In the preface, Lefcourt explains why he considered-but decided against-altering some of the dated pop culture and industry trappings of his 1991 Hollywood satire. This candor provides some valuable context for contemporary listeners as they are transported back to a world where mobile phones were a novel accessory in select luxury automobiles, and e-mail wasn't ubiquitous. Macy (who co-stars with Meg Ryan in the upcoming film adaptation) certainly does justice to the characters. He gives pitch-perfect voice to Charlie Berns, a down-on-his luck producer, whose rise from the ashes would qualify as inspirational were it not for the absurdity of his tactics. Macy also delivers especially memorable turns portraying Lefcourt's lovable eccentrics, including a hard-drinking, reclusive script doctor and Charlie's studio-assigned secretary who speaks with maddening pauses in between her words. Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
A Washington Square Press paperback (Reviews, Feb. 22, 1991). (Feb.)
Screenwriter Lefcourt's first novel is a hilariously entertaining insider's look at the business of making movies. Charlie Berns is a down-and-out producer, so ``out'' that he's become a virtual unknown. Berns has taped up the windows of his house and sent his up-to-date obituary to the newspaper, and he's about to kill himself via carbon monoxide poisoning, courtesy of his Mercedes, when his plans are interrupted by the appearance of his nephew, Lionel Travitz, a fledgling screenwriter. Lionel has written a screenplay based on the life of Queen Victoria's prime minister Benjamin Disraeli. Suicide plans are put on hold as Charlie, now proud owner of a ``property,'' is back in business. He manages to secure black superstar Bobby Mason for the lead along with enough money to begin production. After a rewrite and a ``conceptual change,'' Bill and Ben becomes Lev Disraeli: Freedom Fighter and the film begins shooting in Yugoslavia. When the leading man is kidnapped, however, Berns must do some tap-dancing to keep his movie alive. A cast of colorful, memorable characters and dexterous, witty writing make this a laugh-out-loud, thoroughly enjoyable novel. 25,000 first printing; BOMC selection. (Apr.)
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Fiftyish, his career down the tubes, ex-B-movie producer Charlie Berns is interrupted rigging his suicide device by his fresh-college-grad nephew sporting an unfilmable screenplay about Benjamin Disraeli and William Gladstone. Berns makes a ``deal'' and turns it into a terrorist action thriller ( Lev Disraeli--Freedom Fighter ) to star a just-turned-Jewish black superstar and to be filmed with blocked dinars in Yugoslavia. How Charlie gets back to square one, shooting the original script, involves Macedonian terrorists, a Japanese megacorporation, a Cannes-darling director who hates shooting dialog, a stuffy, bankable English actor (Jeremy Ikon), and lots of sljivovica . The plot goes soft in its last quarter, chiefly with a conventional love affair for Charlie and a (predictable) Oscar. The book is no The Loved One , but with its sharply delineated characters, this first novel is the wittiest, friskiest Hollywood satire to come off the freeway in several years. BOMC main selection; previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/90.-- David Bartholomew, NYPL
YA-- Charlie Berns, a movie producer with nothing to promote, is literally saved when his nephew Lionel appears with a script in hand. His story, ``Bill and Ben,'' dramatizes the historic rivalry between William Gladstone and Benjamin Disraeli, at least until the studio executives, actors, agents, and publicity departments get into the act. The plot is transformed into a terrorist movie starring a black actor as the black-belt, Israeli hero, now called Lev Disraeli. The deal keeps changing, and only Charlie knows the score. This is a racy, irreverent, hilarious poke at Hollywood and its denizens. The plot (of the book and the movie) moves cleverly and quickly, while the characters (in the book, not the movie) are believable. Four-letter words abound but fit naturally in the setting. Mature YAs interested in the movie industry will need no cues for laughs. --Judy Sokoll, Fairfax County Pub . Lib . , VA
Los Angeles Times Book Review You can count the wonderful novels about Hollywood on two hands.... The Deal is one of them. The Philadelphia Inquirer The Deal is an offer you should not refuse. West Coast Review of Books Lefcourt writes with panache and laugh-aloud humor.
New York Times Book Review A good-natured romp through the dream factory.