They Can Kill You but They Can't Eat You... and Other Lessons from the Front

They Can Kill You but They Can't Eat You... and Other Lessons from the Front

by Dawn Steel, Judith Regan

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Hypnotically frank, though not for the ages, the memoirs of movie producer Steel; or, Horatio Alger Walks through Lions in Darkest Hollywood—and gets killed but not eaten. Steel has major hair and was the first female head of production at Paramount and then, at Columbia, the first female president of a movie company. She tells her story straight out, with no urge to write finely, peppering it with just enough kiss- and-tell to keep faith with the Shelley Winters School of Confession while modestly not striving to outdo the founder. No one will read this for its hot sex among the famed; it's about power—who gives it, who takes it away. As Steel says, "'s not a good idea to sleep with people you work with. Trust me on this...You can only sleep your way to the middle. It's not worth it." Whatever heights she reaches, Steel finds that power is illusionary—although for one brief shining moment she has it all—and that power-without-creativity and its endless rounds of board meetings and executive decisions drains her soul, while working hands-on making one picture at a time (rather than 27) is sheer joy. Steel first hits big as a marketing innovator at Penthouse, goes on to market her own designer toilet paper and cute soaps, and finally is wooed into marketing in Hollywood and gets handed the first Star Trek movie to tie into promotions with Howard Johnson's, Coke, etc., a job at which she goes over the top. Affairs bloom with Richard Gere and Martin Scorsese, among others, but she always entwines with unmarriageable men because of bad memories of her depressed dad. When she finally lands at the top, she finds herself beheaded by Paramount during delivery of herfirst baby at 40. A winner for sure, but less blindly battered and pain-ridden than Art Linson's arias in A Pound of Flesh (reviewed above).

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Atria Books
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