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The Club Rules - Power, Money, Sex and Fear - How It Works in Hollywood.

THE CLUB RULES - Power, Money, Sex and Fear - How It Works in Hollywood by Paul Rosenfield (Warner Books, 352 p.) is a largely successful attempt to define Hollywood's "in" group, which Rosenfield, a former Los Angeles Times reporter, calls "The Club." Much of the book is valid and, in a sense, "lifts the veil" from the Hollywood power structure. Rosenfield deals with various aspects of the personalities who run the movie empire, a job that requires insight, contacts, and a good deal of amateur psychiatry.

For instance, says the book, in Hollywood "sex is a subject not a verb. Sex is largely talked about rather than performed." Rosenfield goes on giving examples of this, including the disclosure (or is it?) that, when working on a film, Meryl Streep is celibate.

Inevitably, since Rosenfield is an excellent reporter, there are plenty of good quotes and anecdotes, and his "Club rules" are eye-opening as well as tongue-in-cheek amusing. In a roundabout way, the book is an attempt to explain and rationalize how and why Hollywood functions the way it does (or does not). The problem is that Rosenfield tends to generalize on the basis of a couple of powerful individuals, whose common trait, he maintains, is that they "love to be loved."

"The businessmen (and there are more of them in the Club than creative people) believe they are not going to be played by the talent," he writes, citing Michael Cimino and his behavior on Heaven's Gate as an example. But Cimino, an eccentric by any measure, is hardly typical of Hollywood.

Rosenfield clearly knows the Club members - those who are in, those who would like to get in, and those who have been cast out (like Frank Yablans.) He explains the whys and wherefores of individual "membership" and shows how Club members relate to stars and journalists. And he has a very pertinent and perceptive chapter on the agents who, as he explains, always used to be on the way to some other job and today are the real powers behind the various thrones in the movie capital. He calls that chapter "The Region of Terror."

Publicists, too, come in for a little examination, notably the elegant Pat Newcomb, a highly political P.R. lady who used to be close to the Kennedys. He identifies her as a former head of the U.S. Information Agency, which is surely a mistake. She handled Marilyn Monroe, and now looks after Robert Redford, Barbara Streisand, etc. Columnist Liz Smith is obviously a favorite of Rosenfield's, though the book hardly takes her full measure, either professionally or personally.

The Club Rules is a powerful and valid analysis of the kinds of minds that run and/or influence Hollywood. Put it on your "must" reading list.
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Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Video Age International
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 1, 1992
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