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View and Review

Book CoverThis review is by John Burroughs for Midwest Book Review and reposted below:

Hollywood or Bust: Movie Stars Dish on Following Their Dreams, Making It Big, and Surviving in Tinseltown collects more than 500 quotes, wisecracks, tell-it-like-it-is tips, and words of wisdom from popular stars and directors, including Ben Affleck to Jackie Chan, George Clooney, Carole Burnett, and many more. Grouped by subject, these vignettes offer a condensed glimpse of the trials and tribulations of the showbiz industry, and are just plain fun for a quick browse anytime. Hollywood or Bust also makes an excellent gift book for anyone who loves TV and movies! “I’d say the cut-off point for leading ladies today is thirty-five to forty whereas half the men in Hollywood get their start then. It’s a terrible double standard.” -Kathleen Turner, actress

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To view the original on the Midwest Book Review Bookwatch – August 2013, scroll down seven categories to Burroughs’ Bookshelf.

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Hear Ye Hear Ye: Talking About the Stars

Book CoverYesterday afternoon I had the pleasure of chatting with Betty Jo Tucker, movie critic extraordinaire and the editor/lead critic of ReelTalk Movie Reviews, and her co-host James Colt Harrison, also an author of thousands of reviews and articles about Hollywood, on Betty Jo’s radio program “Movie Addict Headquarters.”

My book Hollywood or Bust was the central point of our conversation, and I was peppered with lots of questions.  Where did the idea come from?  What was the biggest challenge in writing the book?  How did you decide on the themes in the book?  What are your favorite quotes in the book?

Oh, there are so many.  I like the first quote in the book from Hilary Swank: “I’m just a girl from a trailer park who had a dream.”  I think that sets the tone of the book because Hollywood and the movies, even life itself, are all about dreams.

On the loss of privacy that comes with fame, I like Jennifer Aniston’s quote: “When someone follows you all the way to the shop and watches you buy a roll of toilet paper, you know your life has changed.”  The lesson here is to be careful for what you wish.

Betty Jo had her favorite quotes, too.  She pointed out how touched she was by Charlie Chaplin saying, “I was loved by crowds, but I didn’t have a single close friend. I felt like the loneliest man alive,” and she played a few minutes of music Chaplin had composed for Modern Times.  Afterwards she noted, “There he is making everyone else laugh, but he has such feeling.”  And, then we moved on to more amusing topics.

James shared a story relating a chance meeting between Clark Gable and William Faulkner on the MGM lot where they were both working in the 1930s.  Clark Gable knew who William Faulkner was, but Faulkner couldn’t return the compliment.  Ah, writers.  What would the movies be without them?

As screenwriter Joe Eszterhas noted: “Screenplays are a bitch to write.  One man wrote War and Peace.  Thirty-five screenwriters wrote The Flintstones.” Ah, Hollywood.

© 2013 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved

Here’s the link for your listening pleasure:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/movieaddictheadquarters/2013/07/30/hollywood-or-bust

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Thank you, Betty Jo Tucker

Betty Jo Tucker is a movie critic extraordinaire, currently serving as editor/lead critic of ReelTalk Movie Reviews and hosting “Movie Addict Headquarters” on BlogTalkRadio. An author herself of Confessions of a Movie Addict and Susan Saradon: A True Maverick, she took time out of her busy schedule to review Hollywood or Bust.  Her review, posted on authorsden.com, is reposted below.

 Hollywood or Bust Book Review

By Betty Jo Tucker

Posted: Friday, July 19, 2013

Happiness for movie fans like me is reading “Hollywood or Bust” by Susan Marg! I love all the quips, quotes, and off-the-cuff remarks from some of my favorite actors and actresses that are included in this fascinating anthology. So, of course, I found Marg’s revealing, star-studded book impossible to put down once I started it.

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As someone who has had a longstanding love affair with the cinema for over fifty years, I was surprised to find so many delicious surprises in Hollywood or Bust. For example, why did Mel Brooks start out as a drummer? What did Sandra Bullock learn from directing a film? How does Harrison Ford define a movie star? What did Elizabeth Taylor have in common with the critics?  Why did Michael Caine want to win an Oscar?  And that’s just the tip of the show-biz iceberg.

The complete title of this entertaining read is Hollywood or Bust: Movie Stars Dish on Following their Dreams, Making It Big, and Surviving in Tinseltown.And “dish” they do – from the price they pay for stardom and what they think about acting as a career to their feelings about each other as well as about directors, writers, studio executives, agents, and the Oscar. According to Marg, their observations “are caustic, critical and cynical on the one hand — but they are also eye opening, amusing, inspiring, and in some cases, even endearing.” Most of all — to me — they are extremely readable.

Marg calls herself a writer, a reader, a television watcher, a moviegoer, a theater attendee, and a museum visitor. She is also the author of Las Vegas Weddings: A Brief History, Celebrity Gossip, Everything Elvis and the Complete Chapel Guide, published by Harper Collins.

Hollywood or Bust is published by Cowgirl Jane Press, and here’s the link to the book’s website: www.HollywoodOrBustTheBook.com.

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It’s Summertime. Read a Book.

Photo by: Vicki Ashton

Photo by: Vicki Ashton

Looking for a good book to read?  Sometimes one’s hard to find.

Nothing in the reviews in the New York Times and the New Yorker jumps out at you.  Scouring your local newspaper, if you still take a local newspaper, hasn’t yielded just the right result.  And you don’t trust the reviews in People magazine.

So check out what “the people” have to say.

In its own words, “Goodreads is a free website for book lovers. Imagine it as a large library that you can wander through and see everyone’s bookshelves, their reviews, and their ratings.”  With eighteen million members it must be doing something right.  And all those members have posted twenty-four million reviews and counting.

Books are organized by category, such as art, biography, comedy, history, and mystery.  Simply skim the recommendations that are tailored to your interests.

Alternatively, peruse ”Recent Updates From the Community” on the home page. There should be something that appeals to you.

Did you miss the Hunger Games craze?  Well, a reader gives the first book in the series by Suzanne Collins five stars, but no synopsis. There’s always Amazon to find out what it’s all about.

Do you like the classics?  One reader recommends the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird.  I recommend seeing the movie starring Gregory Peck.

Want to be frightened into action?  Books by both Stephen King and Dean Kootz are mentioned.  The Shining was described as “the scariest book ever.”   But who hasn’t seen the movie?

Does it sound like I’m mocking the efforts of these critics? I’m not.  Really.

On a recent search I was reminded that I have been intending to read Abraham Verghese’s 2009 novel Cutting the Stone.  It’s about conjoined twins separated at birth who follow in their father’s path to become doctors.  I added it to my “want to read” list.

And I’ve devoured many of Barbara Kingsolver’s books, but I missed The Poisonwood Bible.  It, too, now resides on my list.

Someone somewhere has written just the book for which you’re looking, and someone on Goodreads has written a review about it.

© 2013 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved

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P.S. I also joined the program as a Goodreads author to promote my book Hollywood or Bust.  Type in my name.  Sign up for the free giveaway (winners are picked randomly at the end of July).  Write a review, if that’s your thing.  Thank you.

 

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News Flash and Splash

Book CoverCowgirl Jane Press

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JUST ANNOUNCED:

BEACH BOOK FESTIVAL AWARDS HOLLYWOOD OR BUST.

The 2013 Beach Book Festival announced winners on June 10.  Hollywood or BustMovie Stars Dish on Following their Dreams, Making it Big, and Surviving in Tinseltown placed first in the category Compilations/Anthologies.

Comprised of over five hundred quips, quotes, and off-the-cuff remarks from actors, directors, writers, and others involved in the business, Hollywood or Bust conveys what insiders think about themselves, their lives, their fame, their careers, each other, and the town itself. Even among those who have made it opinions vary as to whether or not the road trip down the yellow brick road to fame and fortune is worth the heartache and hard work.

Author Susan Marg is thrilled with the award.  “The Beach Book Festival seemed like a natural competition for my book.  Hollywood or Bust is a fun, summer read, filled with wit and whimsy.”  She further adds, “I won’t be going to the rewards ceremony, however, as it takes place in New York.”

Hollywood or Bust, ISBN 978-0-578-11882-6, is a 182-page paperback book consisting of seven chapters and twenty original photographs.  Topics cover dreams of success to attending the Oscars.  It lists for $14.95.

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Susan Marg is the author of Las Vegas Weddings: A Brief History, Celebrity Gossip, Everything Elvis, and the Complete Chapel Guide, published by HarperCollins.  Since she has moved her field of focus from the City of Lights to the City of Angels, her interest in popular culture has only intensified.

 

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80 Years Ago in Pop Culture: Drive In and Watch a Movie

Richard Hollingshead opened the first outdoor movie theater in Camden, New Jersey on June 6 eighty years ago. 1933 was the height of the Great Depression, when 25% of the U.S. population was unemployed.  A can of Campbell soup cost ten cents.  So did a gallon of gasoline.SnackBarAd

Movie tickets cost fifty-one cents.  Hollingshead charged a quarter a car plus a quarter per person, with no group paying more than a dollar.  So that those in the back had as good a view as those in front, he graded the lot at a five percent incline.

Hollingshead called his business Park-in Theaters.  He advertised as entertainment for the whole family, “regardless of how noisy the children are,” and no one had to leave their car unless they had a yen for popcorn and a Coke.  The concept caught on.

By 1946 there were three hundred drive-ins across the country.  By 1957 there were six thousand with a weekly audience of thirty-five million.  The growth paralleled the movement to suburbia, the increase in car ownership, and a shortage of baby sitters.

The smallest theaters accommodated fifty automobiles.  One of the largest, the All-Weather Drive-In Theater in Copiague, New York, had room for 2,500 cars.  It also offered an amusement park for frisky kids, a cafeteria serving hot dogs and pizza for randy teenagers, and an indoor, air-conditioned theater for anyone seeking relief on a hot summer night.  Needless to say, no one was ever bored, went hungry, or wilted from the humidity.

Decades later drive-ins have pretty much gone the way of landline telephones, done in by technology. First color televisions, followed by video players and DVDs, captured the audience’s attention.  Today theater owners find it too expensive to switch to digital equipment for a shrinking number of viewers who would rather stay home and pop Orville Redenbacher in the microwave than go out.

But, for anyone craving a trip down memory lane, some drive-ins are still around, many with multiple screens.  Coast to coast there’s the Randall Drive-in In Bethel, Maine and the Mayfield Road in Chardon, Ohio.  At the South Bay Theater near San Diego, Iron Man 3, Fast & Furious 6, and The Hangover Part 3 are playing.  Grown Ups 2 is coming soon!

For an Ozoner, that’s anyone who enjoys watching a movie under the stars, it’s going to be a great summer.

© 2013 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved

And a Google doodle: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TV7ppqSzfuY

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Pop Quiz #1: They Said What?

Book CoverLet’s see how well you know your movie stars past and present.  Identify the speaker of the quotes below.  It’s multiple choice – how hard can it be?

Answers can be found in Hollywood or Bust: Movie Stars Dish on Following their Dreams, Making it Big, and Surviving in Tinseltown (the page number on which the quote can be found follows the quote) or on my Hollywood or Bust website.

Let me know how you did.

1. I don’t use any particular method.  I’m from the let’s pretend school of acting. (page 59)

A. Harrison Ford

B. Robert Pattinson

C. William Shatner

D. Paris Hilton

E. Hugh Grant

2. I’ve always had confidence.  Before I was famous, that confidence got me into trouble.  After I got famous, it just got me into more trouble.  (page 43)

A. Don Johnson

B. Sean Penn

C. Bruce Willis

D. Clark Gable

E. Eddie Murphy

3. The secret of having a personal life is not answering too many questions about it.  (page 38)

A. Lindsay Lohan

B. Rock Hudson

C. Bill Clinton

D. Joan Collins

E. Barbra Streisand

4. I am not a demon.  I am a lizard, a shark, a heat-seeking panther.  I want to be Bob Denver on acid playing the accordion. (page 119)

A. Charlie Sheen

B. Dennis Hopper

C. Quentin Tarantino

D. Will Smith

E. Nicolas Cage

5. I’m very fond of doing movies where men fight over me. (page 64)

A. Angelica Huston

B. Elizabeth Taylor

C. Kerry Washington

D. Megan Fox

E. Marlene Dietrich

6. The only thing I have a problem with is being labeled. (page 91)

A. Elvis Presley

B. Johnny Depp

C. Peter Dinklage

D. Bela Lugosi

E. Esther Williams

7. I want to do something gritty, something real funny, a real smelly part. (page 83)

A. Gwyneth Paltrow

B. Meryl Streep

C. Joan Crawford

D. Hugh Grant

E. Meg Ryan

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Hollywood or Bust: The Movie

Illustration by: Viktor Hertz

Illustration by: Viktor Hertz

Paramount’s 1956 Hollywood or Bust is a swingin’ musical travelogue starring Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis in their last movie together.

It begins in New York City where fanatical movie fan Malcolm Smith, Lewis’s character, wins a hot red convertible that he plans to drive to Hollywood to meet actress Anita Ekberg, playing herself, on whom he has the biggest crush.

Dean Martin plays inveterate gambler Steve Wiley, wily as a fox, who convinces Malcolm that he, too, won, although he had stacked the lottery and plans to sell the car to pay his gambling debts.   Malcolm, being a trusting sort, as well as not knowing how to drive, lets Steve take the wheel, and they’re over the bridge and out of the city with Malcolm’s Great Dane, Mr. Bascomb, in the back seat.

“Sound the trumpets strike the cymbals

Boys from Bonwits and girls from Gimbels

Shaking off that old Manhattan dust

To get to Hollywood or bust.”

(From the song “Hollywood or Bust”.)

Traveling along two-lane back roads the pair pass red farmhouses, white picket fences, covered bridges, full service gas stations, golden pastures, and girls, girls, girls, riding a hay wagon, fishing from a rowboat, swimming in a pond, all enjoying the fresh air.

“Oh, there’ nothing as gay as a day in the country…

It’s quite a delightful surprise for a couple of traveling guys.”

(From the song “A Day in the Country”.)

Before reaching Chicago troubles abound.  Malcolm and Steve run out of gas, get held up by a hitchhiker, and meet up with a showgirl, Terry Roberts played by Pat Crowley, on her way to Vegas.  The duo becomes a singing trio plus dog.

“When you cross the Mississippi

Cross the Mississippi

You’re in the wild and wooly west.”

(From the song “The Wild and Wooly West”.)

The three continue to croon, as they pass through “old” Missouri, Oklahoma, and the state of Texas, “the largest in the union”. The song takes them all the way to Las Vegas, where they pass the Sands (where Martin and Lewis are performing), the Algiers, the Thunderbird, the Desert Inn, and El Rancho Vegas, among other luxurious desert resorts and casinos.

There are more sights to see and songs to sing once the group arrives in Hollywood.

“It looks like love

It could be love

But if it’s not it’s so darn wonderful it should be love.”

(From the song “It Looks Like Love”.)

The highlight takes place at Paramount Studios where Steve proposes to Terry during her audition for a part in the first Elvis Presley movie, and Anita decides to cast Mr. Bascomb in her next movie “The Lady and the Great Dane.”  In the grand finale, both couples plus dog walk down the red carpet at its premiere at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.

It doesn’t get any more Hollywood, except for the songs:

“Land of stardust and land of glamour

Vistavision and cinerama

Everyone considers it a must

To get to Hollywood or bust.”

(From the song “Hollywood or Bust”.)

And that’s why I named my book Hollywood or Bust.  Check it out: HollywoodOrBustTheBook.comOr go straight to Amazon.

© 2013 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved

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Boop-Boop-E-Doop-Oop!

Betty Boop, oh, what a doll - 2012.  Photo by: Susan Marg

Betty Boop, oh, what a doll – 2012. Photo by: Susan Marg

Betty Boop had her comeback twenty-five years ago in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the Oscar-winning live-action and animation comedy in which humans and toons mix it up.

Betty’s role was small, but effective.  She runs into Eddie Valiant, a private eye she knows, played by Bob Hoskins, in a Cotton Club-like nightclub where she’s working as a cigarette girl.

“Long time no see,” she says to him.

“What are you doing here?” he wants to know.

“Works been kinda slow since cartoons went to color,” she replies with a wiggle, “But I still got it, Eddie, boop-boop-e-doop.”

“Yeah. You still got it,” he says with a wistful smile.

Yeah, she’s still got it.  She’s in black and white, just “pen and ink / she can win you with a wink,” as in her cartoons from the thirties.

She’s wearing a strapless, backless dress that exaggerates her hourglass figure.  It’s two inches shorter than her garter belt that sits high on her thigh. Her long eyelashes frame her large expressive eyes, which she uses to great effect.

Everyone loved Betty, sometimes a little too much.  But no worries. The “Poleece” rescued her when her boss made unwarranted advances. The Seven Dwarfs saved her when the Evil Queen tried to destroy her. The animals circled around to protect her when the old man in the mountain chased her up a tree.

Regardless of the situation there was always humor.  One late night her friend Bimbo came calling.

I can’t open the door now,” Betty informed him.  “I’m in my nightie.”

All right,” he replied, “I’ll wait ’til you take it off.”

In 1934 the Production Code Administration was established with authority to enforce the “Don’ts and Be Careful” guidelines prohibiting licentious or suggestive behavior.  This was a game-changer, and Betty was forced to dress as a conservative housewife.  But the music played on.

Such greats as Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, Don Redman, and Rubinoff and their orchestras recorded the sound tracks for the cartoons, making an appearance with their orchestras during the opening credits.  No matter where Betty was – at home, down the block, or around the world  – or whom she was with, she sang and danced.

Betty Boop’s popularity declined through the decade, and she retired in 1939.  Jessica Rabbit, voiced by Kathleen Turner, became the sexiest animated film star on the big screen. As for her character, she proclaimed, “I’m not bad. I’m just drawn that way.”

The same could be said of Betty.

© 2013 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved

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Marilyn Monroe Revisited

One hundred years ago on August 5, the International Herald Tribuneran the following article:

Marilyn and Shrek on Hollywood Boulevard. Photo by: Susan Marg

“A Call for Modest Dressing”

NEW YORK — An appeal is addressed by Miss G. Trenholm, the settlement worker, to fashionable women to inaugurate an era of modest dressing. Miss Trenholm declares that the greatest problem confronting the United States is the extravagance, inefficiency, lack of modesty, and selfishness of its women and young girls. Working girls, she says, slavishly imitate the styles of dress set by their fashionable sisters. She said there is quite a “subtle poisoning of all our femininity, and it is not working upward from poverty into prosperity, but downward from prosperity into poverty.”

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Values change.  Styles change.  And life in these United States changes.

Fifty years later, also on August 5, The International Herald Tribune ran the following article:

Marilyn Monroe Dies”

HOLLYWOOD — Actress Marilyn Monroe, sex symbol of her generation, was found dead early today [Aug. 5], her nude body lying face down on her bed and her hand clutching a telephone. Police said Miss Monroe, 36, took an overdose of barbiturates. A bottle which contained 40 to 50 sleeping pills was found empty by her bed when police arrived.

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This past August on the same date, 20th Century Fox, which had employed Monroe for most of her career, released a seven-disc Blu-Ray boxed set with five remastered Fox titles in which she starred, including Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, How to Marry a Millionaire, River of No Return, There’s No Business Like Show Business, as well as Some Like It Hot and The Misfits from United Artists.  The New York Times described the image and sound quality as “simply superb.”

Now recognized as much as being a fashion icon for her form-fitting, curve-enhancing attire, platinum blonde hair, and bright red lipstick as for her star turns on the big screen, Marilyn Monroe lives on.

Some things never change.

© 2012 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved