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Checking out "The Big Picture"

Posted at 4:24 PM on March 8, 2006 by Euan Kerr

I have been carrying Edward Jay Epstein's book "The Big Picture: Money and power in Hollywood" in my briefcase for the last couple of weeks. It's his behind scenes look at the that unique Hollywood blend of studio executive personalities and economics.

I dip into it when I have a few moments here and there, and it's really thought-provoking. The first section, which I just completed, leads a reader through the way the big six entertainment giants, which Epstein calls "The Sexopoly," came into being. For those of you counting on your fingers, they are: Viacom, Disney, Time Warner, NBC Universal, Sony, and Fox. For a bunch of businesses essentially engaged in the same thing, it is remarkable how they each took such different routes to get there.

What is particularly mind-bending is Epstein's explanation of the Hollywood economic realities and accounting acrobatics which can mean a movie can fail miserably at the box office and yet be considered a huge business success. Epstein points out that even though the Justice Department busted up the studio monopoly after World War II in an anti-trust action, the new studio elite have developed a new legally-tight stranglehold on the movie business.

You can get a taste of the book at Epstein's website.

March 2006
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