A low-budget play about Napoleon and his mistress mutates into a bloated example of everything that is wrong with Hollywood in this excellent novel by novelist/screenwriter Connolly (A Girl Who Came to Stay). The story opens with the discovery of the dead bodies of the movie's two stars, its director and a world-famous musician. In an extended flashback, it then chronicles the rocky making of the movie: of playwright Charlie Holyoake trading away promises and guarantees for the chance to see his story on the big screen; of egotistical stars battling over trailer size, and an out-of-control director shooting over two-million feet of film; of producer Harvey Bamberg watching his movie, his future and his gorgeous wife slip away from him as a $5-million art film becomes a $100-million potential disaster. This is a wide-screen look at Hollywood's worst sins-the equation of money with talent; the casual corruption of everything from innocence to an artist's individual vision; the cult of celebrity-that yet never loses the sense of wonder that the movies can instill. Through crisp, straightforward, third-person narration, Connolly tells his tale with energy and detachment, making sure that the absurdities of Hollywood unfold without comment-which makes their craziness even more jarring. He avoids simplistic parody or satire, moreover, by carefully individualizing his huge cast of characters. So accurate and so cutting is the portrait he paints that even citizens of Tinseltown should give it two thumbs up. 75,000 first printing; major ad/promo. (July)
Folks like John Landis, Michael Cimino, and Kevin Costner may go into hiding upon release of this first novel about the making of a disastrously expensive and wretchedly overhyped movie. First printing: 100,000 copies.
Following on the heels of mostly successful film adaptations of his novels and based loosely on the mostly unsuccessful "Trick or Treat" (1976) starring Bianca Jagger, Connolly takes a direct literary stab at Hollywood in this new book. His plot merges a murder mystery, several love affairs, and the big business of moviemaking in an engaging and darkly humorous fashion. Such black comedy exhibited by oversexed, overly arrogant movie stars--and the Hollywood movie industry itself--is akin to Robert Altman's large-scale satire in "The Player" and "Pret-a-Porter". Connolly's stop-start time frame is fairly innovative: it begins in the present, stops at the murders, and starts forward from a moment in the past, arriving back at the original point in time. The time structure is reminiscent of the much touted "Pulp Fiction". Connolly deserves credit for dropping the strictly linear time frame prevalent in Hollywood film screenplays and still ingrained in popular fiction. Industry types are sure to recognize themselves, and readers will certainly delight in the roller-coaster ride of action-packed, comic and tragic events in this interesting novel.