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by Peter Bart
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312253915, Paperback)In the summer of 1998, as far as Hollywood was concerned, nothing went the way it was supposed to. As Peter Bart recaps that season:
A cheaply made gross-out comedy generated twice the revenues of a Steven Spielberg high-concept adventure; two pricey asteroid films collided, yet neither suffered damage; Jim Carrey made a hit movie that didn't offer a single laugh; Eddie Murphy buried his hard edge long enough to make two successful, warm-and-cuddly family films; Harrison Ford made a love story playing opposite a self-avowed lesbian; and finally, defying the mythology of the "youth demos," two stars in their sixties, Robert Redford and Warren Beatty, enjoyed yet another warm moment in the sun.Bart is a seasoned observer of the film industry both as studio executive (holding seats at Paramount and MGM/UA) and as the editor in chief of Variety and Daily Variety. His insider's perspective, and his ability to gain access to the major players in the business, serve him well here. The Gross is filled with juicy behind-the-scenes stories on how certain summer blockbusters got made and positioned for release--even though the book could strongly benefit from both an index, to make finding information on particular films easier, and information on its sources, to determine exactly how much of the story is Bart's original legwork and how much comes from the trades. Along the way, he sketches a grim portrait of an industry whose leaders have become increasingly frustrated with the high cost of filmmaking; even when they're making fun-filled romps like The Mask of Zorro and Armageddon, people at the studios don't seem to be enjoying themselves. Bart manages to cover almost every major summer release of '98 with enough detail to hold readers' interest, so while The Gross may not be the ultimate overview of the film business, it's a captivating snapshot of an industry in flux. --Ron Hogan
(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:54:17 -0400)
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