The New Kid In Town

October 30, 2010

Some of the most gratifying responses I have received so far about Bringing Back The Old Hollywood have been from people who tell me they feel much better about the mistakes they have made in their lives after they read about mine. In other words, “Stephen, you messed up so much worse than me, I feel so much better about myself.”

I consider those comments to be the best reviews for which I could ever hope!

And you know,  they’re right….as a small excerpt from Bringing Back the Old Hollywood illustrates:

The New Kid in Town

My first success (Smokey and The Bandit) brought me a new, convertible Jaguar XJS to drive to our offices at Columbia Pictures in Burbank from my new Hollywood Hills home high above the Sunset Strip.

It also brought me a gigantic and insufferable ego.

Agents took my calls right away and I deluded myself into thinking that they actually liked me personally and were my friends.

I dated would-be actresses and again deluded myself into thinking that they were attracted to me personally, which conveniently allowed me to ignore the tiny, little detail that I was the President of a major production company and could help their careers.

To put it succinctly, I was lost in my own ego much of the time, even around my old friends.

I can safely say that the only difference between my own behavior and that of the character Tim Robbins so brilliantly portrayed in the extraordinary movie industry satire The Player is that I never actually wanted to kill a writer.

An agent or two maybe, but never a writer.

To this day, I look back on my behavior during those years and shudder but, when I was in the middle of it all, I could explain away or rationalize anything.

My ego knew no boundaries.

In my head, I was a thirty-one-year-old master of the film universe. If there had been a “bonfire of the vanities” at that point, I could have provided the lion’s share of the fuel.

Even though I had grown up in the film business, I was going to have to learn very soon, and in a very public and painful way, that my egocentric perception of reality and the real truth were separated by a vast ocean of self-delusion.

My career was the Titanic and my ego was the iceberg that was about to gut and sink it.

If you are going through a hard or even devastating time now, please know that I’ve crashed and burned often myself, including a personal bankruptcy and several career missteps, even fiascoes. i have learned that those dark nights of the soul always lead us to a brighter tomorrow. As Tom Hanks’ wonderful line in Cast Away goes:

“You just have to get up every morning because you never know what the tide will bring in.”

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