What are the pillars of Hollywood Babylon?
September 3, 2007 9:06 AM   Subscribe

Please point me to resources on the sordid underbelly of Hollywood.

I'm very interested in the inner workings of the Hollywood lifestyle -- the people and industries that prop up the stars and buffer them from scandal. I'm talking about the paparazzi, publicists, bodyguards, entourages, lawyers, club owners, assistants, gossip-mongers, dealers, drivers, thugs, rehabbers and fixers that rotate around celebrities. Are there any good books about the mechanics of the industrial-fame complex? Other resources about all the people that go into making a juicy blind item? (Websites, documentaries -- I hear that the star of Entourage is making a documentary on the paparazzi, which got me thinking about this in the first place).

I'm also a guilty fan of tell-alls of the Hollywood Babylon variety, and would welcome modern books of the same ilk, but I'm more interested in the people who prevent such books from being published until the stars are dead.
posted by Bookhouse to Society & Culture (15 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Two websites that give a peek at some of the inner workings of the TV and film biz: This description of a press junket is pretty interesting and has some insider information. Ken Levine has a lot of good anecdotes in his blog about the sitcoms he's worked on and the shows he's pitched.
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:09 AM on September 3, 2007

You might find Rupert Everett's book on Hollwood, "Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins," to be an interesting read.
posted by ericb at 10:29 AM on September 3, 2007

Best answer: The book High Concept is about Don Simpson (deceased producing partner of Jerry Bruckheimer) and has many tales of excess.

Also, I find Patton Oswalt's description of a gifting suite to be really funny.
posted by sharkfu at 10:37 AM on September 3, 2007

I've got Fame Junkies out from the library right now.
posted by sugarfish at 11:01 AM on September 3, 2007

I really like Crazy Days and Nights, which currently has a juicy old-time Hollywood Babylon blind item that is driving people nuts. It's written by an entertainment lawyer -- old, fat and bald, as he describes himself -- and has some very candid looks at celebrity.
posted by Madamina at 11:54 AM on September 3, 2007

I haven't seen it, but you may like the documentary Girl 27 for some history.
posted by glibhamdreck at 11:57 AM on September 3, 2007

Best answer: I've been a big defamer reader for years. I think it's one of the best entertainment industry gossip blogs in LA, hands down. If you view articles by category you can learn more Hollywood behind the scenes dirt than you ever wanted to know.
posted by miss lynnster at 12:27 PM on September 3, 2007

Heidi Fliess (only spelled correctly) has a book about all of her "dealings" with male movie stars.
posted by thebrokenmuse at 12:38 PM on September 3, 2007

If you're curious about the business -- ideas, deals, and product -- you need to remember that the "sordid underbelly" is almost completely immaterial to the actual business.

In part it's a mostly-fake, if somewhat helpful, adjunct to the PR machine. If helped to sell cars, you'd regularly read about the booze-fueled exploits of whoever designs the latest model Benz or Lexus.

In part it's a sadly-real consequence of giving lots of money and fame to a small set of people who lack the intelligence, maturity and/or breeding that are usually pre-requisite to getting that kind of stuff. Just like sports that way.

The people who really matter -- the top creative and business executives, who spent 10 or 20 years fighting their way to the top -- live an overpriced version of upper middle class respectability as a rule, and are no more likely to partake in that kind of nonsense than top Wall Street guys or top guys in any other business. (Which is to say, somewhat more likely than the average person, because success goes to your head.)
posted by MattD at 12:53 PM on September 3, 2007

You'll Never Eat Lunch In This Town Again is a great tell-all autobiography by Julia Phillips (producer of The Sting, Taxi Driver, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, among others).
posted by amyms at 2:40 PM on September 3, 2007

Bios(not memoirs) of gossip columnists: Hedda Hopper, Walter Winchell, Louella Parsons....
posted by brujita at 3:38 PM on September 3, 2007

I'm also a guilty fan of tell-alls of the Hollywood Babylon variety

After seeing that and your title, I feel obliged to warn you to beware; there's a lot of bullshit in Hollywood Babylon in particular. The section on Fatty Arbuckle is very unfair, e.g. You'll find better inside scoop about Hollywood-related crimes at sites like this than in that book.
posted by mediareport at 3:47 PM on September 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

The Devil's Candy is a brilliant and brutally honest book on the making of Bonfire of the Vanities. It also focuses on a lot of ancillary roles in the movie industry.
posted by meech at 4:24 PM on September 3, 2007

Not exactly what you're asking for but Find-A Death is an older site that has always filled my Hollyweird cravings. It's about the lives and deaths of Hollywood elite.

Also, D-Listed is a good blog, if a bit sophomoric.

Both of these are mostly gossip sites but occasionally have interesting info on strange background players. Find-A-Death especially, since it's meticulously researched and has been online long enough that many former background players send their own stories in.
posted by Brittanie at 5:56 PM on September 3, 2007

Director Bruce Beresford recently released a book called Josh Hartnett Definitely Wants To do This... True Stories From A Life In The Screen Trade. I heard him speak about it and it sounds hilarious.
posted by mooza at 11:28 PM on September 3, 2007

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