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The Devil's Guide to Hollywood: The Screenwriter as God! Hardcover – September 19, 2006

3.8 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

After 31 years in the Hollywood trenches and 15 films including Flashdance, Basic Instinct and Showgirls, screenwriter Eszterhas delivers a dishy, catty mix of reminiscences and Hollywood trivia in the guise of a handbook for wannabe screenwriters. Writing in a format perfect for readers with ADD, Eszterhas offers hundreds of instructive epigraphs, each an excuse for a short, gossipy paragraph. He includes a smattering of basic advice (avoid having your ideas ripped off by going to pitch meetings with a witness), warnings about producers, agents, directors and actors ("The word star is rats spelled backwards"), self-aggrandizing tales of wheeling and dealing, and tangents about various sexcapades (his own and other screenwriters'). He doesn't stint on snide comments about people he's worked with, like Sharon Stone, or about those he's refused to work with, like Michael Ovitz. Eszterhas includes fun quotes from Hollywood legends like Ben Hecht and Raymond Chandler and his fellow Hungarian, Zsa Zsa Gabor, but his forte is skewering sycophants and phonies in this opinionated showcase of the underside of Hollywood life. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Eszterhas, whose credits include Basic Instinct, Flashdance, and Jagged Edge, is one of the best-known screenwriters around and has penned a laugh-out-loud funny and useful guide for those who aspire to making it big in Hollywood. Make no mistake: Eszterhas is frank about his aim to write about the commercial aspect of screenwriting. Through quotes, quips, and anecdotes, Eszterhas lays bare the cruel and often downright strange world of moviemaking. From getting paid $4 million for an outline to learning that a rewriter is trying to take credit for one of his films, Eszterhas has an intimate knowledge of the way the business works. He firmly advises aspiring screenwriters not to live in Los Angeles, a city he finds far removed from the rest of the world, and cautions them about talking about their ideas. "Real writers sit down and write; wannabe writers sit around and talk." Aspiring and practical would-be screenwriters looking for good advice will find this offering inspiring and hilarious. Kristine Huntley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press (September 19, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031235987X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312359874
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,320,585 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Who is Joe Eszterhas? His most famous films are Basic Instinct, Sliver, Showgirls, and Jade. His first screenplay was made into a film which I've always considered one of the most underappreciated movies of all time, F.I.S.T. He has written lots of others.

About the book, I'll be honest, I loved it.

After the New York Times Book Review came out I ordered it immediately. The following Saturday, when I first had the time to devote to it, I spent the entire day reading it from cover to cover (like many of the studio executives who Eszterhas lampooms, my lips must move as a read because I'm a slow reader). Here is my take on it:

First, I think that the chapters are taken from Eszterhas' writing notebooks. That is a good thing. This is the raw data of years of reading, listening, and contemplating Hollywood and the screenwriters craft. It is filled with seemingly good advice, but advice you'd never get from, say, Richard Walter, head of the Screenwriting Department at UCLA. This is less genteel advice. This is straightalking from a veteran who has been in the trenches, survived the battles, and is here is help teach other screenwriters how to make it in the business.

Don't expect a smooth flowing narrative, except for the last chapter about his unproduced screenplay---"SACRED COW"---about and American President caught on film having sex with a cow, and owning up to it when he is caught. That Chapter, unlike the others, was written as a single essay. The remainder of the book is a collection of thoughts about writers, agents, directors, producers, actors, and Hollywood from someone who knows.

P.S. Why did I give it only 4 stars instead of 5? Amazon suffers from grade inflation. To Kill a Mockingbird gets 5 stars from me. 4 stars is still pretty darn good.
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Format: Hardcover
For those of you who don't know (I didn't), Joe Eszterhas is the screenwriter who wrote the motion picture Basic Instinct, among many others. Eszterhas also set the Hollywood record for what he got paid writing a screenplay, which was in the millions, and once got paid a few milllion dollars for a four page outline (literally). This is not your typical bland screenwriting how-to book. In fact, the title of this book is appropriate, as Joe Eszterhas is a berserker out-of-control renegade in every sense of the word.

As opposed to other screenwriting books that spend chapter after chapter talking about character development, Eszterhas starts out by telling you this book is about making money (period). Then he dives into such "interesting" topics as sleeping with Sharon Stone, the day he smashed a table in a film studio's office, his rampant alcoholism, and how much he hates most of Hollywood. Eszterhas compares screenwriting to going to war, and takes aim at the most prolific screenwriting "teacher", Robert McKee on numerous occasions throughout the book. I could go on and on, but this book is definitely off-the-meter in terms of Chaos Factor. In fact, I am sure that he gave his legal counsel a heart attack ... or seven.

If you want an interesting book that breaks all the rules, check out The Devil's Guide to Hollywood, by Joe Eszterhas. I finished it last night, and I am still laughing.

Lee Rudnicki
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By D.S. on October 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
First of all, I am one of many hundred of thousands who are wannabe screenwriters/writers. I do not live in L.A. and have no intention to. That being said, I am still learning the "industry".

Joe Esterhas, a highly successful screenwriter best known for writing the films, Basic Instinct, Flashdance and Showgirls has written a funny but bitter book. This is not an autobiography but more of a personal journal type, using quotes to express his highly charged emotions and opinions in an easy to read style that gives plenty of advice to writers pursuing the Hollywood dream.

By the end of the book, after the laughing and wondering if what you read is true, or a collection of rumors and whispers by a man who is tired of the Hollywood bashing of screenwriters, seeeking revenge.

But make no mistake, you will learn:
- He hates Robert McKee and his seminars
- He hates agents
- He hates producers
- He hates directors
- He hates studio execs
- Loves and his very proud of his Hungarian heritage
- Admits openly of his own personal demons and sexual conquests

Simply put, he hates anyone in Hollywood who screws the writer over and in his eyes, it happens way too often.

Also be forwarned of foul language and lots of sex. The book is still very good with short quips to hold one's attention and there is some great advice to be taken. But as a newcomer, I am taking most of it with a grain of salt.
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Format: Hardcover
Having already published one salacious account of his life as a Hollywood screenwriter (Hollywood Animal), Joe Eszterhas has decided to repackage the story as an ostensible guide for screenwriters. The title is revealing: if the writer can't decide if he is god or devil, we should be suspicious of his stated objective, if not his grandiosity. I enjoyed his irreverent tirade about the film industry from a writer's perspective. But despite being organized into chapters that address the steps in film production from screenplay to theatrical release, this is not a "how- to" guide. It is actually a collection of quotations and anecdotes only loosely related to the author's undeniable experience with producing commercially (if not critically) successful screenplays. These are presented in sound bite-sized entries stretched out with generous spacing. Each comes with a cheesy heading - such as "Reelspeak": definitions of supposedly insider vocabulary. All the empty space makes this a much quicker read than the 360-ish pages would lead you to expect. Another caveat is that many of the tasteless but amusing anecdotes he claims to have "captured" are never sourced. Some of the accounts attributed to Marilyn Monroe and others are so unflattering that I wonder if these are less gossip than examples of screenwriting craft.

I give it three stars for being a light, fun read for anyone interested in filmmaking from the screenwriter's point of view.
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