For decades, hidden from the public eye, William Morris agents made the deals that determined the fate of stars, studios, and networks alike. Mae West, Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, Danny Thomas, Steve McQueen--the Morris Agency sold talent to anyone in the market for it, from the Hollywood studios to the mobsters who ran Vegas to the Madison Avenue admen who controlled television. While the clients took the spotlight, the agency operated behind the scenes, providing the grease that made show business what it's become.
The story begins more than a century ago, when a fiery young immigrant named William Morris opened a vaudeville-booking office on New York's Fourteenth Street and went up against the trust that ruled the leading entertainment medium of the day. Led after Morris's death by the legendary Abe Lastfogel, a cherubic little man who treated agents and clients alike as family, the firm transformed the agent's image from garish flesh-peddler to smooth-talking professional. But when Lastfogel's successor brutally sacrificed his best friend--the man who'd brought Barry Diller and Michael Ovitz out of the mail room--William Morris gave birth to its own nemesis: Ovitz's new firm, CAA. Throughout the '80s and '90s, as the Morris Agency made, and lost, such stars as Mel Gibson, Julia Roberts, Kevin Costner and Tom Hanks, Ovitz's power grew inexorably as Morris's waned. Lulled by the phenomenal success of Bill Cosby and the upward spiral of the Beverly Hills real estate market, Morris's board failed to act as death and defection thinned its ranks. Finally, with its flagship motion-picture department on the brink of collapse, the board was faced with the stark reality of having to buy its way back into the business it had once owned.
©1995 Frank Rose (P)2013 Frank Rose
”Reading The Agency is like sitting in on a long, gossipy afternoon at the Hillcrest Country Club, feasting on a collection of war tales from the front lines. But The Agency is more than a titillating string of bold-face names. . . . Rose uses the saga of the Morris Agency's rise and fall as a prism through which to examine the constantly evolving nature of show business itself.” (Los Angeles Times Book Review)
”A cram course on the modern entertainment business as seen not from the customary perspective of the talent, but from the point of view of the humble apparatchiks who doggedlyvtried to prevent the lunatics from wrecking their asylum.” (Peter Bart, New York Times Book Review)
“Reveals the shark tank at its most lethal and hilarious." (San Francisco Chronicle)
”A darker side of show biz than one sees on Entertainment Tonight.” (USA Today)
A fascinating insight into the world of Hollywood agents. Great for anyone in the industry. However, the narrator speaks with a monotone that makes him sound like Siri, and it's very annoying. Also he mispronounces many famous Hollywood names, and obviously he doesn't know anything about the story he's narrating. still, worth a listen if you're in the industry.
Yes, the subject material is fascinating.
It was a broad overview of the William Morris Agency and too many characters to name just one.
The reader has all the inflection of a dial tone. It was difficult to concentrate on the story because he read so poorly. I can't believe a book with such extraordinary and interesting subject matter was given to someone with virtually no talent. His diction was fine, but he had zero personality and one had to make a conscious effort to dismiss his lackluster ability. What were they thinking? His reading undermines this fascinating book.
How to read a book like a junior high school C-student.
This book combined everything I want in an audio book: History, Hollywood, Business lessons, and a delivery by Marlin May so good it kept pace perfectly with Frank Rose's brilliant writing. I just wish this book went on forever.
Elvis, Sinatra, Monroe. There were so many behind the scenes Hollywood tales about people that have impacted us, some famous, and many of whom we've never heard. Rose brilliantly weaves each individual person's story into the largest narrative of the Agency that has made such an impact for over a century. And while Rose has us in the palm of his hand with masterful storytelling, Marlin May sinks his teeth into every line and delivers us into a world of wonder and mystique of days past in a world that no longer exists. Together, they paint the picture of Hollywood's evolution through the lens of the William Morris Agency to perfection.
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