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A Drinking Life: A Memoir by Pete Hamill

By Pete Hamill

A journalist and writer of Loving girls recreates the hard-drinking Brooklyn-Irish way of life that educated each point of his youth and early profession and that at last destroyed his marriage.

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48 i am spartacus! “I think he might be in, but he’s worried about Howard Fast. ” Lew was already moving on. ” I took a deep breath. ” Anybody else might have dismissed me as delusional. Not Lew. ” was his immediate reply. ” “They’re my clients. ” That night, I told Anne that Spartacus might really happen. All we needed now was for Howard Fast to come through with a script. Unfortunately, he did. We’d flown Fast out to California from New Jersey, setting him up at the Beverly Hills Hotel. The now-former Communist didn’t complain about his posh digs, but he was already showing signs of becoming a major pain in the ass.

It seemed United Artists’ bluff had worked. The race was over and Yul Brynner’s picture had won. I went to see my new agent, Lew Wasserman. Lew was the head of MCA, the most powerful talent agency in Hollywood. Their client list read like a Who’s Who of Hollywood—Jimmy Stewart and Henry Fonda, as well as newer stars like Marlon Brando and Marilyn Monroe. Lew had his own big desk he always kept spotlessly clean— the important information was in his head. Lew Wasserman knew more and forgot less than anyone in Hollywood.

At a deeper level, she was also saying that she didn’t trust my judgment. That was hard for me to take. Back at the office, the news on Spartacus went from bad to worse. Marty Ritt, the director of The Gladiators, was furious that we were poaching on what he considered his historical turf. He told Eddie Lewis that they were way ahead of us with script, location scouting, and casting. Not only did they have Yul Brynner, they’d also signed Tony Quinn. I made a quick call to Tony and he confirmed this was true.

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