Paula Parisi, who spent a decade covering tech-heavy films for The Hollywood Reporter, is among the very, very few journalists whom the notoriously thin-skinned director James Cameron trusts. He granted her amazing access to Titanic, the costliest film ever made. Parisi puts you there on that fascinating, top-secret set, while Kate Winslet flirtatiously calls out from the dark, moody grotto of the 100-foot water tank to Leo DiCaprio, "Darling! Come join me on the debris!" We get privileged glimpses of Cameron shaping his star's performance, right down to his gait in his crucial entrance to the high-society dinner--"You're a little too funky chicken there, Leo ... don't nod to the waiter!"
She has great details about the infamous incident in which some jerk poisoned the crew with the terrifying hallucinogen PCP, sending 56 people to the emergency room. PCP transformed Cameron into a replica of Schwarzenegger in his film Terminator. "Life imitates art," Cameron's pal Lewis Abernathy tells Parisi. "One eye was completely red, just like the Terminator eye. A pupil, no iris, beet red. The other eye looked like he'd been sniffing glue since he was four ... I'm thinking call an organ donor bank, next of kin ... And he puts on this big ol' grin and says, 'Finish the movie, Lewis, you know what to do!'"
The set medic tamed panic with pop music, just like the Titanic orchestra--only Roy Orbison instead of ragtime. Star Bill Paxton made a daring escape from the hospital and got back to the set in time for the conga line.
Cameron's ego is so damn can-do that he feels he could have saved the passengers of Titanic if he had been the captain. To save everybody, Cameron tells Parisi, the captain simply should have loaded everybody aboard the iceberg! "They would have been cold, but they would have lived."
Parisi is the opposite of the typical scorpion-like showbiz reporter; she is pro-Cameron. To get to her unrivalled inside scoops, you have to wade through gushing sentences such as, "The symmetry and perfection of the room are as awesome as anything out of Kubrick's Barry Lyndon or The Shining." She does not dwell on the script's weaknesses, as most of the press and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences did.
But if you have a scintilla of interest in how this infinitely difficult and technically innovative film was made, Parisi's is the book to buy. --Tim Appelo
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
In the wake of James Cameron's Titanic (14 Academy nominations, 11 Oscars, a billion-dollar worldwide box office), Parisi traces the development of project "Big Boat" from inception to conclusion in a tribute to "the man who did more than any other to revolutionize the look of film as we enter the new millennium." Written in a breezy, reportorial style, the book details the execution of Cameron's vision of Titanic "as a kind of living history." Cameron's notorious perfectionism prompted the building of a 750-foot replica of the Titanic and the building of Cameron's own film studio in Mexico. Called the 100 Day Studio, it was the first built by one of the Hollywood majors since the 1930s. Taking responsibility for his excesses, Cameron (in an unprecedented move) reassigned his profit-sharing back to Twentieth Century-Fox. Surpassing Waterworld's gigantic budget, Titanic became the most expensive movie ever made. Staffers wore T-shirts proclaiming: "You Can't Scare Me I Work for James Cameron." But Mr. Action King pulled it off. At the cost of $1 million per minute, Titanic became the highest-grossing film ever in the U.S., exceeding Star Wars. There is an old-fashioned feel to the story of the making of Titanic, and Parisi's lively portrayal recalls the egomaniacal geniuses of yore, particularly D.W. Griffith, whose daring innovations founded the movies as an art form by 1912. Is Cameron the D.W. Griffith of the 21st century? Time, the greatest Titan of all, will tell. 16-page color photo insert not seen by PW.
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