In Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright, we learn about Scientology’s complicated cosmology and special language. We see the ways in which the church pursues celebrities, such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta, and how such stars are used to advance the church’s goals. And we meet the young idealists who have joined the Sea Org, the church’s clergy, signing up with a billion-year contract.

  Over the past decade, producer Lynda Obst gradually realized she was working in a Hollywood that was undergoing a drastic transformation. The industry where everything had once been familiar to her was suddenly disturbingly strange.

Combining her own industry experience and interviews with the brightest minds in the business, Obst explains what has stalled the vast moviemaking machine.

    Tom Donahue’s documentary, Casting By, takes us through the last 50 years of Hollywood history from an entirely new perspective -- that of the casting director. Pioneers like Marion Dougherty and Lynn Stalmaster were iconoclasts whose exquisite taste and gut instincts helped to put an end to the studio system and usher in a new Hollywood. They broke away from traditional typecasting and brought actors like James Dean, Dustin Hoffman, Bette Midler, Robert Duvall, Glenn Close, and Gene Hackman to the screen.

Tom Donahue combines personal narratives from actors, directors, and casting directors with extensive archival material to reconstruct the untold tale of Hollywood’s most invisible and unheralded profession.

Casting By will screen as part of The Berkshire International Film Festival on Sunday, June 2 at The Triplex in Great Barrington, MA. A Q&A will follow the screening with Casting Directors 
Gretchen Rennell and Elissa Myers.

"Hopper" by Tom Folsom

Apr 8, 2013


  Dennis Hopper was the chopper-riding hippie outlaw in Easy Rider, the prophetic madman in the jungle in Apocalypse Now, the terrifying psychopath in Blue Velvet and the kid gone wrong in Rebel Without a Cause.

The actor was taken under the wing of James Dean, a friendship that set Dennis Hopper on his path to becoming a star. He was a quintessentially American dreamer longing to be the next Orson Welles, a hell-raising director who revolutionized Hollywood.

    For years, people have been asking Ezekiel “Zeke” Emanuel, the brash, outspoken, and fiercely loyal eldest brother in the Emanuel clan, the same question: What did your mom put in the cereal? Middle brother Rahm is the mayor of Chicago, erstwhile White House chief of staff, and one of the most colorful figures in American politics. Youngest brother Ari is a Hollywood super-agent. And Zeke himself is one of the world’s leading bioethicists and oncologists, and a former special advisor for health policy in the Obama administration.

In the new memoir, Brothers Emanuel: A Memoir of an American Family, Zeke tells his family's story.

Lately, I’ve been seeing and savoring quite a few foreign language films: titles that have not enjoyed across-the-board theatrical releases in the U.S. This lack of theatrical exposure is not because these films are lacking in quality. They are in fact engrossing and provocative.