As wild and sexy and over the top as the decade it brings to life, author, William Stadiem, tells the inside story of Hollywood producers in the 80s.
From hits like Beverly Hills Cop, Top Gun and Batman to flops like Heaven's Gate, Howard the Duck and Leonard Part 6, Hollywood was never more excessive than it was in the 1980s. In this, the Moneywood era, the purse strings were not controlled by reasonably consenting adults but by pop culture cowboys who couldn't balance their own checkbooks. What they could do was sweet talk the talent, seduce the starlets, snowball the Japanese and slither out of Dodge when the low grosses trickled in. Their out of control lifestyles and know-nothing, raging narcissistic personalities make the original brutal studio heads like Sam Goldwyn and Jack Warner seem like Oxford dons. Yet, for all their flops, these Scoundrels of Spago turned Hollywood into a Big Business that was catnip to Wall Street. They were The Producers, and they were way beyond anything Mel Brooks could dream up.
The Moneywood cast of characters includes:
-Simpson and Bruckheimer; Guber and Peters; Eisner/Katzenberg/Ovitz: An unusual fresh take on the usual subjects.
-Ray Stark, the wizard of Holmby Hills, the most powerful producer of the 80s.
-Mario Kassar and Andy Vajna, the Rambo boys, who went from making wigs to making blockbusters.
-Menahem Golan-Yoram Globus, the Israeli schlockmeisters who proved that every star had a price.
-David Begelman, the embezzler, gambler and sex addict who was rewarded for his sins by getting to run both Columbia and MGM.
-Roland Betts, the aristocratic Silver Screen Partners founder and former Yale frat-mate of George W. Bush who was a master at playing the Reagan White House card.
-Giancarlo Parretti, the Italian cannery worker who bought MGM, with a little help from his (Sicilian) friends.
-David Puttnam The high-toned English advertising whiz who was supposed to raise the Hollywood bar, but ended up barred from Hollywood.
Moneywood is the ultimate expose of the real hit men of Hollywood's go-go decade.
Stadiem, a screenwriter and celebrity biographer, provides an exhaustive insider account of the power players of 1980s Hollywood who brought Rambo, Flashdance, and Beverly Hills Cop to the big screen. It was a new age: the studio system and the old guard (Richard Zanuck, Alan Ladd Jr., and Robert Evans) were out in favor of the money men (Eisner, Ovitz, Katzenberg, and Bruckheimer). With Reagan, an entertainer turned world leader in the White House, the decade saw the stock market triple and the cost of making films, credited to Ovitz, rise 400% between 1977 and 1985. "Movies," Stadiem argues, "became the country's new religion, where the Cineplex overwhelmed the church." Hollywood behind the scenes was dominated almost exclusively by white Jewish men, although there were a few notable exceptions such as the infamous Jon Peters, who got his start cutting hair, dated Barbra Streisand, and parlayed that invaluable connection into briefly becoming a key figure at Columbia. There were few opportunities for minorities or women and even the female go-getters who had a little power, like Columbia's Dawn Steel or Fox studio head Sherry Lansing, lacked the influence and authority to greenlight a movie. A little more than a decade later, however, virtually none of the men who had shaped the new Tinsel Town were still on the scene. Stadiem captures this fleeting sentiment that all that glitters may be gold, but not for long.