Ron Rosenbaum, Writer

January 22, 2009

Roger L. Simon's Book and My Hollywood Anecdote

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 12:35 pm

There ought to be a special genre, an encyclopedia of the Hollywood anecdote. I’m especially fond of the subgenre that involves Hollywood and “art”. There’s a plentitude of new ones of that sort in Roger L. Simon (PJM founder’s) new book Blacklisting Myself.

A number of delicious episodes involve characters I’ve run into in non Hollywood contexts such as Abbie Hoffman and Timothy Leary, although I did once commit a Vanity Fair profile of Leary during his late period when he’d become something of a Hollywood pet and favorite of the town’s true gurus, the maitre’d’s of the hotspot restaurants and clubs.

But if you love Hollywood anecdotes you’ll savor Roger’s encounter with Barbra Streisand and her psychotherapist guru. (Everyone in Hollywood has a guru; for a cut-throat cynical class of people I’ve never met more naive suckers for phony shamans).

And in any case it gives me an excuse to tell my favorite anecdote about Hollywood and art: when I was going aound to see studio people about developing another VF story, this one about a Detroit homicide detective, which had been optioned by Tim Hutton. It has to do with the typical Hollywood studio exec’s pretension to know about art, as in visual arts, collecting thereof being a big token of one’s esthetic cutting edgeness.

This one guy in a corner office and expensively worn jeans was engaged in descibing some of his recent art purchases with the air of a knowingness and then stopped himself in mid-lecture, realizing how ridiculous he sounded.

“Ah yes, art!” he said ruefully, “It’s what we do, now that they tell us we can’t do drugs and fuck strange women any more.”

I love L.A.



  1. In Scott Fitzgerald’s essay “Afternoon of an Author”, as perfect and heartbreaking a summation of a creative life as can be imagined or dared, he shakily sits at breakfast, contemplating a request to purchase the film rights for “The Great Gatsby”. He had sold both the silent and talkie rights long before and was thus “out of it”. “Best stick to your last,” he thinks, the familiar furrow of what he did best. 72 years later, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, a freak story which Fitzgerald regarded as a throwaway, has 13 Oscar nominations. THAT is how Hollywood treats writers!

    Comment by charlie finch — January 24, 2009 @ 10:37 am | Reply

  2. If you want “an encyclopedia of the Hollywood anecdote” you could try “The Wit And Wisdom Of Hollywood” by Max Wilk.

    Comment by Eliezer Pennywhistler — February 18, 2009 @ 7:36 am | Reply

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