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Using the life and career of Don Simpson as a point of departure, "High Concept" takes readers on a riveting journey inside the Hollywood of the 1980s and 90s. For over two decades, Simpson was Hollywood's reigning bad boy, yet through the same period he and his partner, Jerry Bruckheimer were the most successful independent producers in the Hollywood history. The revelations in "High Concept" are astounding! Through intensive research Fleming has created a dramatic tale of the rise of the key players and how the Don Simpson way became the Hollywood way. Through an interwoven narrative of the decadence and greed, hypocrisy and hysteria, profligacy and moral emptiness of the key power brokers, Fleming returns to the core concept of excess and how it continues to drive Hollywood.
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Veteran show-biz news hound Charles Fleming argues that the short, insanely foolish life of producer Don Simpson (Flashdance, Top Gun, Bad Boys) stands as a larger indictment of Hollywood, and it's hard to argue with him. For one thing, Simpson helped create Tom Cruise, Richard Gere, Will Smith and Eddie Murphy, and his loud, high-concept, low-IQ school of filmmaking helped launch Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mel Gibson, and Bruce Willis to new heights (or depths). Others may have been responsible for 14 top ten pop tunes and 10 Oscar nominations, but nobody had thought to combine pop music and movies in such a synergistic way.
While Fleming concentrates on Simpson's own antics--car wrecks, career crack-ups, whacked-out drug and sex orgies, whimsical overspending on brain-dead blockbusters--he does make an excellent case that the entertainment industry as a whole is nutty and slutty. Even the more level-headed stars who turn up in High Concept turn out to be appalling: Fleming documents the behaviour that earned Demi Moore the Hollywood nickname "Gimme More".
Despite his $60,000-a-month drug habit, Simpson actually did come up with smart ideas, according to many witnesses, and he was sharp enough to know how dumb so many of his colleagues were. Sylvester Stallone, for instance, almost starred in Beverly Hills Cop, and had he not left the project in favour of his notorious stink bomb, Rhinestone, viewers would have been stuck with Stallone's rewrite of Cop, from which the star had removed every trace of humour--the very concept that made an ordinary action film, in Murphy's talented hands, a smash hit. In his detailed account of Simpson's bizarre life, Fleming demonstrates why modern movies are the way they are.
He also proves what a strangely tiny town Hollywood is. Simpson was mixed up with Heidi Fleiss, whose indicted dad was Madonna's paediatrician; his doctors had treated Kurt Cobain and Margaux Hemingway (and someone who had helped design Miss Piggy); Don Simpson's drug dealer claims he sold drugs to O.J. Simpson the day Nicole Brown Simpson died. The most shocking thing about the book is the Pulp Fiction-like combination of decadent horror and slapstick comedy that constituted everyday life for Don Simpson's cronies. The high life, as described in Fleming's compellingly readable book, exemplifies Carrie Fisher's incisive Hollywood epigram: "Good anecdote--bad reality." --Tim AppeloAbout the Author:
Charles Fleming has reported exclusively on the business of Hollywood for over ten years, as staff writer for the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, Variety and Newsweek. He is the author of You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again and You'll Never Make Love in This Town Again. He lives in Los Angeles.
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