When Hollywood Had a King: The Reign of Lew Wasserman, Who Leveraged Talent into Power and Influence
- Title: When Hollywood Had a King: The Reign of Lew Wasserman, Who Leveraged Talent into Power and Influence
- Author: Connie Bruck
- ISBN: 9780812972177
- Page: 412
- Format: Paperback
In When Hollywood Had a King, the distinguished journalist Connie Bruck tells the sweeping story of MCA and its brilliant leader, a man who transformed the entertainment industry businessman, politician, tactician, and visionary Lew Wasserman The Music Corporation of America was founded in Chicago in 1924 by Dr Jules Stein, an ophthalmologist with a gift for booking banIn When Hollywood Had a King, the distinguished journalist Connie Bruck tells the sweeping story of MCA and its brilliant leader, a man who transformed the entertainment industry businessman, politician, tactician, and visionary Lew Wasserman The Music Corporation of America was founded in Chicago in 1924 by Dr Jules Stein, an ophthalmologist with a gift for booking bands Twelve years later, Stein moved his operations west to Beverly Hills and hired Lew Wasserman From his meager beginnings as a movie theater usher in Cleveland, Wasserman ultimately ascended to the post of president of MCA, and the company became the most powerful force in Hollywood, regarded with a mixture of fear and awe In his signature black suit and black knit tie, Was serman took Hollywood by storm He shifted the balance of power from the studios which had seven year contractual strangleholds on the stars to the talent, who became profit partners When an antitrust suit forced MCA s evolution from talent agency to film and television production company, it was Wasserman who parlayed the control of a wide variety of entertainment and media products into a new type of Hollywood power base There was only Washington left to conquer, and conquer it Wasserman did, quietly brokering alliances with Democratic and Republican administrations alike That Wasserman s reach extended from the underworld to the White House only added to his mystique Among his friends were Teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa, mob lawyer Sidney Korshak, and gangster Moe Dalitz along with Presidents Johnson, Clinton, and especially Reagan, who enjoyed a particularly close and mutually beneficial relationship with Wasserman He was equally intimate with Hollywood royalty, from Bette Davis and Jimmy Stewart to Steven Spielberg, who began his career at MCA and once described Wasserman s eyeglasses as looking like two giant movie screens.The history of MCA is really the history of a revolution Lew Wasserman ushered in the Hollywood we know today He is the link between the old school moguls with their ironclad studio contracts and the new industry defined by multimedia conglomerates, power agents, multimillionaire actors, and profit sharing In the hands of Connie Bruck, the story of Lew Wasserman s rise to power takes on an almost Shakespearean scope When Hollywood Had a King reveals the industry s greatest untold story how a stealthy, enterprising power broker became, for a time, Tinseltown s absolute monarch.From the Hardcover edition.
Recent Comments "When Hollywood Had a King: The Reign of Lew Wasserman, Who Leveraged Talent into Power and Influence"
I heard so many good things about this book but it just isn't for me.
My mother once said that a handful of men or people run the world. After reading this book…I have proof! Lew Wasserman sure did in his time! He even made a President – Ronald Reagan. Lew aligned himself with the Mob, Hollywood (his reinvented version away from the moguls) and Washington.Shrewd, never wrote anything done, stayed out of the public eye and was a total shark in business. Not someone I would ever wanted to know. And apparently he didn’t have friends. Although his friendship wit [...]
A fascinating look at the only Hollywood executive who could claim to have wielded power equal to that of the early moguls -- Mayer, Schenck, Zukor, Thalberg, Warner, etc. The problem with the book is its subject. Both Wasserman and his mentor, Jules Stein, were ice-cold, incredibly opaque, immensely secretive (especially about their mob ties, which are detailed in Gus Russo's blistering SUPERMOB). Here's how cold Stein was: his daughter, Jean, wanted desperately an antique music box on his desk [...]
I waited a long time to read this, and thoroughly enjoyed it. There are other Wasserman bios, but I'm pretty confident this is the best. The prose feels measured and authoritative. As I remarked to a friend, it's too bad The Mob hasn't opened its archives, yet. Then Bruck wd have had all the info at hand. Nick Tosches has his own, mesmerizing take on Sidney Korshak & Co but, well, props to Bruck for taking a slightly straighter approach. No endnotes or footnotes, and I must say: I'm envious. [...]
Lew Wasserman may have been the "King of Hollywood" in terms of business deals, but there is nothing in this book about filmmaking or the people who made movies during his career. People like Bette Davis, Jimmy Stewart, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg are only briefly mentioned.
I'm not sure if I would recommend this book to people who aren't interested in the wheelings and dealings of Hollywood. I found it to be incredibly thorough and amazing. Lew Wasserman essentially ran Hollywood for many years and this is his biography.
We learn from history.
A great book about the King of Hollywood, Lew Wasserman. He parlayed a talent agency (MCA) into a conglomerate (Universal), amassing tremendous power along the way. An SOB, but a talented one!
An exceptionally interesting and unusual life turned into an average book.
For those who are interested in crushing it in the entertainment world, it's worth the read!
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