Mr. and Mrs. Hollywood: Edie and Lew Wasserman and their Entertainment Empire

Overview

The Wassermans ruled over twentieth-century Hollywood by building MCA, the world's largest talent agency, which ultimately devoured the global multibillion-dollar conglomerate, Universal Studios. Hounded by antitrust prosecutors, attacked by lesser rivals, and betrayed by their own proteges, this supremely powerful couple vanquished their enemies while extending their influence beyond Sunset Strip, into governors' mansions, Senate chambers, the White House, and international boardrooms. Lew was uber-agent to ...

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New York, NY 2003 Hard cover New in new dust jacket. Glued binding. Paper over boards. With dust jacket. 599 p. Contains: Illustrations. Audience: General/trade. Clean, tight ... copy with no writing. APPEARS NEVER TO HAVE BEEN READ! As new dust jacket with light shelf wear for its age. Read more Show Less

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Mr. and Mrs. Hollywood: Edie and Lew Wasserman and Their Entertainment Empire

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Overview

The Wassermans ruled over twentieth-century Hollywood by building MCA, the world's largest talent agency, which ultimately devoured the global multibillion-dollar conglomerate, Universal Studios. Hounded by antitrust prosecutors, attacked by lesser rivals, and betrayed by their own proteges, this supremely powerful couple vanquished their enemies while extending their influence beyond Sunset Strip, into governors' mansions, Senate chambers, the White House, and international boardrooms. Lew was uber-agent to legendary stars, a pioneering TV producer and a film mogul with a Midas touch. He was a boss to sixty-two labor unions, a diplomat, political kingmaker, and cultural statesman. His wife and champion, Edie, was the daughter of a Cleveland mob attorney, the queen of Hollywood's social A-list, and Lew's secret agent who used her cunning and charm to help him. For more than sixty years, the couple played a central role in shaping the Golden Age of TV, the glamorization of Las Vegas, the development of the blockbuster film (Psycho, Jaws, E.T.) and the elevation of the entertainment industry into America's number-one export. Sharp also chronicles the Wassermans' extraordinary philanthropy which made them the most generous of Hollywood's benefactors. 16 pages of black and white photographs are included.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
As a top executive at MCA, Lew Wasserman was one of the biggest agents in the movie industry, then topped that by becoming one of the most powerful studio heads ever, orchestrating the gradual takeover of Universal Studios starting in 1958. His wife, Edie, was equally powerful in the realm of the "Hollywood Wives," throwing parties where other executive spouses mixed with starlets like Janet Leigh. Sharp, the Boston Globe's Hollywood correspondent, covers much of the same territory as Connie Bruck's recent Wasserman bio, When Hollywood Had a King (Forecasts, Apr. 28), but the attention she gives to Edie adds celebrity gossip to the mix as well as a new facet on the matter of MCA's ties to organized crime. She also sheds light on new aspects of Lew's career, like his guiding hand in the development of early videodisc technology. The book clarifies the frosty relationship between Lew and Ronald Reagan while revealing how Reagan may have colluded with MCA while heading the Screen Actors Guild, depriving SAG members of potentially lucrative residual benefits. While Bruck remains a better source on MCA's early years, Sharp offers additional insights into how Wasserman transformed a talent agency into a studio that produced nearly half of all prime-time programming in the late 1970s, then found creative ways to keep all the profits for itself. Drawing upon more than 450 interviews, Sharp blends corporate maneuvering and personal scandals into a gripping portrait of the original power couple. 16-page photo insert not seen by PW. (Dec.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A Hollywood biography more dramatic and enthralling than most of what its subjects produce. Although they were the quintessential Hollywood power couple, Edie and Lew Wasserman never cared for publicity-and with good reason, as they came from different sides of the same crooked coin. Born in Cleveland in the early part of the 20th century, Edie to a wealthy German-American Jewish family and Lew (then Louis) to dirt-poor Russian-Jewish immigrants, they each had roots in organized crime. Edie's father was an infamous fixer for the Cleveland Syndicate, while Lew booked nightclub acts into Mob-owned joints in Cleveland, then Chicago, for the nascent MCA talent agency. Boston Globe Hollywood correspondent Sharp (In Good Faith, 1995) begins her narrative in 1958, when the couple were already king and queen of Hollywood, judiciously ladling in the juicy background info later. By the late '50s, Lew was not only running MCA, the mega-agency that locked up most of the Hollywood talent just as the studio system began to crumble, he had recently bought the land that cash-strapped Universal sat on, becoming the studio's landlord and ultimately its owner for a mere $12 million. After that, the coups rat-a-tat, as Lew courts up-and-coming politicos JFK and Reagan, sidesteps a Justice Department antitrust investigation, maneuvers MCA's (and then Universal's) TV division into a profit powerhouse, introduces the modern blockbuster with Jaws, and so on, before passing away in 2002. Not surprisingly, Edie is often shoved to the background here, but Sharp ably depicts her conniving ways as the queen bee of Hollywood society, somebody who wasn't afraid to use any means at her disposal to get ahead, just likeher husband. The author is alternately enraptured and horrified by the Wassermans, as most anyone would be when confronted by such a staggering amount of guile, ambition, and cold-blooded genius. Lavish and extravagant, gossipy yet even-handed, maximizing a great story: likely to become the standard text on the Wassermans.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786712205
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 10/25/2003
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 6.36 (w) x 9.54 (h) x 1.96 (d)

Table of Contents

Prologue xi
Part I Obtaining the Prize: 1958-1962 1
13
215
322
430
542
649
762
869
977
1086
1197
12106
13115
Part II Rising to the Test: 1962-1969 123
14125
15136
16147
17157
18169
19178
20188
21199
22213
23226
Part III Celebrating the Crown: 1969-1980 241
24243
25251
26263
27275
28285
29294
30304
31317
32334
33347
34357
Part IV Safeguarding the Legacy: 1981-2002 367
35369
36380
37395
38404
39427
40433
41447
42458
43468
44479
45488
Epilogue 500
Endnotes 510
Bibliography 573
Acknowledgments 577
Index 581
About the Author 599
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