In a 45-year career as an agent, producer, studio head and personal manager, Brillstein may have swum with the Hollywood sharks, but he doesn't consider himself one. While Brillstein understandably brims with pride when recounting how he built his impressive stable of clients--including Muppets creator Jim Henson and Saturday Night Live's John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Dan Aykroyd and Lorne Michaels--he is often self-deprecating in this engaging memoir. With a bemused tone similar to Robert Evans's in The Kid Stays in the Picture, Brillstein 'fesses up to various sins: getting into the business to meet women, booking business for a dead client early in his career at the William Morris Agency, and being the New York Jew responsible for launching the ultimate in TV cornpone: Hee-Haw. But there are glimpses of pathos, too: in his admissions of ambivalence about having sold his share of Brillstein-Grey Entertainment to partner Brad Grey; in his memories of a famous comedian uncle who torpedoed his own career, of a mother who seldom got out of bed and Brillstein's own succession of wives; and in his account of the tragic early deaths of Henson and Belushi. Perhaps most interesting to Hollywood insiders and media junkies will be Brillstein's assessment of the TV biz (he suggests doing away with pilots and having the guts to commit to shows) and his rivalry with CAA co-founder Mike Ovitz, a former friend. "When a bully is left on his own, he gets stupid," writes Brillstein, proving that even if he's not exactly a shark, he still has bite. (Nov.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Agent, producer, studio head, personnel manager--Brillstein has done it all in his 45-year Hollywood career. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Bernie Brillstein has been the behind-the-scenes deal maker and hand-holder for such comic talents as John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Jim Henson, Gilda Radner, Lorne Michaels, and Martin Short...The book cements Brillstein's reputation as one of Hollywood's few remaining old-school showmen and raconteurs.
In ''Where Did I Go Right?'' Bernie
Brillstein says he has been likened to
both a ''fat Kenny Rogers'' and Santa
Claus. A talent manager and old-time
show-business character, Brillstein is
indeed a big man, and his addictively
candid and funny memoir is filled with big
loves and big hates.
The New York Times Book Review
Brutal honesty from a Hollywood insider. Now, that's something to celebrate. Brillstein's memoir, an exercise in narcissism, is filled with clichés, abounds in shameless name-dropping, and dishes dirt sanctimoniouslybut it is nonetheless delightful. The longtime movie-star manager, whose clients over the years included Jim Henson, Jim Belushi, and most of the comics associated with the heyday of Saturday Night Live, writes this tell-all from the perspective of retirement. Interspersed with his history are wonderfully quirky asides from todaymoody ruminations on being too old and unhip to compete in the present market. Brillstein's company is currently run by his protégé, Brad Grey, and it handles most of the top comic talent in the country. Brillstein's account of how he got to that zenith is a haphazard tale that is often hilarious. He was a fat kid from a crazy New York Jewish family connected to the vaudeville world. He started in the mail room at the William Morris agency and worked his way up, ever so slowly, until he hit the big time in the 1970s. As much as he is overblown about his own talents as a go-getter, he is self-deprecating about his social skills and weakness for women and gambling. The tone is colloquial, rife with curse words, and often prone to rants about those who Brillstein thinks have wronged him, such as agent Mike Ovitz. Brillstein's narrative is at its most ineffective when he tries to rationalize how he handled Belushi's drug problem. It takes a lot of hemming and hawing to come to the conclusion that he probably couldn't have done anything to prevent the man's death. The author is at his best when describing the loving andsupportive relationship he had with Henson. Brillstein rightly stops short of taking credit for anything his clients did while under his protection, but any man who made it possible for Kermit to come to life has got to be worth some attention. (16 pages photos)