The sequel to Chili Palmer's hit movie Get Leo tanked and now Chili's itching for a comeback. So when a power lunch with record-label executive and former associate Tommy Athens ends in a mob hit, he soon finds himself in an unlikely alliance with organized-crime detective Darryl Holmes and the likely next target of Russian gangsters. But where others see danger, Chili Palmer sees story possibilities.
Enter Linda Moon, a singer with aspirations that go further than her current gig in a Spice Girls cover band. Chili takes over as Linda's manager, entering the world of rock stars, pop divas, and hip-hop gangstas. As he wings his way to success in the music business with his trademark cool, Chili manipulates his adversaries and advances his friends, all the while basing the plot of his new film on the action that results. Be Cool is rife with drama, jealousy, and betrayal, and all Chili needs to do is survive to make a new box-office hit.
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The film Get Shorty was a success on many fronts. It introduced a new style of hip gangster that revised the stereotype of the Godfather series. It also helped relaunch the career of John Travolta. And it brought Elmore Leonard's impressive body of fiction to larger public attention. In Hollywood, such a triumph usually spawns a sequel--a film that rehashes the great jokes and cool scenes of the first film, but with none of the panache that initially inspired audiences.
In the beginning of Be Cool, the sequel to the novel Get Shorty, readers are reminded that Chili Palmer--like his creator--scored a huge success with a gangster film (his was entitled Get Leo). But the sequel, Get Lost, was a predictable dud. Rather than follow that sordid story, however, Leonard takes Chili into a totally new direction. He places Chili on a murder investigation (in which he is a prime suspect) and then traces Chili's entry into the music business. Meanwhile, Leonard reveals a whole new cast of fresh, funny, and flaky characters to populate Chili's world, characters like Elliot the gigantic, gay, Samoan bodyguard who lives to be on the stage. Throughout, the voice of John Travolta rings in Chili's every speech (word has it that Travolta has already been cast to reprise the role) as Leonard pokes fun at the Hollywood apparatus and the task of a sequel writer.
Be Cool surpasses its original because it is so self-consciously a novel about sequels, about the sometimes cowardice that limits the creativity of the American film industry. It is hard to imagine how Leonard could top the multilayered satire/crime novel/exposť. One only hopes for a sequel. Fans of Be Cool might want to check out music from The Stone Coyotes, the band that served as Leonard's model in the book. --Patrick O'KelleyFrom the Inside Flap:
Get Shorty's Chili Palmer is back. No more Mr. Nice Guy.
After a smash hit in Get Leo and a flop in Get Lost, B-movie-producer Chili Palmer is looking for another score. Lunching with a record company executive, Chili's exploring a hot new idea--until the exec, a former "associate" from Chili's Brooklyn days, gets whacked while eating his grilled pesto chicken. Lucky Chili wasn't around for dessert.
Segue from real life to reel life. Chili's found his plot. It's a slam-bang opener: the rubout of a record company mogul. Cut to an ambitious wannabe singer named Linda Moon. She has attitude and a band. She's perfect. Zoom into reality. Linda's manager thinks Chili's poaching and he's out to get even, with the help of his switch-hitting Samoan bodyguard. But somebody else beat them to the punch, as Chili discovers when he gets home and finds a corpse at his desk. Somebody made a mistake. . . .
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