Picks and Pans Review: Driving Under the Affluence
When movie producer Julia Phillips titled her juicy first book You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again, she didn't expect to be taken literally. Still, her bestselling Hollywood tell-all got her barred from Morton's, an L.A. hot spot frequented by the industry bigwigs she recklessly trashed. Her flagrant breach of Hollywood protocol—you can use drugs, be shallow and backstab, just don't write about it—turned Phillips into an instant pariah, a status she gleefully exploits in this follow-up, billed as a further attack on "the undying enmity of a humorless, unforgiving Male Hollywood Establishment." Despite Phillips' acrimony, the only venues likely to bar her as a result of this sequel are bookstores.
Fancying herself a wizened observer of the Zeitgeist, Phillips, who won an Academy Award in 1973 for co-producing The Sting, compares her personal chaos (back surgery, a drunk-driving arrest, tax problems) to the fires, riots and earthquakes ravaging L.A. It's a risky conceit that reaches a peak of self-indulgence when Phillips, 51, likens her figurative pummeling at the hands of Hollywood's power brokers to the beating endured by Rodney King ("The more I watch Rodney the more I am Rodney").
She might have pulled it off had she been blessed with Joan Didion's eye or Carrie Fisher's wit, but this book's title is as clever as it gets. And except for a delicious feud with David Geffen (who recently called her "an angry, nasty, vaguely deranged woman"), she has no real target for the comic bile that made her first book so entertaining. Minus the drugs and the dish on famous people, Julia Phillips is just an ordinary, middle-aged malcontent. (HarperCollins, $24)