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Giving Good Hollywood by Chris Culler

About a month ago a good friend sent me a book that was self-published by a friend of hers because she thought I would like it. How RIGHT she was! The book is entitled “Giving Good Hollywood” and it was written by Chris Culler, who works as a story analyst for a major film studio.

Now just based on the title alone one would have to wonder just what the book is about. But, with a quick read of the back cover you discover it is a fictional look at how movies are made in Hollywood. It is also about how some of the folks working in Hollywood still want to make “good” movies. The basic premise of the book is about “having the courage of your ambition” without “inevitably losing your soul.”

Here is a brief synopsis of the book:

Natalie Saladay is back in Hollywood, and now she wants it all: The power to make good movies. The love of a good man. And she’ll risk just about anything in order to “give good Hollywood.”

The descriptors at Amazon and Shopping.com (where the book can be purchased) also reveal this about “Giving Good Hollywood”:

In this satirical romance novel of Hollywood, unabashedly ambitious, recently divorced Natalie Saladay is a studio “reader” whose job is to cull through scripts and books in search of that perfect movie. Natalie knows that the “show” and “business” of filmmaking are synonymous, but her boss, the beautiful, ruthless and equally ambitious executive Mona Pearl, dismisses Natalie’s preference for character-driven screenplays as “movies for nobody.” Soon studio intrigue and a tragic film location accident galvanize Natalie into rekindling a hot romance with charismatic producer Benny Gallo, the man she swore she never wanted to see again. Conflicted about the powerful producer and big-time heartbreaker, Natalie nonetheless persuades Benny into producing a soulful “little independent-that-could” film set in Central Coast wine country. Mona, on the other hand, is staking her reputation on the studio’s big budget special effects-action “tentpole” picture. The entire film business appears in upheaval, but Benny Gallo urges Natalie to trust her own ambition, even as he serves to benefit from her “giving good Hollywood.” Is he the devil bargaining for her soul? Her Svengali? Or is he “the man who got away?” As the glitz and glamour of awards season approaches along with the release dates for both radically different movies, as the rivalry between the two women reaches a fever pitch, Natalie realizes she may indeed be risking her soul and even the love of the man she’s always wanted — all for giving good Hollywood.

From the moment I opened the book and began reading the first few pages I was transported into a world that, for me, is merely “down the street” [since I live in Los Angeles] and I chuckled at the descriptions of the characters (as they resemble people I have met or seen in the City of Angels since I arrived here in 2000).

As I moved through chapter after chapter, I was captivated by author Chris Culler’s style of writing and the ease with which she tells a story. Whether you are familiar with how the business of making movies is done or simply want to have a fun book to read “Giving Good Hollywood” is certainly worth the cover charge.

You can find “Giving Good Hollywoodhere and here.

Thankfully, Chris has another book called “101 Ways Your Mother Said You Could Die,” which is a “liar’s memoir” coming out soon. And, I for one can’t wait to read it!

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Last night I attended the kick-off night of the Sixth Annual Fall TV Preview Party held at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills – primarily sponsored by TV Guide (as well as a number of other sponsors).

The night was dedicated to NBC and featured a screening of their new fall comedy Outsourced as well as panel that included the cast (most notably Diedrich Bader, Australian actress Pippa Black, who is known for her work in the popular Aussie soap Neighbours and newcomer Ben Rappaport).

Once that screening, panel and Q&A was complete, the rest of the night was dedicated to screenings of three of the network’s new dramas: The Event, Chase and Undercovers.

First up was The Event, which I had already seen at Comic Con this past July. It was interesting to view it with the typical audience at the Paley Center and compare it to the audience at Comic Con. Two VERY different types of viewers, I must say. Whereas the Paley Center audience was quiet during the screening and only whispers could be heard, the Comic Con audience was more reactive, commenting about what they liked and, in some instances, disliked about the pilot. Without giving much away from the story, the series delves into very divergent storylines that do not seem to be inter-related until near the end of the hour when the paths of the various characters start to intersect. What exactly “the event” really ends up being is anyone’s guess; but as long as the show can maintain a clear path toward answering questions and not get bogged down in too many layered stories, it may have a chance. Judge for yourself when The Event debuts on NBC on September 20 at 9 PM.

Then there is the new drama Chase from Jerry Bruckheimer, which is a cop show that’s not quite a cop show. A team of US marshals track down dangerous fugitives with a heavy dose of cunning, skill and determination. Going into this screening I wasn’t sure what to expect from this pilot, but I came out of it being surprised by how much better it was than I anticipated. The show has a lot of action – which will make the male viewers happy – a strong female lead – which will not only interest men but also inspire women to watch – and a cast of characters who actually work well as a team. And, as soon as I saw the name David Nutter appear on the screen, I knew the pilot would be solid. For those of you unfamiliar with the name, David Nutter is a legend in the industry as a very good director; he just does quality work. In this instance, Nutter is actually one of the executive producers on this series. In my opinion, as long as they can keep the pace of this show like they did in the pilot episode, they will have a shot at seeing more than just a handful of episodes air. You can check out Chase when it debuts on September 20 at 10 PM on NBC.

Lastly, the new spy drama Undercovers from J.J. Abrams (the man behind Lost and Alias) was screened. At this point, the Paley Center audience had thinned out considerably; but those of us who remained were entertained with a show that is a little bit of Alias and a whole lot of Chuck. It is not your typical serious spy series; it’s interlaced with humor, a bit of slapstick and a whole lot of love between the lead characters. I mean, after all, they are a happily married couple – who run a small catering company – who are brought back into their old spy lives to help find a former friend and fellow spy who has gone missing. Everything might not be what it seems in terms of their being called back into action, but the pilot was entertaining, at times a little ‘roll your eyes’ silly; but overly not a bad new addition to the network’s line up. You can see the debut of Undercovers on September 22 at 8 PM on NBC.

What NBC shows are you looking forward to seeing in the coming weeks? Please share.

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