How Hollywood Seduced and Abandoned Critic Pauline Kael (Exclusive Book Excerpt)

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Brian Kellow's new biography reveals how the New Yorker critic was lured to L.A. by Warren Beatty but soon sidelined at Paramount by Barry Diller and the late Don Simpson.

Pauline Kael, who died in 2001, was as vivid a film critic as any of the movies she wrote about – often more so. Her impressive body of work has been collected in The Age of Movies: Selected Writings of Pauline Kael, which the Library of America is publishing Oct. 27. Marking the occasion, the New York Film Festival recently remembered Kael with a special program that combined a panel discussion that included such critics as The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy and a screening of James Toback’s Fingers, one of the movies she championed.

BOOK REVIEW: Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark

Kael didn’t just write about movies, though. In 1979, at the invitation of Warren Beatty, she came to Hollywood to work in the movie business herself -- with both Toback and Beatty. Her Hollywood adventure proved to be short-lived. Filmmakers, even friends like Toback, didn’t always appreciate her opionated manner. And so she returned to her home at the New Yorker, wiser, she would say, about the ways of Hollywood.

In this exclusive excerpt from his new biography, Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark, which Viking Adult publishes Oct. 27, author Brian Kellow recounts Kael’s tenure in Hollywood, from Beatty’s promises through a break with Toback and then the frustrating months she spent as a creative consultant at Paramount.

- Gregg Kilday


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