Moneywood is the latest book from author William Stadiem. The non-fiction tome has a great premise – to look at the Hollywood excess and players of the 1980’s. The concept is intriguing and exciting for movie fans out there. It’s a chance to learn more about the suits behind the scenes as well as the talent in front of and behind the camera that helped create some of the 80’s biggest blockbusters (Top Gun, Flashdance) and flops (Heaven’s Gate, Howard The Duck, Popeye).
Stadiem begins his story detailing the connections between the Reagan presidency and the behind-the-scene moguls of Hollywood. Zigzagging between producers, agents, girlfriends and mistresses of celebrities, Stadiem doesn’t have anything meaningful to share, only decades-old gossip. Not to mention that his descriptions of the players are usually petty and cruel (Example: Sue Mengers: “This barely five-foot-tall roly-poly ball of fire was famous for flashing herself, a la Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct but minus the allure…” or Paul Lazar: “More of a star fucker than a star signer”) and he never shies away from the chance to remind you that someone is Jewish (The New York Times review summed this part up as well).
Moneywood reads like a chance to name-drop Stadiem’s run-ins with powerful Hollywood elite, promote his past books and hope you feel bad for his failed screenplay Thirty Day Wonder. He devotes a chapter entirely to Madame Claude—his social dining with her at Ma Maison (head chef at the time was Wolfgang Puck), her call girls, and her call girls’ Hollywood clients. Stadiem seems more than proud to have been a fly on the wall and remind you that he saw celebrities at dinner. Stadiem aimlessly jumps from one person to the next with a razor thin connection at best. It reads more like a vendetta list and payback for a stifled Hollywood career.
Ultimately, Moneywood feels like a cheap tabloid. It offers nothing of real interest and no takeaway other than gossip. I struggled to keep reading such dull and petty shlock. In the end, I stopped reading after 77 pages, which I think speaks for itself. The book couldn’t even intrigue me to continue on despite having to review it. While to some this may discredit me as a reviewer, I defend my actions with this—I have better books to read and better things to do with my time than waste it on drivel like this. And so do you.
Verdict: Definitely Skip It