Where Did I Go Right?: You're No One in Hollywood Unless Someone Wants You Dead

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9781575110691: Where Did I Go Right?: You're No One in Hollywood Unless Someone Wants You Dead

Beginning as a mailroom employee at the William Morris Agency in 1955, Bernie Brillstein rose to become one of the most successful Hollywood players of all time. In this witty, frank memoir, he recounts friendships and feuds with famous clients, among them Jim Henson, Gilda Radner, Lorne Michaels, John Belushi, and Brad Pitt. Brillstein also reveals the inner workings of The Blues Brothers, Ghostbusters, and other films.

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Review:

"My wink is binding," Bernie Brillstein writes in the middle part of his memoir of a career in showbiz. At this point the movie-star manager has already admitted that he wanted power and prestige as soon as he started in the William Morris agency mailroom. And that he chased after a Don Corleone-ish kind of respect afterward. But even when he became a clout-carrying manager and near-mogul he kept his people-first credo. You suspect he loves it too for the way it echoes the Borscht Belt, since that's the kind of verbal energy he draws on throughout this anecdote-crammed autobiography. He calls himself "show," but in four decades he had to be "business" too, tough enough to tell clients, as he says he did, when to start their career over from scratch. The book begins with a graphically honest memory of his visit to the proctologist with his family when he was 24--something he guffaws off, but it's probably not far from the sort of reality check he regularly gave clients like Jim Henson, Norm Crosby, Lorne Michaels, John Belushi, and Brad Pitt. He cops to a gambling addiction, a love of "high class call girls," and to the way he stole from Laugh-Into invent Hee Haw. But he also brokered Lorne Michael's big break with SNL, produced Dangerous Liaisons, and eventually got News Radio and The Sopranos on the air. He candidly assesses professional pains too, including Michael Ovitz's pathology, Garry Shandling's riddling neuroses, and the loss of Belushi and Henson. "I care," he writes finally, "because that's who I am." It's easy to smile at that, but by the end of the book it's also easy to believe he means it. --Lyall Bush

From the Inside Flap:

"What can I say? Hollywood's Big Daddy has written the mother of all show business bios ... It's sharp, blunt, witty, withering, insightful, and out-of-sight. An hilarious account of an extraordinary life, passionately lived. It's more than a great read, it's must-read." -- Robert Evans

Beginning in the William Morris mail room in 1955, Bernie Brillstein wanted only three things: "To walk into a restaurant and have people know who I am ... to be the guy who gets the phone calls and doesn't have to make them ... to represent the one performer people must have." Throughout his long career at the top of the entertainment industry--as a TV and movie producer, agent, and brilliant personal manager--Brillstein accomplished it all.

"Where Did I Go Right?" is Brillstein's street-smart, funny, and thoroughly human story of a life in show business. With his trademark wit and candor, he speaks out for the first time about his feud with Mike Ovitz, and about how it felt to pass the torch of his company leadership to his partner Brad Grey and "no longer be the king." He describes his close relationship with John Belushi and what it was like being alone with Belushi's body as it lay "stretched out across two cramped seats in a tiny jet, wrapped up in a body bag," on the way to his funeral. He shares stories about Jim Henson and Gilda Radner, about Lorne Michaels and the early days of Saturday Night Live. He takes us behind the scenes of such hits as "The Blues Brothers," "Ghostbusters," and "The Muppet Show."

Brillstein also reveals his secrets about how to survive and prosper in Hollywood, the real meaning of "the art of the deal," the difference between "hot" and "good," and why instinct is crucial to the future of the entertainment industry.

"Becoming successful is the most fun of all. I'm not talking about being successful or staying successful. I mean the getting there, the instant you arrive and, for the first time, you think, 'Where did I go right?'"

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