Verdict: Craviotto gives us a blow-by-blow account, which amply demonstrates how ephemeral Hollywood relationships are. This is a fast read, hard to put down.
The year is 1990 and, though there are already rumors of strange goings-on, Michael Jackson is at the height of his power. Steven Spielberg wants him for a Peter Pan movie (with Michael as Peter, natch). Jeffrey Katzenberg, head of Disney, is onboard with the idea. Darlene Craviotto, an award-winning screenwriter, is called in to write the film. She is told she has until September to turn in a script, but Katzenberg’s idea of September is May. Talk about pressure.
For Craviotto, the pressure is compounded by her agoraphobia, a panic disorder producing attacks of intense fear and anxiety, which she and her agent, Raymond, have kept a secret. A serious auto accident left Craviotto petrified to leave her house, let alone drive a car. Her husband, an out-of-work actor, and two kids under six, only add to her feelings of pressure.
The bulk of An Agoraphobic’s Guide to Hollywood consists of detailed descriptions of Craviotto’s meetings with Michael Jackson, recorded with his permission. The result puts the reader front row center–privy to his giggles, intense vulnerability and the fact that he hates his father for hitting him. Talk of Peter’s loneliness seems to meld with the star’s own experience.
Craviotto battles Michael’s sometimes awkward silences and quicksilver mood changes—going from man/child to authoritative businessman—and the author comes across, by turns, baffled, frustrated, charmed and intimidated.
Interspersed throughout the story are episodes describing Craviotto’s battle to overcome her agoraphobia and she does a fine job delineating the panic that sets in when she has to drive even a few blocks by herself. Her writing is straightforward, mixing dialogue with inner narrative revealing her reactions to everything going on around her. The reader really does get a strong sense of what it’s like to be around these heavy hitters, who indeed are indeed different from the rest of us.
If you’re wondering whatever happened to that project, Craviotto gives us a blow-by-blow account, which amply demonstrates how ephemeral Hollywood relationships are. This is a fast read, hard to put down.
Reviewed by Joe DelPriore for IndieReader
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