More than 50 years ago, a writer by the name of John Gunther began a series of travel books that took the reader to such exotic places as “Inside Asia,” “Inside Europe” and “Inside Latin America.” When you finished reading one of Gunther’s books, you knew more than you ever thought you’d know — or ever want to know — about some far-off region of the world. John Morgan Wilson carries on the “inside” tradition with his unique and detailed examination of everything that’s “Inside Hollywood: A Writer’s Guide to Researching the World of Movies and TV.”
“Inside Hollywood,” he tells us, “is not a screenwriting manual, although there are a few chapters that would be quite valuable to an aspiring script writer.” It is, he says, more “a research guide to the world of movies and TV for people who are writing about Hollywood, using Hollywood or the industry as a backdrop in the fiction … or are simply trying to navigate around the industry as a workplace.”
At nearly 300 pages, and with appendices on the language of Hollywood, trade organizations, research resources and other specialty lists, “Inside Hollywood” is well-researched and structured. It clips along at a lively pace and is lightly peppered with personal experiences of the author, a 30-year veteran of the Hollywood scene with working credentials both inside the industry (as a reader, a script writer, an acquisitions coordinator) and outside the industry (as a journalist writing on the Hollywood scene). As an interesting aside, the book is carried as one of the “50 Hot Titles” in the WGA’s James R. Webb Memorial Library under “Manuals & Guidelines.”
From the history and geography of Hollywood to the people who work there, their salaries and lifestyles, “Inside Hollywood” tells you more than you thought you’d ever know — or needed to know — about America’s most fascinating city. But if you’re writing about Hollywood, you really do need to know it all.