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When Hollywood Had a King: The Reign of Lew Wasserman, Who Leveraged Talent into Power and Influence Paperback – July 13, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
But in the old days . . .
Connie Bruck, a veteran writer for The New Yorker, has compiled this fulsome biography of Lew Wasserman, one of the most powerful movers and shakers of an era when movies were virtually the only form of popular entertainment. The power wielded by Wasserman and his contemporaries could mean the difference between professional (and sometimes personal) life and death. (Bruck often discusses the Hollywood "gang" in terms of organized crime. Indeed, there was a great deal of dubious dealings with labor unions, often considered under the concern of the gangster trade.)
Wasserman was the type of leader who drew a mixture of respect and fear. He was "an entertainment mogul without peer," according to one admirer. To another, "he had an aura. He was my god." And like many such men, "his explosive tirades were legend."
Most of the book concerns the wheelings and dealings of the industry. For such a potentially juicy subject, Bruck dishes very little dirt/gossip. Instead she seems more concerned with the financial aspects, which readers will either find fascinating or tedious. There is often too much background that detracts from the overall sense of entertainment a book like this would seem to merit. In fact, Wasserman isn't even mentioned until well into the first chapter. Even the title is a bit hard to get through.Read more ›
An epic work that I highly recommend.
Beginning as a theater usher and later becoming a musician, Wasserman hooked up with Jules Styne and began booking musical acts. The dynamic duo recognized that the swing era of bands, which was their bailiwick, would have a limited life span. The Music Corporation of America then expanded into the world of motion pictures, retaining the name of an organization that sounds like and began as a company rooted in the movie field. One of Wasserman's clients in the late thirties was a young actor under contract to Warner Brothers by the name of Ronald Reagan. He would later be in a major position to assist Wasserman and MCA both as president of the Screen Actors Guild and beyond that as U.S. President. Reagan would always remain a bit miffed, however, that Wasserman, who developed solid relationships with presidents Lyndon Johnson and Bill Clinton, would retain his reputation as a loyal Democrat and hence supported Reagan's opponents. The firm was crafty, however, in keeping a foot in each camp, with Jules Styne and Taft Schreiber supporting Republicans assiduously. This factor helped when Reagan and Richard Nixon were in office.
Connie Bruck has provided an impressive body of research, including numerous interviews with the late Wasserman as well as those who worked with him and knew him well. Her industry pays off in the form of a fascinating study of a man who rose meteorically through the agent's ranks to become the supreme giant of the motion picture industry, the man others feared and envied, often at the same time.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I had previously seen the film "The Last Mogul" which was fascinating. This book gives you a lot more detail and you will understand a lot of things after you read it :)Published 23 months ago by Amazon Customer
Great insight into the formation and expansion of MCA. We now know why Lew Wasserman was kmnown as The King.Published on May 25, 2014 by Henry E Cervino
Connie Bruck does a great job in this work of showing exactly what type of man Lew Wasserman was. Through anecdotes, stories, and interviews, the author makes a rather mysterious... Read morePublished on January 26, 2014 by J. Smallridge
One of the most fascinating men of modern time, Lew Wasserman became the most powerful figure in the entertainment industry. Read morePublished on November 26, 2013 by Tom Bookey
My son needed this for a college class. It was an okay read for both of us but not something I felt worth keeping.Published on July 18, 2013 by SanteeFats