He spent his earliest years in post-WWII refugee camps. He came to America and grew up in Cleveland - stealing cars, rolling drunks, battling priests, nearly going to jail. He became the screenwriter of the worldwide hits Basic Instinct, Jagged Edge, and Flashdance. He also wrote the legendary disasters Showgirls and Jade. The rebellion never ended, even as his films went on to gross more than a billion dollars at the box office and he became the most famous - or infamous - screenwriter in Hollywood.
Joe Eszterhas is a complex and paradoxical figure: part outlaw and outsider combined with equal parts romantic and moralist. More than one person has called him “the devil.” He has been referred to as “the most reviled man in America.” But Time asked, “If Shakespeare were alive today, would his name be Joe Eszterhas?” and he was the first screenwriter picked as one of the movie industry’s 100 Most Powerful People.
Although he is often accused of sexism and misogyny, his wife is his best friend and equal partner. Considered an apostle of sex and violence, he is a churchgoer who believes in the power of prayer. For many years the ultimate symbol of Hollywood excess, he has moved his family to Ohio and immersed himself in the Midwestern lifestyle he so values. Controversial, fearless, extremely talented, and totally unpredictable, the author of the best-selling American Rhapsody and National Book Award nominee Charlie Simpson’s Apocalypse has surprised us yet again: he has written a memoir like no other.
On one level, Hollywood Animal is a shocking and often devastating look inside the movie business. It intimately explores the concept of fame and gives us a never-before-seen look at the famous. Eszterhas reveals the fights, the deals, the extortions, the backstabbing, and the sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll world that is Hollywood. But there are many more levels to this extraordinary work.
It is the story of a street kid who survives a life filled with obstacles and pain...a chronicle of a love affair that is sensual, glorious, and unending...an excruciatingly detailed look at a man facing down the greatest enemy he’s ever fought: the cancer inside him...and perhaps most important, Hollywood Animal is the heartbreaking story of a father and son that defines the concepts of love and betrayal.
This is a book that will shock you and make you laugh, anger you and move you to tears. It is pure Joe Eszterhas - a raw, spine-chilling celebration of the human spirit.
What the critics say
"The story about Mr. Eszterhas and his father, buried at the heart of Hollywood Animal, is a powerful and affecting one." (The New York Times)
What listeners say about Hollywood Animal
Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.
- J. Jason
MEMO to JOE ESZTERHAS
I just read your “H’wood Animal” script. Fantastic! Perfect! Best script ever!
The whole office loved it. A script reader peened the IT Guy with a bat. I was laughing so hard I could barely give directions to the ambulance.
Here are the changes needed before shooting: No one cares that whatshisname, the protagonist (Scott Brick?) pronounces “home run” wrong; lose that. And the ‘50’s ran too long (they dragged back then too).
You can pad the Rolling Stone gig. Maybe he covered John or Ringo – you can’t overdo The Beatles.
Market Research says the ending doesn’t work: everyone hates this guy. He can’t play Caligula for 40 years, get a sore throat, find God and then ride off into the sunset. Not a chance.
We’re thinking Obitz’s Wilshire goons track him down at a homeless shelter after his second wife’s divorce lawyer takes him for all he’s worth. The goons blow his brains out and steal seven dollars from his wallet. Whadda ya think?
We want to see 100 pages – 110 tops.
Love ya man!
Let’s do Chili’s next time you’re in Modesto. We’ll go over my latest script.
7 people found this helpful
A Winner Despite Itself
Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed the book Joe Eszterhas buried inside all the hyperbole. But I guess we shouldn't consider it strange that a writer is so in love with his words that he refuses to give way to an editor. Eszterhas has led an exciting and provocative life, both in Cleveland and in his dreaded Southern California, he's met many talented Hollywood denizens, he's written some of the best and worst screenplays ever to make it to the silver screen. It's just too bad one had to slug through all the repetitious crapola to get to the good stuff.
Still, Scott Brick is so wonderful as the narrator, it almost made it all worthwhile.
3 people found this helpful
- N. Saeed
I rolled my eyes so far back, I could see my brain
What did you like about this audiobook?
The audiobook starts off well with the writer's childhood memories and how he became what he is-let's face it- a soft porn hack. Peppered with some Hollywood trivia and short stories the book then degenerates in the middle into a petition to justify Eszterhas's hypocrisy claiming he didn't know who/what his father was, and sugarcoating his adultery and abandonment of his family. All the while painting himself as the reasonable, clearheaded, do-no-wrong innocent.
How has the book increased your interest in the subject matter?
Yes, immensely. I now enjoy listening to people lie through the teeth with halos above their heads. So more books about Hollywood would be great once I 'suspend my belief'.
Does the author present information in a way that is interesting and insightful, and if so, how does he achieve this?
The writer is a self serving, hypocritical, shameless bag of hot air. His writing is gripping though and the progression of events flows nicely up to the point where his family life falls apart and he "discovers" that his father was a war criminal. Eszterhas manages to twist every incident to his advantage and shows himself as a righteous figure and others as feeble, devious, immoral, sometimes grotesque, piranhas.
What did you find wrong about the narrator's performance?
The narrator was great, his intonation, pronunciation and ability to deliver the story gave it life.
Do you have any additional comments?
I just love how he incorporated his "mistress's" diary entries into the story to justify how he was driven into her arms by his-then-wife.
2 people found this helpful
- Harry Spitz
A great Book!
I could not stop listening to this book. It is a brutally honest look the life of a very controversial Hollywood Screenwriter. It is very well written and narrated. I highly recommend this book for anyone who is interested in film and Hollywood.
6 people found this helpful
LIFE IS, INDEED, STRANGE
From the original Hollywood-bad-boy writer to a born-again militant non-smoker. Life is, indeed, strange. A very long book BUT loaded with really great, iconic stories of the famous and infamous flawed, sometimes fatally flawed, Hollywood characters. Joe Eszterhas is a survivor who seems to have found peace but still a wounded creature. A compelling listen, and very well read.
1 person found this helpful
- Stephen F
First, let me say that I am only 8 hours into the book (20 hours to go). And, let me add that during the first couple of hours, I found the author self-congratulatory to the extreme, to the point of being a little obnoxious. (As other reviews have mentioned)
On the other hand, it was never boring. And it was, I'm sure, accurate. And, as he got into his life in the refugee camps in Hungry, and then especially, when he began delving into his early days and rise in Hollywood, I have found the book to be: INTERESTING (behind the scenes dealings in Hollywood), TOUCHING (especially his relationship with his father), often QUITE FUNNY (he?s a great story teller), witty, informative, captivating, and EXTREMELY WELL READ (this is the unabridged version). The author definitely grows on you.
I give this 5 stars for these reasons, plus one more: this is the kind of book that you can pick up and anytime, it keeps you company when you?re driving, and you don?t mind doing a few errands while it entertains you. I?m a TV writer in Los Angeles, so perhaps I find the behind the scenes stories especially entertaining, but I have to tell you, I am loving this book so far. Even though I?m not finished, I?m enjoying it so much, I wanted to boost its rating. I don't want it to end
1 person found this helpful
While I am sure this is a great book, I just cannot get into it. It jumps around from childhood to recent past and to be honest, i am not that interested in his childhood. I bought this book hoping to really get the 'goods' on hollywood. Maybe i should have bought the 'abridged' model?????
1 person found this helpful
Too long, too repetitive, not enough on hollywood
Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?
I would only recommend this book to people willing to spend a lot of time learning about a personal history, with a very limited outlook on Hollywood and screenwriting.
Would you ever listen to anything by Joe Eszterhas again?
Not if this long and unfocused.
What about Scott Brick’s performance did you like?
If this book were a movie would you go see it?
Not unless it was compressed to 90 minutes.
Any additional comments?
I was very disappointed. I liked every part about Hollywood & screenwriting, but I was looking for much more.I was not against learning about Eszterhas' personal life, but it was way too much to the point of shamelessness, too self-centered, hard to skip, way way too repetitive, exposing a fact one time is enough thank you.I highly disliked the holier-than-though author's inclination to rationalize and minimize his own faults, while so willing to never forgive and spend so much time on other's fault.
- Travelling Pillsbury
Puts the 'Me' in 'meandering'
This boat anchor has loads of puke-worthy Hollywood moments enough to scare anyone straight outta their screenwriting daydreams and right off the bottle too. Wow. I can't believe it's been 2 yrs and 4 mos since I downloaded this tome. What a romp, yes, but also, what a helium filled totally unedited self indulgence. Uneven? Yes. This is repetitive and narrative-ly structured like a snake eating its tail. I am still a couple of hours from the end and may take another year. But boy am I glad I moved 6 thousand miles away from my agent back in the 80s and never actually sold a screenplay. Joe: congrats for living long enough to find the regrets and the victories and slam them in between two covers like this; next time pay someone the big bucks to edit assertively, so it retains some narrative cohesion.
- H. Cruz
Love me Daddy
At the core of this memoir - and I went for the unabridged version -- is the honesty behind the making of a bloated - "lets have lunch" world that is Hollywood, but here....it's grounded in from an out-siders view, that's peppered with amazingly honest on why this dude is one of the most hated.
Like everything in life, it comes back how you were raised. I love the story telling conversational aspect of the book, but I ended up having little sympathy for the writer (who ends up another Hollywood Dick, to put it nicely).