Books about bright young women learning the ropes of glamorous careers under corrosively evil bosses are catnip to a generation of readers, so this West Coast version of The Devil Wears Prada fills a niche, with brio. Elizabeth Miller gives up an idealistic job as a Washington senator's aide to join the Agency, a super-powerful Hollywood outfit that represents stars, producers and directors. The young L.A. newcomer may not be as clearheaded and full of self-knowledge as she's intended to be (she does jump topless into the agency head's pool with a lecherous producer), but she's a paragon of virtue compared to her boss, Scott Wagner, who is loutish, sex-obsessed, terminally addicted to any abusable substance, lazy and overbearing. Despite her misgivings and scads of unjustified abuse, Elizabeth throws herself into Xeroxing and party planning ("Dancers from Crazy Girls on La Brea. Though only small-nippled girls") and is rewarded by brushes with a parade of A-list personalities (Cameron, Jennifer, George, Harvey). The insider peeks at Tinseltown are more engrossing than the plot, but a hot script and backroom Agency dealings keep the pages turning. Contrivances abound Elizabeth keeps meeting key figures at just the right moment and the jokes often fall flat. The book undoes itself by offering as chapter headings some of the great dialogue from old movies ("What's the going price on integrity this week?"), and there's simply no comparison between what those old scriptwriters and these joint authors offer up. Still, this is a fast, fun, trashy read. 10-city author tour. (May) Forecast: Naylor (Dog Handling, etc.) and Hare both have plenty of Hollywood cred. Hare worked in development on Jerry Maguire and As Good As It Gets, and the two are authors of a screenplay, The Accidental Husband, which will star Uma Thurman. Their name-dropping and glam lifestyle reporting should snag plenty of browsers. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Hollywood assistant gets abused by boss, is shocked at the industry's mendacity, and other un-amazing tales. For no better reason than to give her a supposedly serious grounding in the real world-all the better to make her gasp in true fish-out-of-water fashion-heroine Elizabeth Miller starts off here as a newly-out-of-work congressional assistant who takes a position as second assistant at a Hollywood talent agency called, of course, The Agency. Her immediate boss, Scott, is an abusive, drug-crazed, ADD-addled manchild, while the agency's president, Daniel, is a Machiavellian power-monger who makes Scott look good by comparison. Fortunately for Elizabeth, Lara-Scott's first assistant-takes an immediate and oddly unmotivated shine to her and starts mentoring with a vengeance. Elizabeth's job doesn't seem to involve much besides fetching coffees and making irate callers believe that Scott is in a meeting at Dreamworks. This is good, because it leaves a lot of time for her to work on her first producing gig-the cute owner of the coffee place is also a budding screenwriter/director who for some reason thinks fresh-off-the-bus Elizabeth knows something about the business. None of this is even remotely engaging. Hollywood veterans Naylor (Dog Handling, 2002, not reviewed; etc.) and first-timer Hare have managed to screw up the first rule of the roman a clef: tell the reader something they don't know. This outing is so completely square that it spends a paragraph describing what the Sundance film festival is. Elizabeth's oft-stated dream of making a film of Crime and Punishment is laughable as well, especially in the absence of any evidence that she's read it. Perhaps the true mark of theHollywood insider, though, is the fact that the book is more interested in name-brand clothing than film: the drooly fashion-gazing quickly becomes off-putting. We know, well before the smug conclusion, that we're a long way from Budd Schulberg. Agent: Emma Parry/Fletcher & Parry
"[A] high-spirited sprint." —The New York Times Book Review
"[A] wicked romp." —US Weekly
"Make sure it is at the top of your beach bag." —Chicago Tribune