Mr. and Mrs. Hollywood: Edie and Lew Wasserman and their Entertainment Empireby Kathleen Sharp
From Hollywood back lots to the Oval Office, here is the full, authoritative story of how superagent to the stars, Lew Wasserman, and his politically savvy wife, Edie, built and refined an entertainment empire that determined the course of America's popular culture for nearly seven decades. They came from Cleveland -- high school sweethearts, they married during the Depression -- but they conquered Hollywood. At the peak of cinema's Golden Age, while Edie socialized with such actors as Jimmy Stewart, Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, and Jane Wyman in clubs and salons near Sunset Strip, Lew wooed stars into the stable of talent agency MCA. By the end of the 1940s he had become chief of the town's biggest talent house.
During the Blacklist, on Edie's advice, Lew steered clear of controversial movie projects. Then, as the film studios began to crumble, he raced to produce shows for the new medium of television. Sharp dealings with Hollywood unions by Lew and his boss, Jules Stein -- including a secret land gift to Ronald Reagan, then president of the Screen Actors Guild -- insured that MCA would be the only agency permitted to produce TV programs. Soon the undisputed master of the small screen, Lew introduced Americans to the Beaver, The Virginian, Columbo, and Rockford. Other coups would follow -- transforming Universal Studios, Inc., which Lew had bought, into a multifaceted purveyor of popular culture that produced hit records, best-selling books, blockbuster movies (Jaws, Animal House, E.T., Jurassic Park), and the first studio-tour-cum-theme-park. Lew's political fundraising prowess would in the meantime provide Hollywood with a mother lode of government gifts and favors, while Edie's own particular genius would cultivate such political stars as Bobby and Ted Kennedy, Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson, Jimmy and Rosalind Carter, Ronnie and Nancy Reagan, and, especially, Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Not that Edie and Lew wouldn't be hounded by antitrust prosecutors and criminal investigators -- they were. Not that they wouldn't be betrayed by proteges, dogged by rivals, and nearly ousted from their realm -- they were, more than once. Still, they would assemble a Hollywood court of inside players, unify the town's fractious studios and some sixty-six unions, and consolidate their place atop the world's leading entertainment corporation. For everyone interested in movies and television and the entertainment business, this first dual biography of Edie and Lew Wasserman, Hollywood's preeminent power couple, is essential reading. For anyone who wonders how power is really wielded in America, it is full of revelations.
- Da Capo Press
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.36(w) x 9.54(h) x 1.96(d)
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