Weddle, David 1956-
WEDDLE, David 1956-
PERSONAL: Born July 18, 1956, in Irvington, NY; son of James O'Neal and Gloria (Byrne) Weddle; married Risa Parness, April 19, 1997; children: Alexis Quartaruro. Education: University of Southern California, B.A., 1978. Politics: Democrat.
ADDRESSES: Home—28128 Pacific Coast Hwy., No. 262, Malibu, CA 90256. Agent—Kristine Dahl, ICM, 40 West 57th St., New York, NY 10019.
CAREER: Author and journalist.
If They Move—Kill 'Em!: The Life and Times of SamPeckinpah, Grove Press (New York, NY), 1994.
(With Jeffrey Lang) Abyss ("Star Trek" novel), Pocket Books (New York, NY), 2001.
Among the Mansions of Eden: Tales of Love, Lust, andLand in Beverly Hills, Morrow (New York, NY), 2003.
SIDELIGHTS: Author David Weddle's biography of famed director Sam Peckinpah, If They Move—Kill 'Em!: The Life and Times of Sam Peckinpah is "a probing biography of the enfant terrible of the 1960s and 1970s film-making," commented Booklist reviewer John Mort. Famous for his carefully choreographed, extended scenes of hyper-realistic violence, Peckinpah's fortunes rose and fell with his own battle with alcoholism. Before his tumultuous career in big-screen motion pictures, Peckinpah distinguished himself as a television director on series such as The Rifleman, Gunsmoke, and The Westerner. The film Ride the Wild Country augured a "brilliant beginning" to his career in film, but difficulties with Major Dundee dealt damage to Peckinpah's reputation and cast him as an alcoholic, difficult to work for, and unable to stick to a budget, Mort related. Three years later, Peckinpah returned to direct The Wild Bunch, perfecting his signature scenes of protracted, stylized violence. He directed other notable films, such as Straw Dogs and The Getaway before alcoholism proved too great an obstacle to making movies. "Peckinpah wasn't a great director because of his half-baked ideas and drunken posturing, however, but despite them." commented reviewer Howard Hampton in Artforum International.
Peckinpah emerges from the biography portrayed as "a gifted man at war with Hollywood, his four wives, and himself," remarked a Publishers Weekly reviewer. Hampton called the book "reverential" but also "spectacularly inane," and pointed out that the biography "caters to the florid legend" that has grown up around Peckinpah. "Weddle shows Peckinpah's fractured, lonely personal life in detail, but excels with his descriptions of how films were made" throughout the director's turbulent career, Mort commented.
In Among the Mansions of Eden: Tales of Love, Lust, and Land in Beverly Hills, Weddle offers a history and current biography of the money-laden haven of the rich and powerful. "Weddle's alternately affectionate and excoriating portrait of Beverly Hills will strike a chord of recognition among both the show-business pros and run-of-the-mill glitzy citizenry" of the famed suburb, commented Steven Gaydos in Variety. Once thought to be too far away from Los Angeles to be viable, Beverly Hills started as a planned community and quickly grew into a haven of excess when movie stars Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford built their mansion there. The theme of real estate plays an integral role in the book, as many of the stories are told from the viewpoint of the real-estate agents who trade in some of the country's priciest and most sought-after homes and parcels of land.
Among the stories Weddle relates are that of Bernie Cornfield, a wealthy hedge fund manager who was determined to re-create the hedonistic lifestyle of Playboy's Hugh Hefner, but who succeeded in creating only a mansion full of misery and disillusionment. Displaced Persian royalty rebuilds its fortunes here, accumulating vast wealth. A group of Jewish American comics surge into popularity then fade out of sight, taking refuge in the once-famous Friars Club, another institution feeling the weight of its years. Movie stars come and go; unwise ones lose their fortunes and are forced to move out of their homes, but new ones are always right behind them, eager to buy. Businessmen such as Bijan Pakzad and Fred Hayman amass their own fortunes by catering to the city's rich and credulous. And, in the background, disaffected youth still attend Beverly Hills High School, police still practice racial profiling, and dogs still get walked.
"The author deals conscientiously with all these people, but he has a little trouble with tone here, and who can blame him?" asked Carolyn See in Washington Post Book World. "Is all this material (so quintessentially cheesy and Gatsbyan) heart-breaking, or dizzyingly funny, or just a map of the way everybody would act, given half the chance and twice the money?" Weddle "has Chandler's eye and ear for significant details that define the sad and futile dreams of his real-life characters," Gaydos remarked.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Artforum International, November, 1994, Howard Hampton, review of If They Move—Kill 'Em!: The Life and Times of Sam Peckinpah, p. S9.
Booklist, August, 1994, John Mort, review of If TheyMove—Kill 'Em! p. 2014; March 1, 2003, Kathleen Hughes, review of Among the Mansions of Eden: Tales of Love, Lust, and Land in Beverly Hills, p. 1138.
Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2003, review of Among the Mansions of Eden, p. 135.
New York Times, April 7, 2003, Janet Maslin, review of Among the Mansions of Eden, section E, p. 6.
Publishers Weekly, July 25, 1994, review of If TheyMove—Kill 'Em! p. 41; February 3, 2003, review of Among the Mansions of Eden, p. 69.
Science Fiction Chronicle, November, 2001, Don D'Ammassa, review of Abyss, p. 46.
Variety, April 14, 2003, Steven Gaydos, review of Among the Mansions of Eden, p. 32.
Washington Post Book World, March 21, 2003, Carolyn See, review of Among the Mansions of Eden, p. C3.