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David Mamet talks about his 40 years in Hollywood in his new book


My first encounter with David Mamet was not a pleasant one.

It all started on the night of May 25, 1979, when I watched with increasing horror the world premiere of the last play of the musical “Lone Canoe.” Back at the Sun-Times offices, I wrote my review, which appeared in the next day’s paper with the headline: “Lifeless and riddled with holes, Mamet’s ‘Lonely Canoe’ is sinking.”

I was not alone in my critical disdain. Linda Winer of the Tribune wrote that the game “is about testing, exploring, and getting really lost.” So is Mamet for now.” Other critics were equally dismissive.

But time passes, bygones are bygones, and over the ensuing decades Mamet became not only the nation’s leading playwright and Pulitzer Prize winner, he and I became friends, and I have read or watched everything he has created since “The Lonely Canoe.” he has long considered this one of several failures in his writing life and career, and they are essentially the same thing.

For the record, Mamet was born in Chicago, where he became famous first for his early plays, such as “Sexual Perversion in Chicago” and “American Buffalo,” and later for several dozen others, including “Glengarry Glen Ross” (a Pulitzer Prize winner in the 1980s). 1984); Nearly 50 films, including “The Verdict,” “Wag the Dog” and “Hannibal” (including “House of Games,” “Homicide” and “The Spanish Prisoner”); some television work and more than 20 books.

He does not use a computer. He doesn’t have a website. No email. Twitter is out of the question. He doesn’t text. He does most of his writing in a high-rise mansion that doubles as an office, where he comes five or six days a week. It’s near the home he shares with British-American actress-singer Rebecca Pidgeon. They got married in 1991. They have two adult children, and Mamet has two older daughters from his first marriage.

Now on my desk is his last work, which he dedicated to his wife. This is a non-fiction book titled “An Oink Oink Everywhere.” It is subtitled “The Embittered, Dyspeptic and Accurate Report of Forty Years in Hollywood.” Like most things Mamet has ever written (and said publicly, for that matter), it has attracted attention, generated controversy, and led to wildly differing opinions.

His first sentence sets the tone: “I’m ready to think badly of everyone, so I think I’m open-minded,” and the last sentence of the prologue informs us that its pages “will contain salacious gossip and bad memories masquerading as information.” It can amaze and disturb, and if you love the movie, bring a wry, sad smile to your lips.

True enough, but some of the early reviews were not kind; none was harsher than that of local critic/editor Hugh Iglarsh. It is written in the latest issue of Newcity that it is “a book largely composed of (often disgusting) anecdotes… [The book] It looks like one of those stray farewell messages discovered too late on the mass shooter’s computer, less a memory than… hostile and downright toxic.”

Ah. But there were also some similar compliments. Library Magazine: “Mamet’s staccato, sarcastic, episodic, war-like writing will fascinate his fans.” And this Kirkus Reviews: “Come for famous anecdotes; Stay for the cartoons.”

Esteemed critic Dwight Garner paints a full critical picture In the New York Times, writes that Mamet is “confused” and calls the book “poorly argued, rabidly anti-woke, and haphazardly written.” But he continues: “It’s going to be a bonsai-sized frenzy to review, because I have a soft spot for these kinds of disposable, variety-hour books…”

Mamet’s relationship with and in Hollywood began in 1980, shortly after the “Lonely Canoe” debacle, when he bluffed his way into the 1981 remake of his first screenplay, “The Postman Always Rings Twice.” The following decades would not only give us more theatrical works, but also a steady stream of films, some as screenwriters and nearly a dozen others as both writers and directors. He worked in television. He wrote books.

You will read about his hatred for the producers and his love for old movies; their opinions on just about everything. We read why Martin Scorsese turned down the offer to write the screenplay for “Raging Bull”; his friendship with director Stanley Kubrick, who described how painful it was for Kirk Douglas during the making of “Spartacus”; The pleasure of working with Joe Mantegna and Don Ameche in the “mafia comedy” “Things Change”; It’s about a TV drama that could be “crooks, lawyers and cops” starring James Gandolfini; and why, in Danny DeVito’s opinion, “a prince… never lived a greater gentleman.”

Famous names, wrapped in Mamet’s honesty and storytelling skills, appear on every page. I was less taken with his political side, but enjoyed many moments of self-reflection, as when he wrote: “I have always been built like a mailbox, and since my youth I have been compared to a bear.”

The book also includes some lively footnotes and nearly 40 cartoons; my favorite is “Who was the most attractive woman in the history of cinema?” The movie titled. It is accompanied by a drawing of Lassie.

There is a certain anger and disappointment in the shadow of this book; It reflects how he feels Hollywood is ruined. I hope he’s sitting in his office in Santa Monica now writing more screenplays, maybe more plays. In winter this lion still growls (he is 76 years old) and in my last encounter with Mamet he gave me pages (cartoons) full of amusement, frustration, provocation, amusement, anecdotes, concerns, insights and more. this constitutes life itself.


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