Wednesday, May 16, 2018

You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again Paperback – February 14, 2017 by Julia Phillips (Random House Trade Paperbacks) , A review by Stepehen Darori (#stephendaror,i@stephendarori), The Bard Of Bat Yam (#BardOfBatYam) , Poet Laureate Of Zion (#PoetLaureateOfZion)

A behind-the-scenes tell-all of my favorite UFO movie, written by a drug addicted movie producer who happens to be the first female movie producer to win an Oscar for best picture? Sounded irresistible so I picked up a copy of Julia Phillips' best-selling Hollywood chronicle. OK, there was far less about "Close Encounters of The Third Kind" than I had hoped for. "You'll Never East Lunch in This Town Again" is really the autobiography of Julia Phillips. Truthfully, I had never heard of Julia Phillips who died in 2002 - ten years before I discovered her somehow, via my wayward web surfing.

Phillips begins by chronicling her childhood in Brooklyn during the 1940's. From there she makes her way through college, and then onto her marriage to fellow producer Michael Phillips. After about a 100 pages, she begins detailing her ascension through the movie industry. Strangely, aside from the chapters on Close Encounters, Phillips discusses many more pre-production situations about money, hiring, etc. - than she does the actual work on the sets of her films. Sometimes, especially during the first half of the book, Phillips phases out of present tense, and holds flashback sessions in which she refers to herself in the third person. While reading, this technique seemed a tad confusing and unnecessary. Aside from that, Phillips' obvious talent as a writer demonstrates why she enjoyed such a successful movie producer - for a while, at least.

After reading "You'll Never Eat ...." here in 2012, I found that it does not live up to advanced billing as a "shocking tell-all." Perhaps I feel this way because I've become desensitized from two decades of celebrity tell-all books published since the initial release of Phillips' book in 1991. Still, I should acknowledge that Phillips raised the bar for books of this nature when "You'll Never Eat ..." first came out.

A lot the hubbub surrounding this book must have centered on her the endless derisive comments and personality critiques Phillips makes about influential Hollywood characters of the late 70's and 1980's. But aside from a couple notorious observations about Goldie Hawn, the dirt is usually limited to character assassinations of her business and movie industry contemporaries. And sometimes, she's even a bit evasive about the identity of her targets by skipping the name and merely alluding to whom the person might be. This usually happens when she's discusses the drug use of other Hollywood figures. Not very over-the-top. And if you're too young (like yours truly) to be familiar with the movie moguls and big names of the 1970's you may not have an idea of who she's describing/disparaging anyway.

Toward the very end of the book, Phillips recounts a close encounter (pun intended) with a fairly modern celebrity:
"Paula Abdul, who has choreographed several of Mary's videos, comes over to say hello, and we invite her to sit down. Within a minute, she is pouring her heart out to Mary about the lousy treatment she's received from Janet Jackson, who has not acknowledged Paula's contribution to her videos or her stardom. She must have been truly hurt to be so open in front of a complete stranger. The old Hollywood boogie...... A year later Abdul's album would have four hit singles and soar to number one. Had she become a star because another star rejected her? A case of `f*** me? no f*** you' .......No doubt."

Phillips' auto-bio is replete with great observations like this one (above). In a way, Phillips was holding a mirror up to the ugly, selfish and greedy side of the entertainment industry - the side that most never see. Phillips' witty, and often mischievous writing style, combined with her very judgmental and sometimes spitfire attitude carried me though all 615 pages. In other words, "You'll Never East Lunch in This Town Again" remains an engaging read - considering that it is a somewhat dated account of the movie industry in the late 70's and 80's.

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