American Dream Machine is the story of two talent agents and their three troubled boys, heirs to Hollywood royalty. It's a sweeping narrative about fathers and sons, the movie business, and the sundry sea changes that have shaped Hollywood and, by extension, American life.
Beau Rosenwald, overweight, not particularly handsome, and improbably charismatic, arrives in Los Angles in 1962 with nothing but an ill-fitting suit and a pair of expensive brogues. By the late 1970s he has helped found the most successful agency in Hollywood. Through the eyes of his son, we watch Beau and his partner go to war, waging a seismic battle that redraws the lines of an entire industry.
We watch Beau rise and fall and rise again, in accordance with the cultural transformations that dictate the fickle world of movies. We watch Beau's partner, the enigmatic and cerebral Williams Farquarsen, struggle to contain himself, to control his impulses and consolidate his power. And we watch two generations of men fumble and thrive across the LA landscape, learning for themselves the shadows and costs exacted by success and failure.
Mammalian, funny, and filled with characters both vital and profound, American Dream Machine is a piercing interrogation of the role, nourishing, as well as destructive, that illusion plays in all our lives.
They closed down the Hamlet on Sunset last night. That old plush palace, place where Dean Martin drank himself to death on Tuesdays, where my father and his friends once had lunch every weekend and the maître d' was quick to kiss my old man's hand. Like the one they called "the other Hamlet" in Beverly Hills, and "the regular other Hamlet" in Century City . . . all of these places now long gone. Hollywood is like that. Its forever institutions, so quick to disappear. The Hamburger Hamlet, the one on Sunset, was in a class by itself. Red leather upholstery, dark booths, the carpets patterned with a radical and problematic intaglio. Big windows flung sun in front, but farther in the interior was dim, swampy. Waitresses patrolled the tables, the recessed depths where my father's clients, men like Stacy Keach and Arthur Hill, sat away from human scrutiny. Most often their hair was mussed and they were weeping. Or they were exultant, flashing lavish smiles and ...
American Dream Machine beautifully illustrates not just how the sun is setting on the myth of self-made individualism but also how, with their feet planted on unsteady ground, the young now have no guaranteed formulas for success. "Life was more like the movies than anyone cared to admit. It was predicated on them, far more than vice versa," Nate says. Fair enough. Except, as he very well knows, not all movies have fairytale endings.
(Reviewed by Poornima Apte).
Full Review (986 words).
A talent agency is an organization that represents talent – actors, musicians, writers etc – and pitches their clients' talents to appropriate organizations. For example, a Hollywood talent agency will pitch or plug a particular actor on roles for upcoming movie projects. Talent agencies work closely with production companies and casting directors. In Hollywood, talent agents are certified by the Screen Actors Guild and follow certain professional rules of conduct. This includes the setting of fees. Most talent agents will take 10% of an actor's earnings from a role. The talent agent helps in pitching the actor and procuring auditions although the final results are dependent on the actor alone.
While talent agencies in ...
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