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Listen: A Showbiz Lawyer Satirizes Hollywood In His New Novel

Author Kevin Morris counts Matthew McConaughey and Mike Judge as clients, but they make no cameos in 'Gettysburg'

Kevin Morris Strictly Business Podcast
Variety

Don’t jump to conclusions about the new novel “Gettysburg,” a showbiz satire from someone who knows of what he writes, veteran Hollywood lawyer Kevin Morris.

Yes, there are characters that resemble some real-life industry figures like Norman Lear and Tom Cruise. And yes, the protagonist, John Reynolds, happens to be a middle-aged attorney who’s seen it all in his time working in the entertainment business. But don’t confuse anyone in the book for actual people, least of all himself, he says on the latest episode of the Variety podcast “Strictly Business.”

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“I decided to take on the challenge of fiction, frankly, because of the flexibility you get when you make stuff up,” said Morris, whose real-life clients include Matthew McConaughey, Mike Judge and the creators of “South Park.” “Reynolds is actually a nice guy. He’s probably a nicer guy than me.”

A comic romp about a weekend misadventure at a Civil War re-enactment, “Gettysburg” (Grove Atlantic) is Morris’ third work of fiction following a short-story collection, “White Man’s Problems,” and his first full-length novel, “All Joe Knight,” which depicts a coming of age in 1970s Philadelphia.

Morris admits he he had to be coaxed by his publisher into training his literary eye on his own day job, but felt comfortable finally going there after proving himself as a writer with the worlds he created outside of the business. “At first I didn’t want to touch Hollywood because it was too close, and I would be perhaps pigeonholed,” he noted.

But even as he moonlights as a novelist, he remains active at the firm he co-founded, Morris Yorn Barnes Levine Krintzman Rubenstein Kohner and Gellman. He discussed a range of subjects roiling showbiz, from the rise of the streaming services to the ongoing standoff between writers and agents. As someone who has packaged over 150 deals for writers over the course of his career, he expressed optimism that a resolution will come in time to help all parties capitalize on a “platinum age” for content creation.

“Boy, it’s stupid to throw any kind of sand in those wheels,” said Morris. “We’re doing great and the only thing that can destroy us is us. I just hope, like everyone, that cooler heads prevails and we really get solution-oriented here.”

Strictly Business” is Variety’s weekly podcast featuring conversations with industry leaders about the business of entertainment. Past episodes include conversations with Discovery CEO David Zaslav and Dana Walden, co-head of 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Television Group. A new episode debuts each Wednesday and can be downloaded on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher, and SoundCloud.