Don Simpson and Tom Cruise
Jerry Bruckheimer, Don Simpson, Tom Cruise
Jerry Bruckheimer, Don Simpson and Tom Cruise on the set of Days of Thunder

I love films about the industry. I’m obsessed with them: movies about movies, movies about making movies, movies about movie-makers, movies about actors, directors, cinematographers, producers, movies about people who are obsessed with movies, films poking fun at Hollywood, serious films about Hollywood, films about the film industry in other countries. I collect them; I keep lists of them.

Ditto books about the industry. My personal library, categorized and shelved according to the Michelle Decimal System, has more than 700 titles.

  • Acting craft
  • Acting craft-instrument development
  • Playwriting craft
  • Screenwriting craft
  • Directing craft
  • Camera craft
  • Lighting craft
  • Sound & music craft (yikes, should I separate this into two categories?)
  • Editing craft
  • Theater director memoirs
  • Film director memoirs
  • Playwright memoirs
  • Screenwriter memoirs
  • Actor memoirs
  • Producer memoirs
  • Performing artist memoirs
  • Theater director bios
  • Film director bios
  • Playwright bios (you’re getting the idea now?)
  • Screenwriter bios
  • Actor bios
  • Performing artist bios
  • Producer bios
  • Musician bios (too bad, even if you’re getting the idea, I’m still going to give you the entire list)
  • Acting business-auditions
  • Acting business-marketing
  • Hollywood exposes
  • Directories
  • Filmographies
  • Film criticism
  • Indie filmmaking
  • Auteur memoirs
  • Hollywood business
  • Indie marketing and distribution

That’s it. Not really too bad. It’s okay, Michelle, you’re not really OCD.

Boscutti's Don SimpsonThis weekend I read a fabulous book by Stefano Boscutti, “Boscutti’s Don Simpson.” Boscutti writes in an entirely unique, personal, off-the-rails style. The novel reads like a screenplay, but not exactly like a screenplay. It certainly does not read like a novel. It is sparse; every word is necessary. It’s formatted like a book, but it has short, short paragraphs, short sentences, phrases that are not sentences.

It mixes up economic description with non-quoted voice-over — the internal thoughts of the character Don Simpson. Once in a while Boscutti throws in a teeny little camera direction, as if he thought that maybe this book would become a film. But it is ALREADY a film. The book played a movie on my retina as I read. Boscutti’s prose slammed me right into the world of Simpson; it jarred me and shook me up; it made me a drug-gorged paranoid just as if I were in Simpson’s mind.

Don Simpson was a producer who created such films as “Flashdance,” “Beverly Hills Cop,” “Top Gun,” “The Rock,” “Days of Thunder,” “Crimson Tide” and “Dangerous Minds.” Some say he invented the blockbuster. He died at age 52 from massive health problems directly caused by his drug abuse.

He was a maniac among maniacs; he was impossible to work with; he was abusive and self-loathing. He couldn’t have a girlfriend because he had sex with several hookers every day. He didn’t like cats. Oh, and he pretty much hated everyone in Hollywood.  Yet, his movies were hits, and so everyone wanted to work with him. You wonder about that town, you really wonder.

You can and should buy “Boscutti’s Don Simpson.” Then report back here and let us know your thoughts on the book.


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