In a letter accompanying the galley for this first novel by veteran Hollywood producer Cort, the publisher promises a story that gives insight into "how movies are really made." It doesn't quite live up to that promise. The novel essentially follows the fortunes of one moviemaking family through most of the 20th century, across three generations, focusing primarily on the middle scion, AJ Jastrow, a pushy, nervy, cocksure producer whose career ranges from the post-WWII period to the millennium. Raised in the moral shadow of his father, Harry, a self-made man too decent for Hollywood, according to his wife ("I married a fucking moron"), AJ reluctantly enters the movie business following an aborted legal career. Making an early reputation in the new medium of television, AJ shifts to feature production via agenting, attempts a version of Apocalypse Now, suffers a stroke, recovers and founds his own studio with Japanese capital. Then there are the family subplots: his failed marriage to Steph, followed by remarriage to Steph after a 14-year hiatus; the doings of his dutiful daughter, Jess, his disastrous son, Ricky, and most of all, his mother, Maggie, whose malicious machinations against her son could earn her a spot on The Sopranos. The cast is multiplied by a host of celebrity cameos, including Bing Crosby (" 'I shot a seventy-seven at Bel Air yesterday and took Astaire for a C-note' "), Steve McQueen (" 'Let's get ripped' ") and Sam Kinison ("Sprawled across a king-size bed, Sam swamped two young women with his blubber"). But this avalanche of anecdotal scenery is so far-ranging, it can barely support its own weight. (July)
Forecast:Studio execs may pick the book up for the long plane ride between New York and L.A., but general interest is likely to be less than overwhelming. 50,000 first printing; 6-city author tour.