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The Power and the Glitter.

There is nothing particularly new, or even surprising, about the forever-evolving relationship between Hollywood and the politicians in Washington as dramatically, and sometimes amusingly described in THE POWER AND THE GLITTER (Pantheon, 437 p.) by Ronald Brownstein national political correspondent for The Los Angeles Times, and therefore a man in good position to observe those close ties between the movie colony and the men at the helm of U.S. politics.

Not that this mutual fascination is something particularly new. As Brownstein points out, "for some Hollywood figures, politics provides only another stage on which to exercise their ego," and involvement in politics reflects "the desire among many stars to control their own celebrity."

Conversely, the politicians, from presidents on down, are dazzled by the Hollywood type of fame (if not its notoriety). Brownstein, who has done his research, quotes President William Howard Taft as saying to Francis X. Bushman: "All the people love you, and I can't even have the love of half the people."

The Power and the Glitter ranges far and wide, from President Wilson and The Birth of a Nation (the first movie shown at the White House) to L.B. Mayer and President Hoover, Kennedy and The Rat Pack, Reagan and the Bush-Dukakis campaign in which Bush taught the Democrat a lesson on the ways to handle Hollywood and use its considerable influence. It's a good and valid book that, fortunately, doesn't stop at just recounting anecdotes, like Jane Fonda's disastrous journey to Vietnam, her Hanoi broadcasts and her subsequent comments when she returned calling American POWs "liars and hypocrites."

In between the stories and incidents, Brownstein analyzes the often-strange attraction which Hollywood and the politicians seem to have for one another, and explores the practical and psychological kicks which they derive from one another.

"I have tried to analyze how Hollywood has come off the backlot and actually joined in national politics," he writes, and the book is true to his word. It talks about the past -- including the notorious House Un-American Activities Committee and its witch-hunting excursions in the late Forties, (which sent a number of Hollywood writers to jail) and the infamous McCarthy period. It also dwells very much in the present, including Kennedy's relationship with Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra, Nixon and the Helen Gahagan Douglas battles, the Reagan period, and President Bush's brilliant use of the Hollywood ego.

The Power and the Glitter is utterly readable and thoroughly and intelligently informative, a book that richly deserved to be written, though it doesn't reflect particularly well on either Washington or Hollywood.
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Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:A Guide for Bookworms
Publication:Video Age International
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Apr 1, 1991
Previous Article:Editor's letter.
Next Article:Madcap, the Life of Preston Sturges.

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