Customer Review

24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy, April 14, 2005
This review is from: Rebels on the Backlot: Six Maverick Directors and How They Conquered the Hollywood Studio System (Hardcover)
This book is a very quick read, but unfortunately shows all the signs of having been an equally quick write. I have never before stopped in the middle of reading a book to pull out a pen and write down all the glaring factual errors and omissions that I saw, but Rebels on the Backlot forced me to do just that. I see that many of the most egregious errors have already been noted by others, but here is some of what I wrote down as I read:

On page 231: "Texas preppie-geek Wes Anderson had made his first movie, Rushmore, based on his experience in prep school, with an utter unknown in the lead, Jason Schwartzman." Wes Anderson's first film, of course, was Bottle Rocket, not Rushmore. And, yes, Jason Schwartzman had no previous film acting experience before Rushmore, but was hardly an "utter unknown" to the film world- his family (both the Schwartzmans and the Coppolas) had done a little bit of film work in their past, both in front of and behind the cameras. Even Waxman might have recognized the mother of this "utter unknown" from all of the Rocky movies.

Traffic star Erika Christensen is identified on page 321 as "Erika Christenssen" and, most howlingly, on page 101 as "Julia Stiles." Yes, the two actresses do look alike, but that's just absurd.

On page 266, describing the marketing of Fight Club, Waxman writes that "Fincher insisted the studio hire a cutting-edge advertising firm, Weiden + Kennedy, based in Seattle." Weiden + Kennedy are based in Portland, home of Nike, their biggest client. They have offices in Portland, New York, Amsterdam, London, Tokyo and Shanghai, but not in Seattle.

On page 194, Waxman describes the profound influence of Aimee Mann's music in the creation of Magnolia, both at the script level, and in the soundtrack. On the very next page, she describes how writer/director PT Anderson got the idea for the film's rain of frogs, as well as its historical prologue, from "musician and friend Michael Penn, Sean's brother." Perhaps Waxman is the only person left in the film or music worlds who doesn't know that, besides being Sean's brother, Michael Penn is also Aimee Mann's husband.

This is a sloppy, poorly researched, poorly written, and incredibly poorly edited book. Reading it, one can easily imagine Waxman's interview subjects seeing how little she knew about her subject, and simply making up absurd lies just to see if she would ever catch them. Spike Jonze tells her that location scouting was conducted to find an actual half-floor building for Being John Malkovich, and she repeats this claim on page 205. I'm sure Jonze is enjoying a good laugh over that.

If you are looking for well-written book on this subject matter, I'd stick with Peter Biskind.
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