The name Aaron Spelling has become synonymous with cotton-candy TV, but Aaron is here to tell you that "Charlie's Angels" and "Beverly Hills 90210" are not the sum of his parts. This life story by justification is occasionally convincing, but it's usually just a hoot. A poor Jewish boy growing up in Texas, Spelling was regularly beaten up until he had a nervous breakdown at age nine. That gave him the opportunity to read, which he says led directly to a career in television. Poor childhood out of the way, Spelling takes a stab at explaining just how rich he is today. Not one to exaggerate, he notes that his house, said to be the largest in Los Angeles County, doesn't have an ice rink as reported. It does boast 12 bedrooms, 2 wrapping rooms (his wife "loves to give presents" ), and a bowling alley. Remarkably, Spelling emerges amid all the excess as a likable guy who is genuinely thrilled at his success. Like his oeuvre, Spelling's autobiography says a lot about fantasy and reality in contemporary America.
From The Mod Squad to Dynasty to Melrose Place, the world's most prolific producer tells his story, anecdote by anecdote by anecdote.
If you sat down right now to watch every hour of the TV shows and movies that Aaron Spelling has produced, it would be a full 125 days later before you were finished. This is assuming, of course, that the human mind could safely survive such an extended dose of Spelling's wares: the endless parade of beautiful vixens and roguish millionaires, hipster PIs and ripe teenyboppers, pervasive pap and ubiquitous fluff. To his credit, Spelling is a modest man. He makes few grand claims for his oeuvre beyond that of entertainment (with an occasional gesture toward social consciousness). As you might expect from his shows, his own story goes from rags to riches. Fleeing pogroms, his parents ended up in Dallas, where the young Spelling struggled with anti-Semitic bullying and the shame of poverty. Books and movies were his only friends, and like many poor Jews of his generation, he believed that the entertainment industry offered a front-row ticket to success. Acting led to directing, which led to writing, then finally to producing. It was here that Spelling found his forte as he, along with various partners, produced an almost uninterrupted string of long-running hits. (It doesn't take a Freudian to realize that pervasive themes of many of these showswish-fulfillment, escapism, social acceptancehave strong autobiographical connections.) While Spelling (with USA Today TV reporter Graham) tells a lot of great showbiz stories, he dishes little dirt. In fact, he has almost nothing unkind to say about anyone. Problem actors, double-dealing executives, obstreperous writersall are treated with a rare tact and courtliness. Perhaps, sometimes, nice guys don't finish last.
Professionally done, with many enjoyable moments, but not quite an Emmy-winning performance.