Spec and give it a quick read.
Steven Gomez
Its writer, Stu Bluminvitz, gets treated terribly by everyone around him (except his Mom and Dad) and yet, like Candide, he just doesn't seem to notice.
Kevin Killian
"On Spec" is the real deal--an extremely funny and deft rendering of Hollywood ambition and absurdity.
WB

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Joelle Amiee Ostrich on May 13, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Extremely well-written, engaging and inescapably funny, the final resolution ties together a plot that is fufilling and rewarding. Even for someone who lives in the Beltway and could care less for the intricate details of mass-produced culture, this book was a great introduction to just how non-meritorious the entertainment biz seems to be.
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By Steven Gomez on February 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Richard Rushfield tells On Spec in diary form from the points of view of five different people in the film industry of Hollywood, CA during the big blockbuster boom era of the 90's. The book is all about the shallow, materialistic, cutthroat and money/power-hungry world of cinema.

This book flew under the radar as it was released sometime around the 9-11-01 attacks, which stopped the world and so on, thus making a book like this come off as rather poor taste. It was not promoted much and quickly forgotten.

Which is a shame, because it's an entertaining gut-check on what Hollywood is really like. Though it's written as a farce, Rushfield is a former screenwriter and film assistant, and one has to conclude that there's a great degree of truth to his borderline-caricature characters. One can even speculate that the mystery assistant's experience with Todd Hirtley is based on personal experience.

The easy narrative makes this book a quick read. The book doesn't start slow, but it can be a bit disarming as you get to know the main characters. You may even need to go back and re-read the beginning chapters once you know who's who. The running gag in this book is that you see a scene from one character's POV, and of course the character speaks highly of him/herself, but then you cut to another character who starts by retelling the same scene, while speaking very badly of that previous narrator. That itself gives this book great entertainment value.

As the pitch and rewrite process continues in its train wreck way, the plot appears to spin its wheels in place, but things pick up and derail completely once production begins. The ending is open ended and epiloguish. The end result of the movie, like many of the book's moments, is laughingly predictable.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By bill katovsky on July 9, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
this is hollywood high-concept at its most obscene. less a novel than a pasting together of journal entries by stock characters who include a screenwriter, agent, producer, studio head, actress, and "d-girl," on spec soars on the wings of the author's gift of mimicry and dialogue. it was pitch perfect, in my estimation; he got the psychotic and neurotic, the egotistical and shameless comings and goings of players within the movie business realm in ways that should make any screenwriter cringe in envy. the passages are hilarious and brilliant, and quite credible. what doesn't work in the end is the plot; to state his satirical case, the author keeps upping the ante until mild satire becomes outright slapstick. but perhaps he needed to make a point that is all too obvious--how else to explain an industry that will spend a hundred million dollars for a remake of "the flintstones" or "the adventures of rocky and bullwinkle." any industry that takes itself so seriously and yet continues to deceive itself by foisting onto the public works of utter garbage, almost defies being satirized. this book though belongs on the same shelf as the player, the day of the locusts, and the pat hobby stories by fitzgerald.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Killian HALL OF FAME on December 30, 2004
Format: Paperback
ON SPEC is a novel very much of its time and place. It had the misfortune of being released at a time when the US reading public wasn't in the mood for acidly funny satires of Hollywood development hell, not that most people care about that kind of thing anyhow, despite the recent book OPEN SEASON which purports to theorize that Joe Average knows about big box office. But Rushfield is a warm, compassionate writer with a knack for creating humorous characters, a kind of Max Shulman of the 1990s, and his book should have done better. Hell, even KENNEL BREAK wound up sounding like a good feature film. Its writer, Stu Bluminvitz, gets treated terribly by everyone around him (except his Mom and Dad) and yet, like Candide, he just doesn't seem to notice.

It's a book which makes you wonder--why write at all? ON SPEC was advertised as being like Bridget Jones' Diary, but the truth is, it is more like a Terry Southern novel than anything written in the past thirty years. Some have evinced the novels of Bruce Wagner, but Wagner is playing in a different ballpark altogether. It is to Rushfield we turn to when we want to find how things were done under the desks of Hollywood bigwigs in the decadent days before 9/11.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By R. Spell VINE VOICE on June 4, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A very witty, totally cliche oriented tale of Hollywood. It's impossible to not see the humor in his over-the-top story of various Hollywood players. From the almost Producer, to the Uber (in love with himself) agent to the hopeful actress who will do anything to be a star, this movie has it all. It's written in diary form by all the characters and relates the same events from various participants. At first it's difficult to follow but eventually the storytelling is very funny as you learn more of the characters.
Of course the most sympathetic character is the poor mistreated writer since a writer wrote the book. But this character is so pathetic; he almost deserves everything coming to him.
One more tale of a supposed good story that Hollywood jerks around till it looks totally different. At least that we know to be true in real Hollywood. I actually would rate this 3 1/2 stars if I could.
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