There's no place quite like Hollywood, a town without rules where surviving is easier said than done. That's the bottom line of Shoot Out: Surviving the Fame and (Mis)Fortune of Hollywood, an inside look at the movie-making industry co-authored by Peter Bart and Peter Guber. The pair write from experience: Bart is editor of the show biz bible Variety and a former studio executive who had a hand in films such as Rosemary's Baby and The Godfather. Guber, former president of Sony Entertainment, is a longtime producer of movies, including Rain Man and Batman.At UCLA, Bart and Guber team-teach a class in which industry personalities guest lecture. This book is based on some of those accounts, as well as the authors' colorful experiences. The emphasis here is on the moviemaking journey from the initial pitch to the final cut and all the people in-between, including writers, producers and agents (who, according to the authors, dwell in their own sociopathic cocoon ). Guber and Bart offer tantalizing behind-the-scenes tidbits about stars like John Travolta and Eddie Murphy, who on a fluke was cast in the blockbuster 48 HRS. (His role was offered to Gregory Hines and Bill Cosby, until someone finally asked, How about that funny black kid on Saturday Night Live? ) As Guber and Bart reveal, only 20 percent of film projects in development actually get made, and it's no easy going for the chosen few. Brisk, lively and detailed, Shoot Out proves once again that there really is no business like show business.
Biographer Pat H. Broeske has covered the film industry for the Los Angeles Times.