Hollywood Animal
Joe Eszterhas
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Buy *Hollywood Animal: A Memoir* online

Hollywood Animal: A Memoir
Joe Eszterhas
752 pages
March 2005
rated 3 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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When someone says the words "Joe Eszterhas," one of two images likely pops to mind: Sharon Stone uncrossing her legs in Basic Instinct, and Elizabeth Berkley pole-dancing in Showgirls. But Eszterhas, who wrote both of those films and many others, is about so much more than women in various states of undress.

The ultimate popcorn movie scribe, Eszterhas was also at one time one of the most powerful screenwriters in Hollywood, with massive hits like Flashdance, Basic Instinct and The Jagged Edge to his credit. Of course, no one can score every time, and Eszterhas' resume also includes the failure Jade and well as the massive bomb-turned-cult artifact that is Showgirls.

In his book, Eszterhas discusses his movies and his life, starting with his childhood in Hungarian refugee camps to his Hollywood battles. And whether or not you agree with Eszterhas' choices or like his movies, you've got to give it to the guy: he doesn't hold back. He's seemingly frank about his role in the dissolution of his first marriage, his drinking, his carousing, his jealousies and his failings. Though he's quick to point out when a director or studio or someone else "ruined" one of his films, you tend to believe him, as he is also quick to point out good ideas by same (the famous moment in the uncrossed legs scene in Basic Instinct, he confirms, was not in his script).

But beyond Hollywood gossip, Eszterhas' memoir is valuable for his stories about his family, from the mother who succumbed to mental and physical illness to the beloved father who nurtured and encouraged him throughout his childhood. Perhaps the book's most shocking revelation has little to do with screenwriting, but is rather about a secret, kept by Eszterhas' father for decades, that eerily mirrors the plot of Eszterhas' thriller Music Box.

Hollywood Animal is a fascinating portrait of a major Hollywood figure, warts and all. Though you don't always agree with Eszterhas, you often find yourself admiring his frankness and his guts. Love him or hate him, he's a true original.

© 2004 by Amanda Cuda for curledup.com

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