THE SEXIEST MAN ALIVE: A Biography of Warren Beatty

Ellis Amburn, Author . Harper Entertainment $25.95 (432p) ISBN 978-0-06-018566-4

"Warren wants the entire world to go to bed with him," explains an unidentified friend of the actor's, and Amburn's book attempts to prove it through a voyeuristic cataloguing of Beatty's sexual episodes, until the pretense of a balanced biography dissolves into a series of personal attacks. Discussions of Beatty's dysfunctional childhood and rivalry with sister Shirley MacLaine are sandwiched between chatter about carnal exploits that allegedly range from Cher to Barbra Streisand and gossip about bad behavior, such as the time Beatty left Natalie Wood in a restaurant and ran off for a three-day interlude with a checkroom girl. Madonna, his co-star in Dick Tracy, emerges as a viciously competitive woman who denigrated Beatty's success, age and lovemaking. More interesting is the actor's relationship with critic Pauline Kael and the elaborate revenge he took on her for an unfavorable review. Jack Nicholson, "King of Kink;" Roman Polanski, seducer of underage girls; and jaded Hugh Hefner steam up several pages. Amburn (a former William Morrow editor) crucifies most of Beatty's movies, save Reds and Shampoo—even Bonnie and Clyde gets dismissed as a shamelessly amoral glamorization of crime. Then, as if apologetic for a harshly one-sided portrait, the author praises Beatty for helping raise money after September 11 ("Warren's heart, as it had been so often in his life, was in the right place"), but this upbeat conclusion fails to remove the aftertaste of character assassination. 8 pages b&w photos. Agent, Al Lowman. (July)

Forecast:Readers willing to overlook the book's rampant and repetitive sensationalism may respond to its titillating, tabloid approach.

Reviewed on: 05/06/2002
Release date: 07/01/2002
Genre: Nonfiction
Mass Market Paperbound - 496 pages - 978-0-06-103151-9
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