Ingrate, Thy Name is Eszterhas
Joe Eszterhas, that lovable once-upon-a-time king of criminally overpaid Hollywood screenwriters, has authored yet another poison-pen letter to the town that had the audacity to make him a multimillionaire for writing timeless classics like Showgirls, Flashdance and Basic Instinct -- three movies where, as you know, the writing was everything.
The new tell-all is the aptly title The Devil's Guide to Hollywood. In The New York Times Review of Books, reviewer Joe Queenan nicely summarizes the career of the scribe:
"Mild-mannered screenwriter Joe Eszterhas ... is the sort of foot-shuffling country bumpkin who arrives in Los Angeles from the hinterland one day with his head full of dreams, only to find out that beneath Tinseltown's wholesome surface swarms a nest of vipers. Worse, this 'refugee street kid from the West Side of Cleveland' soon learns that producers and directors despise maverick, outsider, rebel, free-spirit, street kid wordsmiths like him, because screenwriters can write dialogue that sounds like it might be uttered by a welder who wants to be a ballerina (Flashdance), whereas producers and directors are 'morons.' What's more, screenwriters can write a mystery that hinges on a missing typewriter (Jagged Edge), then write a mystery hinging on a missing photograph (Music Box), and then write a mystery hinging on a missing ice pick (Basic Instinct), and have the gall to demand payment three times for the same idea."