Two hot-selling, over-analyzed gossip books— Julia Phillips’s You’ll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again and Kitty Kelley’s Nancy Reagan: The Unauthorized Biography—give pause to consider the peculiar symbiosis that exists between those who acquire power in our society and those who write about them, even critically.
The town in Julia Phillips’s title is Hollywood. She was the first woman producer to share an Oscar for Best Picture (The Sting). Afterwards, she found herself thinking, “Is this all there is?” —but then she want on to produce Taxi Driver and Close Encounters, and now describes hitting a wall of frustration and self-loathing in her mid-forties. She found she still has “a pretty good brain and a very fast mouth.” She continues to run around, eat lunch, make deals; she’s getting over her drug problem, but she realizes she’s been in a state of “free-floating anxiety, depression, and rage” for so long that her unhappiness is as comfortable as an old bathrobe. The succession of sex and love experiences in her life has left no man who matters, it’s harder to get any movie done, let alone a good one, and she wonders whether any of it was fun in the first place....
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