Book Review by Jason King
I’ve met movie lovers of all kinds over the years. I married a movie lover who doesn’t go too far without a good book in hand, and I know a guy who still believes he could be a great film director without ever reading a book. After all according to him, the reason he wants to make movies is because he hates books. I for one have always found that movies and books go hand in hand. Sometimes a great book can give you more insight than any movie ever could. Now, as you all know, I love movies (even though my reviews may not always seem like it)! And so it should go with out saying a non fiction work about the film industry just might be something I would enjoy. Over the past few weeks, I had a chance to read a book about the super bowl of movies- The Academy Awards- and thought I would share a few thoughts about it with my fellow movie lovers.
The Big Show: High Times & Dirty Dealings Backstage at the Academy Awards by Steve Pond gives you a backstage look at what goes on backstage each year at the Academy Awards. Pond’s journey into Hollywood’s mecca of film award shows starts as a magazine article about the award show but turns into a book that focuses on a 15 year behind the scenes journey through Oscar history. With each chapter devoted to an Oscar year, Pond takes you step by step through Oscar history from 1989 to 2005 from the opening choice of a producer for the year’s show all the way to the Governor’s Ball celebration.
People who love to know how the Oscars tick will be find this book an easy read. It makes you feel like a fly on the wall through the Oscar planning stages and the big show itself. As a reader you get Pond’s take on some of the back stage antics of some of Hollywood’s biggest stars. You find out who is a backstage diva, who’s easy to work with, who is high maintenance, and no maintenance at all. If you’ve ever wondered how the Academy chooses their winners, or even what great lengths they go to make sure the winner is not known until Oscar night, this book gives you a nice over view. From the planning stages of gathering up Hollywood’s A list to designing the set, Oscar budgets and all the details that go into making each award show a success (and the headache the goes with it!), Pond’s book lets you delve head long into the world of the Oscars.
The problem with Pond’s book is that it becomes much of the same old stuff chapter after chapter. Pond points out how after the disaster of an Oscar show done by Alan Carr in 1989, the Oscars begin to follow almost a formulaic pattern created by Oscar producer Bill Cates. Much like Cates’ Oscar Show, the book follows a similar format. Because of that, you feel that you keep re-hashing the same content over and over again as you make it past the half way point. It is the back stage antic of some of the stars, and Pond’s no shame, dislike for Harvey Wienstien that keeps you turning pages.
When it comes to a comprehensive book about how the Academy Awards have been pulled off, Pond’s book is a quick easy read. I enjoyed it, despite the repetitive nature of each chapter. If you really don’t know much about the Oscars and want a book that will get you feet wet, The Big Show: High Times & Dirty Dealings Backstage at the Academy Awards might be the book for you.