Hollywood is a land of sunshine dreams, glamorous red carpets, and the magic that happens when a great story lands in the right creative hands.

It’s also a place where brutal business decisions make and break careers — and where the bottom line can supersede artistic choices.

Since its beginnings in 1886, this singular neighborhood of Los Angeles has been defined by the push-pull between beauty and the bottom line. Even its founder, one Harvey Henderson Wilcox, was seduced by the California sun, then used that affection to turn a profit.

Still, it’s hard to resist the spell of a place that’s so iconic. Hollywood landmarks are recognized around the world: Melrose Avenue, Sunset Boulevard, Griffith Park, the Hollywood Bowl, Grauman’s Chinese Theater, the Walk of Fame, Universal Studios. Tinseltown has become the gold standard for glamour and success around the globe.

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In this episode, we take a dip into Hollywood history, discuss the times the Oscars ceremony went (gloriously) off the rails, and recommend five books that transported us to the movie capital, including a primer on storytelling from a master screenwriter, a journalist’s view of why we’re drowning in superhero movies, and three novels with distinctly different looks at the lives and loves of film stars. (show notes / transcript)

recommended books

Valentino Will Die

buy | read review

Adventures in the Screen Trade

buy | read review

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

buy | read review

The Big Picture

buy | read review

Plain Bad Heroines

buy | read review

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In this ep, we take a trip to the Golden Age of Hollywood, then jump to the present to try to understand just what's going on in modern Tinseltown. Let's get glamorous, darling, and go behind-the-scenes of the biz.

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