September 30, 1996 12:00 PM

by Lynda Obst

If this book’s publisher has any sense at all, it will set up tables at all entry points to Hollywood, stack them high with copies of this witty, gnomic guide to making it as a producer in La-La (or is it Lie-Lie?) Land and wait for a scene straight out of The Day of the Locust.

A former editor at The New York Times Magazine, Obst went west in the ’90s to work for then-whiz kid Peter Guber (from whom she absorbed the art of the pitch) and later for David Geffen, subsequently producing, among others, The Fisher King, Sleepless in Seattle and the forthcoming One Fine Day.

Obst, who has a reporter’s eye and the soul of an anthropologist, explains the difference between a hipster (someone who hangs out at the Viper Club on Thursday nights and knows lots of musicians) and a trendsetter (someone who knew the musicians before they even arrived in L.A.). She outlines the particular problem of women in Hollywood (“The first thing you notice besides their low percentage of body fat is how few are married”) and offers tips for keeping your actors happy on a set (“Love the last movie the star made unless the star hated it; then you must hate the movie”).

At times, unfortunately, Obst seems to pull her punches, particularly when talking—always in awe and admiration—about superagent-turned-studio-head Mike Ovitz, Steven Spielberg, or megamoguls David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg. This, clearly, is a woman who intends to eat lunch in this town for a long time to come. (Little, Brown, $23.95)

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