Picks and Pans Review: Sweetie Baby Cookie Honey

updated 02/02/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/02/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Freddie Gershon

Some people were born to be showbiz lawyers, others were born to write novels. Very few, this roman a clef about the pop music business would suggest, were meant to do both. Gershon, a music industry attorney for the past 20 years, has served such well-known clients as Van Morrison and Eric Clapton. He obviously knows his stuff and can write with authority about such things as songwriting royalties and record store profit margins. What he cannot do is tell a good story. Sweetie Baby Cookie Honey traces the lives of four high school friends from 1956 to 1981. The hero, David Barry, is tall, handsome, popular, kind, honest, successful and—you guessed it—an entertainment lawyer. His pals are Joyce Heller, a plain-Jane photographer who is miraculously transformed into a gorgeous "movie and music video mogulette"; Rick Firestone, a nerdy singer in the Barry Manilow/Neil Sedaka mellow mode; and Hedy Harlowe, a lusty, busty songstress known for her large gay following and her skimpy onstage attire. All four wind up with fame and big bucks, learning along the way the less-than-surprising lesson that showbiz isn't all it's cracked up to be. Rick gets cheated out of his earnings by a dastardly manager. Hedy succumbs to drug use and obesity. Joyce is tossed aside by her rock star lover. Good guy David, who suffers less, is always around to help his friends and utter pithy platitudes about the horrors of "the business." Gershon is certainly convincing about the varieties of corruption to be found in his line of work. But it's hard to be engrossed by his one-dimensional characters or prose like this: "Everywhere Rick turned, there were Beatles. You couldn't buy their love, they wanted to hold your hand, you loved them do.... He was nowhere, man." While music insiders will no doubt have fun combing the pages of this book for fictional versions of themselves and their colleagues, those of us who aren't in the book may wish Gershon had just kept quiet. (Arbor House, $17.95)

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