by Aaron Spelling with Jefferson Graham
Born in Dallas to Russian-Polish immigrants, young Aaron Spelling endured both poverty and prejudice. (“I grew up thinking ‘Jew boy’ was one word,” he writes.) Now 73, the multimillionaire Spelling has clearly come a long way. The Guinness Book of World Records cites him as the most prolific producer in prime-time television history, with successes like Dynasty, Melrose Place, Beverly Hills, 90210, Charlie’s Angels, The Love Boat and The Mod Squad. The home he shares with his second wife, Candy, has been described as Los Angeles’s largest single-family dwelling. With its 12 bedrooms, bowling alley, swimming pool, screening and video-game rooms, doll museum, staircase modeled after Tara and, count ’em, two rooms for wrapping presents, it has become something of a tourist attraction.
So Spelling’s rags-to-INSTYLE story ought to have made good telling, but A Prime-Time Life suffers not only from padding-including page after page from various teleplays-but also from a lack of the sharp gossip one expects from a Hollywood insider who in his 40-year career has worked with such stars as Barbara Stanwyck, Dick Powell and John Travolta. Of Beverly Hills, 90210’s notoriously difficult Shannen Doherty, for example, we learn only that, “Yes, Shannen was late to the set…. We talked to Shannen and her agent, and we all agreed it would be best to move on…. I wish her only the best.”
Then there are the soppy clichés, presented as insights, and the startling awkwardnesses. “To find true love,” Spelling writes, “I think one has to stop loving themselves.” Hollywood’s treatment of aging actresses? “The moment a woman’s breasts droop one inch, they [the actresses, not the breasts] don’t work anymore.” Discretion and an outwardly sunny disposition may get you in the Guinness record book, but they don’t make for much of a read. (St. Martin’s Press, $23.95)