A Pound of Flesh: Perilous Tales of How to Produce Movies in Hollywood

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9780802135513: A Pound of Flesh: Perilous Tales of How to Produce Movies in Hollywood

The author, a Hollywood producer, describes how movies are made, sharing his experiences working with Robert De Niro, Brian De Palma, Sean Penn, and Sean Connery

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Review:

Art Linson, producer of such Hollywood films as Car Wash, The Untouchables, Melvin & Howard, and This Boy's Life, among others, has written a chummy and chatty how-to "for that small and perhaps unfortunate group"--aspiring movie producers. Seduced by the glitz, glamour, and cutthroat glee that clung (and clings) to Hollywood producers, young Linson never really "got" what it was they did. In 1961, when he was getting started, a producer's role was as ill-defined as it was just this side of unseemly. Producers, begins Linson in the highly amusing, anecdotal A Pound of Flesh, were "compared to Willy Loman, not Arthur Miller."

Make no mistake: Linson is lecturing to the Hollywood aspirant--not to aspiring auteurs or scrappy independent filmmakers. As such, A Pound of Flesh is a strange breed--more travelogue through Tinseltown than down-to-earth how-to. It's ripe with gossip and "aren't we wonderful?" scenes--the morphing of Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas into an updated, drug-drenched version of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Walking into Thompson's hotel room for the initial meeting, Linson was confronted with a smoking gun and a four-inch hole in the wall. And that's just the beginning of their "negotiations." (The film actually became Where the Buffalo Roam, starring Bill Murray.)

Where the chatty, chummy Linson primer becomes useful is with behind-the-scenes examples of such "lessons" as pitching the idea; working with writers, directors, and cast members; and understanding budgets and the studio system. Where it goes soft is with such vague and hip promptings as "if you have a head filled with good ideas, an extended list of Hollywood hangouts is more beneficial than a list of agencies and production companies." So introverts beware! To succeed in Hollywood, you still need the chutzpah, the connections, and the dough.

Wild exploits, turns of fate, and serendipities characterize the brazen and breezy teachings of A Pound of Flesh. What is fabulous is Linson's unbridled enthusiasm. Aspirants and movie fans alike will find this highly entertaining book a quick read, hard to put down, and irresistible. But rely on Linson as your sole Virgil through Tinseltown and your dreams of artistic success will surely falter.

From the Back Cover:

Have you ever wondered what a Hollywood movie producer actually does? In A Pound of Flesh, producer Art Linson takes us behind closed doors on a rare backstage tour through Hollywood. With amusing stories that recount his challenging experiences with a legion of players whose roster includes David Mamet, Robert De Niro, Jeff Katzenberg, Brian De Palma, Sean Penn, Ned Tanen, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, and Sean Connery, Unson sheds klieg lights on the mystery behind the moviemaking process. From acquiring scripts to hiring a writer, packaging the talent, and facing the horror of opening night, you'll glimpse the sweat on the brows of some of Tinseltown's hottest players as they sidestep minefields at the box office, grin through embarrassing defeats, and occasionally bow to the magic of success. A Pound of Flesh is the first guide by a true insider to exactly how movies get made in Hollywood. Linson maps the entire course, beginning with that initial spark of an idea that propels the producer into action, through unpredictable and often chaotic meetings with writers, agents, and movie executives, and even on to the fearsome task of confronting preview audiences and the critics. He chronicles his own disasters and successes, charting the bloody process by which a film is finally, and at times painfully, realized on the screen. We are brought into executive suites, made privy to cellular phone conversations, and escorted onto the sets of multimillion-dollar productions to see what it takes to get a movie made, as well as to learn why other projects, despite the vast effort and money behind them, can ultimately end up gathering dust on some studio's forgotten shelf, or in pieces on the cuttingroom floor. A Pound of Flesh is an engaging, informative, and oftentimes hilarious account of one man's odyssey to compete in America's cruelest, most glamorous industry. This is a book for film students, movie lovers, and anyone interested in the backstage drama of Hollywood.

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Art Linson
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Linson, Art
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Linson, Art
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