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The UPS and FedEx guys usually bring me DVDs and Blu-rays – lots and lots of films and TV shows from publicists hoping to get the word out about their projects. It’s like Christmas every day around here, and I’m happy to oblige by watching and writing.

But I’m also geeked whenever they bring me books on the entertainment industry. Such was the case this week when these arrived:

mgm-hollywoods-greatest-backlot-steven-bingen MGM: Hollywood’s Greatest Backlot. I love, love, LOVE anything about film history, and this is one of the coolest books I’ve ever seen. Written by Steven Bingen, Stephen X. Sylvester, and Michael Troyan, the hardcover book offers great insider details about MGM’s Culver City, where it’s said that a fifth of all movies in the United States were made.

And we’re talking details. The authors deconstruct the lot section by section, including maps, aerial shots, history, and trivia.

Like most movie fans, I tend to immerse myself in classic movies and forget that what I’m watching was actually filmed on a lot – most likely, the MGM lot. So it’s a kick to see the street where Andy Hardy walked in ‘A Family Affair,’ the jungle where ‘Tarzan the Ape Man’ swung from vines, and the mansion where Katharine Hepburn’s Tracy Lord held court in ‘The Philadelphia Story.’

I can’t say enough good things about ‘[amazon_link id=”1595800557″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]MGM: Hollywood’s Greatest Backlot[/amazon_link],’ a virtual panoply of all that’s good and treasured in cinema history. It also includes a too-short foreword by Debbie Reynolds.

hollywood-stories-cover Hollywood Stories. The tagline of this hardcover book by Stephen Schochet says it all: “Short, entertaining anecdotes about the stars and legends of the movies.” What I love about this book is that even though, technically, it’s “gossip,” it doesn’t feel that way. It’s not lurid TMZ-type gossip; it’s just funny and entertaining stories about all the people we’ve come to know and love on screen.

The book is divided into categories like Oscar Tales (behind the scenes with Jack Nicholson), Great Hollywood Comedians (from the famously elusive Bill Murray to Charlie Chaplin), Science Fiction and Horror (stories of ‘Blade Runner’ and ‘Gladiator’), Great Hollywood Anecdotes (Barbara Stanwyck and Linda Evans on ‘Big Valley’), Western Vignettes (tales of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood), Television Tales (the Kirk-Spock feud!), and much more.

If you like behind-the-scenes stories about Hollywood, then ‘[amazon_link id=”0963897276″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Hollywood Stories[/amazon_link]’ is the book for you. Read more on the book’s official site, and friend Stephen Schochet on Facebook. Happy reading!

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