BOFFO!: How I Learned to Love the Blockbuster and Fear the Bomb

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9781401352165: BOFFO!: How I Learned to Love the Blockbuster and Fear the Bomb
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The formula for Hollywood success has long baffled even its greatest visionaries. For every blockbuster there are countless flops. Directors, producers, and actors who achieve great success with one film often suffer abject humiliation on the next. After all, George Lucas may have created the Star Wars franchise, but he also created Howard the Duck. Now Peter Bart, the editor-in-chief of Variety, co-host of Sunday Morning Shootout, and the former studio executive whose hits include The Godfather and Rosemary's Baby, presents a fascinating look at the hits that sizzle and the flops that fizzle.

In Boffo, Peter Bart reveals the backlot secrets behind the biggest hits and misses in both film and television: how movies with the biggest stars and budgets turned out to be bombs and how unknowns with no studio support overcame great adversity to make cinematic history. In so doing, Bart tells the history of pop culture itself. He looks at the mega successes of today, from The Lord of the Rings trilogy to the CSI phenomenon, the smashes of the past including Easy Rider, American Graffiti, and All in the Family, as well as the progenitor of all blockbusters, Birth of a Nation. Bart offers his signature straight-shooting analysis of the silk purses and the sows ears of the entertainment world.

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About the Author:

Peter Bart started his career as a newsman with the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, then spent seventeen years as a film executive (vice president of Paramount, senior vice president of MGM, president of Lorimar Film Co.) only to return to journalism as editor-in-chief of Variety. Along the way, he was responsible for seven books, including Shoot-Out, written with Peter Guber (the basis for their current weekly television show), Dangerous Company (a short story collection), and two nonfiction books, The Gross and Fade Out.

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Bart, editor-in-chief of Variety (PW's sister magazine) and former studio exec, smartly places 100 years of movies, plays, musicals and TV shows within their pop-culture context, while also illuminating their ongoing cultural effects. For example, when explaining the surprise Broadway megahit Cats, he also points to the concurrent blockbusters of ET and Michael Jackson's Thriller-both of which spread beyond their original art forms to become popular "phenomena." Around this time, he writes, "pop culture had been transmogrified into a multinational, multicultural, all-engulfing monster mega-industry." But it's his behind-the-scenes details that shine-one of the best chapters retells the near-miss negotiations involved in making The Godfather (as remembered by Puzo, Coppola and studio exec Robert Evans) While some of his observations are not new, the breadth of his knowledge and size of his Rolodex are undeniably impressive. The book is organized into 27 chapters roughly arranged in reverse chronology-starting with the likes of Batman (1989) and CSI (2000) and ending with The Birth of a Nation (1915)-and include a seemingly random list of box-office hits. But then again, as Bart tells it, creating a blockbuster itself is random: "the underlying reality about blockbusters is this: With few exceptions, they weren't conceived of as blockbusters."
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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9781401360283: BOFFO!: How I Learned to Love the Blockbuster and Fear the Bomb

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Publisher: Miramax, 2007
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