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Sleepless in Hollywood: Tales from the New Abnormal in the Movie Business

3.37 of 5 stars 3.37  ·  rating details  ·  250 ratings  ·  53 reviews
The veteran producer and author of the bestseller Hello, He Lied takes a witty and critical look at the new Hollywood.

Over the past decade, producer Lynda Obst gradually realized she was working in a Hollywood that was undergoing a drastic transformation. The industry where everything had once been familiar to her was suddenly disturbingly strange.

Combining her own indust
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published June 11th 2013 by Simon & Schuster (first published June 4th 2013)
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Scott Porch
Film producer Lynda Obst's career has had more twists and turns than a big-budget action movie -- which is not the sort of movie she makes. (Not yet anyway, but more on that later.)

Obst started her career as associate producer on Flashdance and made a film every year or two from the early 1990s through the early 2000s -- One Fine Day with George Clooney and Michelle Pfeiffer, Hope Floats with Sandra Bullock, Contact with Jodie Foster, and iconic romantic comedy Sleepless in Seattle with Tom Hank
Here's the blurb from the publisher:
The veteran producer and author of the bestseller Hello, He Lied takes a witty and critical look at the new Hollywood.
Over the past decade, producer Lynda Obst gradually realized she was working in a Hollywood that was undergoing a drastic transformation. The industry where everything had once been familiar to her was suddenly disturbingly strange.

Obst writes with affection, regret, humor and hope, and her behind-the-scenes vantage point allows her to explo
Michael Finnegan
Ten pages of useful information hidden among 250 pages of self-serving handjobberry. I want to punch this book in the face.
Curious as to why films these days are a never-ending parade of sequels and remakes, mostly featuring costumed superheroes? Lynda Obst, a veteran Hollywood executive producer, is too. She lived through the seismic shift that happened in the industry around '07-08. Here she tracks down studio heads, big name producers and marketing execs to get their take on what happened.

Their answers are illuminating: the contraction of the DVD market has taken a lot of money off the table that filmmakers used
Ever since Star Trek Into Darkness, I’ve decided I never want to see a new movie again. A calculated piece of brand awareness, it lacked any meaning or purpose. I have seen plenty of blockbuster, comic-book, franchise all-action movies before and enjoyed many of them, but until Star Trek Into Darkness, I had never seen anything that so blatantly made me feel like a dollar sign. Anyway, I know I’m not the only one who has felt a loss of interest in movies. Obst helps explain what happened to Holl ...more
Jon Hogan
I was horribly disappointed in this book.

Lynda Obst and SLEEPLESS IN HOLLYWOOD have become a bit of a hot topic in film criticism recently. Many critics that I read have cited her discussion of how the industry's focus on foreign markets is affecting the content of films. Especially now that these internationally focused, effects-heavy, largely-devoid-of-substance films have been flopping in the summer of 2013. I picked this up hoping to read the story of what changes in the movie industry cause
I have a few nitpicks with this book: the chapter on the 2007-2008 writer's strike is lazy (half of it is reprinted comments from a blog) and the concluding chapter throws in a bit of unsourced optimism totally out of step with the rest of the narrative, but on the whole this book is insightful, timely and important. This is a great succinct summary of how the movie business operates now and how it got to be this way. It is a sobering, somewhat depressing read as Obst chronicles how the collapse ...more
Lynda Obst worked as a film producer for many years before transitioning into television production in 2008. She comes to the table with a wealth of experience within the studio system. And while I appreciate the value of Lynda Obst's experience - indeed, I have assigned this book for a class I am teaching on the changing business model of the film world - I so deeply wish that Ms. Obst were a better writer. Not only is her prose often sloppy and overly simplistic, but she has very little sense ...more
This disappointing book has a former New York Times editor who has become a movie executive stating obvious things about the film business that pretty much everyone knows. She writes well but she writes about the trivial with very few inside stories and the book feels like a dated rehash of Variety or Hollywood Reporter articles.

Obst makes up a big theory that there used to be the "Old Abnormal" from the 1980s to 2000, and the "New Abnormal" since the mid 2000's. It's just a gimmick that takes u
While this book does get bogged down in technical details and internecine office politics, it is a pointed insight into how the Hollywood scene has changed and why Hollywood keeps churning out one dreary sequel after another, for example.

Ms. Obst is a woman who managed to survive the various changes in Hollywood while struggling to keep her head above water, move with the shifting attitudes and get her films made. They weren’t always hits but she realized you could learn a lot from flops as well
Luke Devenish
Ridiculously revelatory.
I wish I could rate this book more highly -- the first section, about how Hollywood now caters to the Chinese and Russian markets (which is one reason we see so much 3D -- they love it), was genuinely fascinating. But after awhile Obst turns once too often to her pals, who are always the greatest and smartest in classic Hollywood back-slapping fashion, and her own journey doesn't seem all that interesting. Disappointing.
Best for people with interest in how Hollywood operates behind the scenes, a category I inhabit. Author sets out to explain what happened to the business in the aughts that changed it so dramatically. (End of DVD revenue and growth of international to replace it)

It is who she talks to and her experiences that bring it to life: Peter Chernin, former Pres of Newscorp, who said that as DVD went away, companies couldn't run a P&L and wouldn't greenlight anything.

Marketing research legend Kevin
Marla Glenn
I was enjoying this book, despite its repetitions, until the author made a rude remark about people from Iowa. Why do Hollywood types think all Midwesterners are provincial? I wonder if Obst understands what the Iowa Writers' Workshop is and does, for example. Honestly. I don't even live there any more and it annoys me.
Jan 19, 2014 Emefa rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: film
The chapter on 'The Great Contraction', outlining the huge hit that Hollywood studios felt due to DVD sales falling, was very good, and gave me a lot of useful knowledge about what is happening in the movie business and WHY. But there was a lot of fluff in this book. Despite a lot of useful insider perspective, this book just didn't grab me. I think that's because I wanted MORE details about how the business of making movies works, and that was not the point of this book.

But I get that this boo
Gail Carriger
A little bit like Heads In Beds only for the Hollywood Movie industry. Very absorbing if you want to know why Hollywood is putting out the same old tent poll blockbusters over and over again. Which I do, because this behavior has driven me away from the movie theater.
This is not by any means a good book. It meanders and is in desperate need of an editor. That said, it provides an interesting view into an industry and way of life; in some ways it's biases are a feature not a bug. It's short enough that it was worth the read.
This book is about as deep as a puddle. The only substance to be had comes from interviews with industry professionals. It makes me long for a book on this topic done by a proper journalist.

Obst seems to go out of her way to insult and belittle every group on the planet. Her targets are Midwesterners, Chinese, screenwriters, Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe, Russians, kids, senior citizens, people who watch TV... the list is endless. If you're a human being, at some point Obst makes an off-handed de
Bruce Weinstein
No fun. That's the takeaway message from this book. Loved "Hello He Lied," but this is a microscopic examination of why Hollywood has changed for the worse. Far too detailed for my tastes about the business machinations of the film industry. It may be of interest to up-and-coming producers though.

The message is: it's no longer any fun to make meaningful movies. That's not only a depressing thought; I don't think it's true. There are and will always be people who love to tell stories through cine
Kay Van Slyke
Pretty inciteful read. If you like movies, you will probably enjoy this book. It was a recommendation from Fareed Zakaria on his Sunday morning program a couple of weeks ago.
Sleepless in Hollywood provides an interesting insider's view into the workings of the business of Hollywood. While peppered with references to well know Hollywood names, it is not intended for the movie gossip addicts. Instead it is a thoughtful, well explained view of how the industry has changed since the end of the 20th century, and how that determines what movies we see. Entertainingly written by a true Hollywood insider, it is perfectly suited for readers interested in the business side of ...more
This book can basically be divided into two parts: an explanation of the general state of movie making today and Lynda Obst’s personal experience as a person who makes movies. These two things have some overlap, obviously, but are also two very distinct topics (one being more forest and the other being more trees) but they are mixed in this book into an indistinguishable mush, which undercuts the worth of both sections. The more philosophical parts never felt like they were objective because the ...more
This book did have a lot of interesting information about the business of making movies and how it has changed in the last 15 to 20 years. At times, however, Obst's annoying sense of humor got in the way of her just presenting the facts of the story. I also got tired of all the name dropping, self congratulating, but it is a book about Hollywood so what else should you expect? I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to write screenplays or television scripts because it really does show you ...more
Lee Penney
The author is a producer, so the book provides an insiders look at the enigma that is the movie biz. Having worked in the industry for a long time, she’s able to provide her thoughts on what has changed. It isn’t just a series of her opinions and observations though, it also draws on others who have worked at the highest level.

In recent years, few people can have missed the rise of sequelitis, remakes and the use of other media (comics, TV shows, books, games, etc). If you want to know why, this
Khairul H.
Now I know why Hollywood makes nothing but sequels and why some movies are released internationally before they are released in the USA. A writers' strike forced studios to dump scripts and played it safe by making fewer films. Plus, China, whose people are hungry for entertainment and they have cash, wants nothing but action films and they want it on IMAX and 3D.

A sincere albeit haphazard look at how Hollywood operates in the 21st century where originality is anathema and blockbuster sequels a
I received this book as part of GoodReads First Reads program.
A whirlwind introduction to the movie business and how it's changing. This book is an insider's perspective on how the movie making industry is catering to different markets - if a movie can't do just as well (if not better) in Shanghai as Seattle, it probably won't get made. The book also discusses how TV and the internet are affecting the entertainment industry as well.
While there is quite a bit of name-dropping (especially her ki
Sean Wicks
The approach to this book could almost be broken down as a Hollywood movie plot. A producer (Lynda Obst - HOW TO LOSE A GUY IN 10 DAYS among others) awakens one day (ok well, maybe not so suddenly but it sounds more dramatic, right!) to find the business that she thought she knew had completely changed around her and was now almost foreign. Wanting to get to the bottom of this, she goes in search of answers talking to her colleagues including Studio Heads, Producers, Agents, Managers, etc. in a ...more
Lynda Obst is a film producer known for her work on an array of films including "Adventures in Babysitting", "The Fisher King", "Sleepless in Seattle", "How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days", and the upcoming Christopher Nolan film "Interstellar". In this book, Lynda recounts Hollywood's transition from what she calls the "old abnormal" into the "new abnormal". According to Obst, we now live in a day and age where the studios aren't willing to take risks with their films. Instead they import existing pr ...more
Amy Wolf
I read HELLO HE LIED & enjoyed it, but this book is even better, containing as it does the reasons for Hollywood's extreme paradigm shift resulting in BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE BATMANS, PART XXVCCII, and the reboot of AVENGERS before the second one comes out. . .

Obst dissects what she calls The New Abnormal, giving a cogent analysis of why the death of DVDs, the rise of International, and the surprising rise of quality television have forever altered the ways that movies are made & sold.
Jack Gattanella
A very good book with a slightly weak chapter (seriously, who ARE these people that Obst is quoting that commented on Deadline, are they really 'industry' people or trolls?) and an ending that pumps up Television, perhaps in some quarters rightly so, as the New-New-Wave, it's an eye-opening book. It's strange but I knew a lot of this stuff already, but reading some of the cold hard facts about the New Abnormal, I feel like I've grown a bit as a reader. It's strange times in Hollywood, and now it ...more
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AWESOME!! 1 10 Jun 10, 2013 12:56PM  
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Hello, He Lied and Other Tales from the Hollywood Trenches Sleepless in Hollywood Interstellar: Original Screenplay

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