x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Book review: the rise and ruination of a Hollywood talent agent

In his Hollywood expose American Dream Machine, Matthew Specktor explores the nasty world of talent agents.

American Dream Machine
Matthew Specktor
Little, Brown

American Dream Machine is a tale that, if one wasn't aware that it was fiction, could well be a real-life expose of the dark side of Hollywood.

Its central character is Beau Rosenwald, a New Yorker who, despite being burdened with an unattractive "tuberous" face and a chronic weight problem, through sheer force of personality rapidly ascends from mailroom clerk to become an all-powerful agent with a roster of A-listers on his books.

The author, as well as being the senior editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books, is also the son of renowned talent agent Fred Specktor and hence has a firm handle on the subject matter.

As we follow Rosenwald's path to eventual ruination, Specktor's insider knowledge allows him to vividly evoke the scheming nastiness of the entertainment business with complete authenticity.

Mingling in the cameos from real actors, such as George Clooney, John Belushi and Robert De Niro into the narrative also adds to the believability.

This is a complex, sprawling novel that has an almost Shakespearean feel to its tragedy.

Anyone with an interest in the film industry should be captivated.

* Hugo Berger