The Manhattan Beach Project: A Novel

( 3 )

Overview

Barely four years after winning an Oscar, Charlie has sunk into the ranks of Hollywood bottom-feeders. But one day at his Debtors Anonymous meeting, he meets a mysterious ex-CIA agent who proposes to resuscitate his foundering career in the beyond-surreal world of reality TV. Charlie puts his tap shoes on to sell a show about a ruthless Uzbek warlord and his family?"The Osbournes meets The Sopranos". When Warlord becomes a breakout hit, it not only sends one of America's largest entertainment conglomerates into ...

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The Manhattan Beach Project: A Novel

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Overview

Barely four years after winning an Oscar, Charlie has sunk into the ranks of Hollywood bottom-feeders. But one day at his Debtors Anonymous meeting, he meets a mysterious ex-CIA agent who proposes to resuscitate his foundering career in the beyond-surreal world of reality TV. Charlie puts his tap shoes on to sell a show about a ruthless Uzbek warlord and his family—"The Osbournes meets The Sopranos". When Warlord becomes a breakout hit, it not only sends one of America's largest entertainment conglomerates into full damage-control mode, but shifts the balance of power in Central Asia.

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Editorial Reviews

Janet Maslin
Peter Lefcourt does for Hollywood what Christopher Buckley does for Washington: stick pins in all the right places. Each of them writes comic novels that mix uproarious mischief with an inspired sense of the absurd. In the case of Mr. Lefcourt's latest, the idiocy of reality television provides the dartboard. The genre was not cracked up solely to suit Mr. Lefcourt's purposes; he just makes it seem that way.
— The New York Times
Kirkus Reviews
Another Hollywood romp from Lefcourt (Eleven Karens, 2003, etc.), who takes us on the road with a washed-up TV producer trying to jump-start his career with a reality series in Uzbekistan. Charlie Berns, like every has-been in LA, was a serious player not so long ago. But for the past four years Charlie has run out of ideas-at least the sort anyone in town wants to buy. Broke and homeless, Charlie has been reduced to living in his nephew's pool house and driving a borrowed Honda to his DA (Debtors Anonymous) meetings. At one of these, he meets a shadowy character named Fenster, who claims to work for the CIA and pitches Charlie one of the strangest story ideas he's ever heard: a reality show about a Central Asian warlord. It's an indication of how desperate Charlie is that he not only hears Fenster out but signs on for the pitch, which he takes to a secret subsidiary of ABC called (what else?) ABCD. They snap up Fenster's treatment, and soon Charlie and Fenster are trekking deep into the mountains of Uzbekistan to meet Izbul Kharkov, a rebel warlord who rules over a godforsaken region of the former Soviet Union that's about the size of Montana. A big fan of The Sopranos, Izbul is delighted at the thought of appearing on TV and gladly agrees to allow a crew of Polish cameramen to follow him and his family around all day as they work, eat, argue, copulate, kill camels, fight off hand-grenade attacks, assassinate rivals, and shake down old men and children who owe them money. The show is an immediate hit, but Charlie is the victim of his own success when the Georgian mafia, the State Department, the IRS, and the US Special Forces become involved. No such thing as bad publicity? Maybe in LA,but not Uzbekistan. Outrageously funny, deftly narrated, but spun out for too many pages, tripping up on its own tangled plot. Agent: Esther Newberg/ICM
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781441724205
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/1/2013
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 5.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter Lefcourt is the author of six previous novels: Eleven Karens, The Woody, Abbreviating Ernie, Di and I, The Dreyfus Affair and The Deal. He is also an award-winning writer for film and television.

He lives in Los Angeles.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 2, 2010

    Hilarious!

    Charlie is a washed out Hollywood producer sinking into debt with no way out. Then a mysterious man shows up at his Debtor's Anonymous meeting with an offer he can't refuse. Soon Charlie is deeply mired in a reality show about an Uzbek warlord, madly dodging bullets and tweaking subtitles, trying to stay alive and to keep his crazy show alive. Eventually it will all fall apart, the only question is when. Hilarious! The Manhattan Beach Project is the perfect parody of the reality show craze. Peter Lefcourt has no mercy for anyone connected to the show or any aspect of this insane world. Yet his characters are so likable just because they are so flawed. I was cheering for Charlie even as I was groaning at each indiscretion and phony setup. Tom Weiner is the reader for this audio and he does a superb job. His deep, gravely voice adds just the right touch of irony. I highly recommend this audio book if you need a good laugh!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2005

    return to hollywood

    I'm so happy he went back to one of his best books the Deal. This one is hilarious and I only wish the author could sell one of these to the industry he so well skewers and get some of this magic up on the big screen.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2005

    Smart and very funny

    I don't think I've laughed so hard since I read another one of Peter Lefcourt's books, 'The Woody.' This one is vintage Lefcourt -- a sequel of sorts to his first book, the cult Hollywood satire, 'The Deal.' We pick up the hero of that book, Charlie Berns, a few years after winning the big prize, an Oscar, already down and out again and trying to surive in the nasty jungle of the entertainment business. You don't have to have read 'The Deal' to appreciate this book, but it adds the irony that you're only as good as your last picture, or, in the words of Charlie Berns, 'In Hollywood, you're never quite as dead as people give you credit for.' As in all Lefcourt's books, this one is not just about the entertainment business. It's about redemption, corporate cowardice, Central Asian politics (a chunk of this book takes places in Turkmenistan), political correctness (the difficulty of firing an incompetent and insolent Native American), and anything else that the author feels like skewering. And as in his other books -- i.e., 'The Dreyfus Affair,' or 'Eleven Karens' -- there is a soft center under the satire. I don't know any other writer who combines wit and sentiment in quite the same way. A great read.

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