Genre: Biographies & Memoirs
Publication Date: February 2010
About the Book:
The cover of Hollywood Stories describes itself as a book of “short, entertaining anecdotes about the stars and legends of the movies!” Stephen Schochet spent more than 20 years as a Hollywood tour guide, researching and telling thousands of entertaining anecdotes, some of which he compiled for this book.
Here’s an interview with the author from NBC4 in Los Angeles:
I thoroughly enjoyed the captivating stories in Hollywood Stories. Each anecdote starts with the story itself, then adds in two or three “extras” which relate to the story. Some of these stories were familiar to me, but many were surprising. These stories are sometimes inspirational, sometimes humorous and always entertaining. This is a fast read – it is easy to read through three or four stories in just a few minutes and each story is unto itself. Don’t be surprised if you get so engrossed in this book that your kids start pounding on the bathroom door to be let in!!
My rating for this book: 5 out of 5 stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame!! A must read!!
Interview with the Author:
TM: How did you discover the stories you tell in Hollywood Stories?
SS:I had always been interested in the movies and history so it was kind of a natural fit for me. When I first started I had a study buddy named Ivan. During our breaks we would research information about old Hollywood and share it with each other. I remember one time we met on Hollywood Boulevard and he said to me in a low, conspiratorial tone, “Steve, man, you know what I found out today? That Thomas Edison owned the rights to the movie camera and the early moguls like Mayer, Warner, and Zukor they had to pay him tributes. That’s why they left the East Coast and came west — they were outlaws, baby!” The more information we found out, the more fun it was to give the tour. And I’ve got a good memory for stories so having different material kept it fresh, I think for the customers as well. Anyway, eventually I had the idea that these very short anecdotes could be told anywhere and that’s what led, after a few other projects, to the idea for the book.
TM: What was your favorite part of being a tour guide?
SS: Just the simple act of showing people a good time. There are moments where I’m feeling very fluid giving people information; when I can sense people are really enjoying it; it’s a very good feeling. One thing I try to do is put myself in the place of the customer who may being seeing Hollywood for the only time in their life.
TM: Do you have any tips for other writers on getting their work noticed?
SS: Tell EVERYONE about the book. I have a business card with a picture of the book and the web site that pass out at coffee shops, Home Depot, Doctor’s offices, wherever. The late Dick Clark talked about how the secret to broadcasting is to remember that you are always talking to one person; I try to emulate that when I am doing radio interviews or tours. And be enthusiastic about your work; I have no problems letting people know they will have fun if they read my book.
TM: What was the best writing-related advice you ever received?
I read an interview with the late animator Chuck Jones which really helped me put things in perspective about doing the best you can; I made it a story in my book:
Be All You Can Be!
Legendary animator Chuck Jones identified more with his less-than-perfect characters. Bugs Bunny was such an invincible force that he had to be minding his own business before he was provoked. Only then could the rabbit be justified in raining down complete destruction on his enemies. Chuck Jones felt more kinship with the perennial loser Daffy Duck. Likewise, the ever-hungry Coyote was made more sympathetic than the invulnerable Roadrunner. The helpless carnivore, that was totally responsible for his own destruction, represented Jones’ personal ineptness with tools. How could someone with such an inferiority complex be a success in his own career? Chuck often told the story how when he was a kid in art school, he wanted to quit because the other students were so much more talented than he was. He changed his mind when the teacher advised him, “Just be the best Chuck Jones you can be.”
TM: Do you have any upcoming projects you’d like to discuss?
SS: I am working on a second book but Hollywood Stories involved twenty years of research so no time limits as to when it will be done. I’m still collecting new material all the time; I really think books, at least in my case, are built, rather than just written from scratch. One thing I can suggest if people want to do media is never stop preparing. I recently did a bunch of interviews involving The Three Stooges who I have several anecdotes about in my book; I did additional research and did not stick to what I had written and now I have some new material for a later edition or second book. I found from re-reading The Three Stooges Scrapbook by Jeff Lenburg, Joan Howard Maurer and Greg Lenburg (wonderful book by the way) that Larry, despite living lavishly and beyond his means, never spent that much on food and was always hungry. One day he gobbled up a plate of unattended meat on a movie set and then turned green when he was told he’d just consumed dog food. The middle stooge turned green, then recovered and said it was actually delicious, where could he get more. I ended up using that anecdote a few times on radio interviews and the tour.
You can read excerpts from the book on the website.
Follow Stephen Schochet on Facebook.
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