Tuesday, September 19, 2006

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."


At 8:25 AM, Blogger RedDirt said...

What a bloated windbag.

Although he had real talent when he was penning pieces for Rolling Stone magazine in his pre-screenwriting days like, "Charlie Simpson's Apocalypse." A sample of his prose, the opening lines to the aforementioned piece of New Journalism:

"Right after the sun comes up, first thing folks do around Harrisonville, Missouri, is go up to the barn and see if the mare is still there. Horse-thieves drive around the gravel roads and brushy hills in tractor-trailers looking to rustle lazyboned nags. Then they grind them up into bags of meat jelly for the dogfood people. It's getting so that a man can't live in peace anywhere, not even on his own plot of land."

At 8:57 AM, Blogger Chase McInerney said...

That was before Joe realized that ground-up mares are one thing, but a Sharon Stone firecrotch shot is priceless.

At 9:36 AM, Anonymous docpants said...

That's Joe Eszterhaus? I thought an unemployed GM worker had hacked your Web site.

At 9:44 AM, Anonymous turtle said...

Did anybody ever see Burn Hollywood Burn? We rented it one night years ago and I remember fidning it pretty funny for about an hour before passing out from too many Jagermeister shots.

And why does everyone ignore Sliver when discussing the awful contributions of Mr. Ezsterhas? I mean, Showgirls and Basic Instinct at least have some element of campy fun and have managed to stake out some claim in our collective consciousness. But for my money, there's no more truely irredeemable and just plain boring piece of shit than Sliver, the crown jewel of his career as far as I'm concerned. (I have not seen Basic Instinct 2)

At 10:15 AM, Blogger RedDirt said...

I'm not sure why I'm putting myself in the position of defending old Joe. But critics did like his "TELLING LIES IN AMERICA," an autobiographical story that's been praised as one of the better screenplays to come out of 1997. The now-defunct magazine "Scenario" that sought to raise screenplays to a literary form chose "TELLING LIES" as one of its select screenplays to reprint and spotlight. So the man can write, which makes his choice to write schlock and broil himself in anecdotes about hootchy-koo with Sharon Stone all the more unappealing.


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