'Hollywood Digs: An Archaeology of Shadows'
By: Ken LaZebnik
(Paperback / Kelly's Cove Press / 196 Pages / $18.90)
Description:In Hollywood Digs, veteran film and television writer Ken LaZebnik unearths shards of film history that have rarely seen the light of day.
Verdict: This incredible collection of essays, each one a true gem to behold on paper, digs in below the surface of Hollywood's famous and unknown. Like a true anthropologist, LaZebnik uncovers the telling details that illuminate whole lives. With the flair of a short story writer he ranges from F Scott Fitzgerald's abode in a film butler's cottage, Jack Nicholson's early auditions, and the origins of that lovable beach bunny, Gidget, among others.
But first, to get to know the book you have to get to know the author. Ken LaZebnik writes for television, film and the theater. His work includes collaborating with Garrison Keillor on Robert Altman's last film, 'A Prairie Home Companion,' many years of writing for hour-long television dramas, and ten plays, two of which have won citations from The American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA).
You want/need more proof that LaZebnik was the only guy that could have written this book?! Ok, what if I told you he also wrote the film 'Thomas Kinkade's Christmas Cottage,' which featured Peter O'Toole and Marcia Gay Harden, and was directed by Michael Campus. For television, he has written on series as varied as Touched By An Angel, Army Wives, When Calls The Heart, Providence, and Star Trek: Enterprise.
Indeed, during his seven-year tenure on Touched By An Angel, he wrote over twenty episodes. He wrote three PBS specials for their series "In Concert at the White House," which were filmed in the East Room of the White House.
Ok, that's enough of that, and as for the book itself, well, combining his previously-unprinted unearthed shards of film history that have rarely seen the light of day in speech either, we get further stories that will have you rereading detailed paragraphs over and over. How about the chapter on the romantic and tragic saga of Jock Mahoney, legendary stuntman and Hollywood's thirteenth Tarzan? Or the reveal of Micky Moore, who spent eighty-four years in the industry, first as a child actor with Mary Pickford and later as the fabled second-unit director of 'Raiders of the Lost Ark.'
You should also know that there are more than sixty (60) delicious duotone photographs to behold in this lovely hard-to-put-down book. Also includeed are two (2) large galleries by Hollywood master Leigh Wiener. They accompany the author's deft and idiosyncratic portraits of Hollywood luminaries including Paul Newman, Frank Sinatra, Jimmy Stewart, Judy Garland, Al Jolson, Milton Berle, George Burns, and Harpo Marx.
So, all things considered, Ken LaZebnik's 'Hollywood Digs: An Archaeology of Shadows' most certainly gives readers an insider's look at how Hollywood worked (and possibly still does today), sharing his own experience of success and failure along the way. And with his head amongst the stars, he does it all whilst keeping his feet firmly on the ground at all times.