In response to:
The Grand Acquisitors from the April 7, 2005 issue
To the Editors:
I greatly appreciate Larry McMurtry’s intelligent review of my book The Big Picture: The New Logic of Money and Power in Hollywood[NYR, April 7, 2005], but I would like to answer the question he raises in his conclusion. He asks, with considerable force: “Who will want all these facts?” He may well be right in suggesting that those who run Hollywood (or even play bit parts there) have little interest in its demystification and that “the general public far prefers the tabloid view of Hollywood.” He could also add to this list entertainment journalists who serve as conduits for timely celebrity items produced by the studios’ PR machines and who regard more complex explanation as occupational hazards to be avoided.
But even if McMurtry’s assessment is correct about the extent of the audience for a serious book about the entertainment economy, I believe that Hollywood’s camera obscura deserves to be illuminated. Rather than simply accepting the cult of personality carousel of explanations for why Hollywood’s product is so juvenile, why not examine the forces—both economic and social—that relentlessly drive the system in this direction? Indeed, those who ask how the movie industry can possibly make sense are asking the wrong question. There is no longer a movie industry, there is a home entertainment industry. This new Hollywood makes its decisions on a very different logic than did the old (movie-based) Hollywood, and I believe it deserves illumination.
Edward Jay Epstein
New York City
October 19, 2006