The Last Mogul: Lew Wasserman, MCA and the Hidden History of Hollywood

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9780517704646: The Last Mogul: Lew Wasserman, MCA and the Hidden History of Hollywood

Lew Wasserman's life story is the story of Hollywood, the "you scratch my back, I'll stab yours" Hollywood that movie fans may hear about but rarely see. As the elusive, tyrannical head of the Music Corporation of America (MCA), Wasserman has been the most powerful and feared man in show business for more than half a century. His story has remained largely unknown, until now. . . .
        
Michael Eisner, David Geffen, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Ted Turner, Barry Diller, Rupert Murdoch: the men who run Hollywood today had the way paved for them by Lew Wasserman, the original Hollywood power broker. Intensely private and so low-profile that he wouldn't allow press photographers to take his picture for decades, Wasserman ran his beloved MCA with an iron fist. His story has never been told before for one overriding reason: fear. For more than fifty years, he has been one of a handful of Hollywood giants who could say, "You'll never work in this town again," and make it stick.
        
His career spans the entire history of the movies, from the silent era, through the age of Louis B. Mayer and the studio moguls, to the dawn of television, and up to present-day Hollywood, where money, microchips, drugs, and multinational politics dominate the corporate power struggles for control of the American entertainment industry. He was guru to such legends as Alfred Hitchcock, Marilyn Monroe, Marlon Brando, and Jimmy Stewart, as well as a whole new generation of film magicians, beginning with Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. Confidant to presidents and popes, Wasserman also had ties to the underworld. Even today, at eighty-five, he remains the Godfather of Hollywood.
        
The Last Mogul is the probing, thorough, and dramatic chronicle of the life of Hollywood's last living studio titan, the man who has come to personify show business in the twentieth century.

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Review:

"I run all the studios," 38-year-old Lew Wasserman boasted in 1951 when turning down an offer to run MGM. Indeed, he did. As president of MCA, the most powerful talent agency of its time, Wasserman gained unprecedented artistic and financial clout for Hollywood's top stars, hastening the end of the studio system. Not that he did it out of the goodness of his heart. The canny, ruthless Wasserman was famous for inventing new ways to increase MCA's percentage, most notably by bundling clients into packages the agency produced for the burgeoning television market--a glaring conflict of interest that finally prompted a Justice Department investigation. Veteran movie journalist Dennis McDougal (author of Fatal Subtraction: The Inside Story of Buchwald v. Paramount) uses Wasserman's career as a case study in how the entertainment industry has changed over the course of the 20th century. He chronicles MCA's evolution from a band-booking business in wide-open Jazz Age Chicago (where persistent rumors about the company's Mob ties began) to a postwar movie and TV powerhouse to a Japanese-owned subsidiary in the 1990s. Seamlessly blending biography, business reporting, and juicy celebrity anecdotes, this is first-rate showbiz muckraking. --Wendy Smith

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Praise for Dennis McDougal

Fatal Subtraction: How Hollywood Really Does Business

"O'Donnell and McDougal score a real bull's-eye in their informative and thorough blow-by-blow account of this landmark case."
--Janet Maslin, New York Times

"Fatal Subtraction is the guidebook to Hollywood deal-making in the nineties."
--Digby Diehl, Playboy

Angel of Darkness

"About as good a piece of journalism as you'll ever read."
--Larry King

"A gripping, well-told tale of incredible evil."
--Tony Hillerman, author of A Thief of Time and Coyote Waits

In the Best of Families

"A beautifully written and important book about murder, madness, and manipulating among the privileged class. A must-read."
--Jonathan Kellerman, author of Bad Love and Self-Defense

"Dennis McDougal has broken down the walls of silence that have enveloped this case since the day of the horrible crime. I was riveted by his reporting and writing."
--Dominick Dunne, author of Another City, Not My Own

"Startling . . . the Brady Bunch in Hell."
--Los Angeles Times

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