PERSONAL: Male. Education: Educated in Santa Monica, CA.
ADDRESSES: Home—Southern California. Office—9056 Santa Monica Blvd, Ste. 101, West Hollywood, CA 90060.
CAREER: Novelist, journalist, and trend-spotter. Monkey Zero, Los Angeles, CA, cofounder; former political consultant.
On Spec: A Novel of Young Hollywood, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 2000.
Contributor to periodicals, including Vanity Fair and Details.
SIDELIGHTS: American author Richard Rushfield earned critical praise with his debut effort, On Spec: A Novel of Young Hollywood, which was published in 2000. A former field organizer for U.S. President Bill Clinton, Rushfield grew up and continues to live near Hollywood, California. He and Adam Leff own a "cultural futurist" firm; their company strives to understand every aspect of culture in the present and what that will lead to in the future. Rushfield and Leff also coauthor Vanity Fair's trend-spotting column, "Intelligence Report."
As the title of his book suggests, Hollywood, otherwise known as Tinseltown, plays a major role in On Spec. While fictional, the book is very critical of the Hollywood lifestyle and especially the film business. A contributor for Publishers Weekly described On Spec as a "swift and humorous trip behind the Hollywood facade." In addition to writing the book, Rushfield has also made public remarks about his disdain for both Hollywood and the film business.
After On Spec was published, Rushfield discussed the issue with Trisha Kirk, a writer for University of California Los Angeles's Daily Bruin. "The book is about a town where young people come and everyone tries to make it in a business where nobody really knows anything," he explained. "Everyone is grasping at straws and trying to get a place up the ladder by schmoozing and conniving anyway they can, and out of this schmoozing comes movies." The title of On Spec refers to the many speculative screenplays that circulate between development agents and film producers. The story revolves around one such screenplay and its author, Stu Bluminvitz. Bluminvitz, a recent graduate of Reed College, lives with his parents in Hollywood. His main goal in life is to become a film writer. The story begins with him trying to find a buyer for his first script, titled "Kennel Break," which is about two men trying to break a girlfriend's dog out of the pound. The plot follows the script as it circulates between an agent, a producer, and a studio head, who decide to make it into a movie. However, by the time the film actually makes it into theaters, it has been altered into a high-budget thriller about a couple of international jewel thieves who have a pet dinosaur. During this excruciating process, the young Bluminvitz is pushed further and further away from production, and is eventually thrown off the movie set. Ultimately the film is an unsuccessful bomb, a fact the studio's power players blame on the poor script and its writer. Instead of using a single, more traditional narrator, Rushfield concocts a narrative that is taken from a series of memos, journal entries, fragments from magazine articles, a police blotter, and computer messages.
Numerous literary critics lauded Rushfield's unabashed account of the Hollywood process. "Rushfield employs a scathing cynicism that spares no one," the Publishers Weekly critic wrote. Referring to On Spec as a "scabrously funny first novel," Eden Ross Lipson of the New York Times Book Review went on to describe the work as "a cautionary tale about Hollywood and a contemporary take on a morality play, or rather, script." Lipson also thought Rushfield has "complete command of his intricate plot." Jay A. Fernandez, who reviewed the book for the Washington Post, believed readers would "love it." George Needham of Booklist called the work "solid entertainment."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, March 1, 2000, George Needham, review of On Spec: A Novel of Young Hollywood, p. 1195.
Entertainment Weekly, May 12, 2000, Clarissa Cruz, review of On Spec, p. 72.
New York Times Book Review, April 2, 2000, Eden Ross Lipson, "The Treatment," p. 22.
Publishers Weekly, February 14, 2000, review of On Spec, p. 176.
Washington Post Book World, April 2, 2000, Jay A. Fernandez, "Close up and Personal," p. 9.
Daily Bruin Online,http://www.dailybruin.ucla.edu/ (May 11, 2002), Trisha Kirk, "Novel Takes Candid Look at Race for Fame in Hollywood."
Monkey Zero,http://www.monkeyzero.net/ (February 13, 2003).
New City Chicago,http://www.newcitychicago.com/ (May 11, 2002), Ellen Fox, "Tinseltown Tarnish."*