Memoirs of a Failure : The Hollywood Self-Induced Lynching

Memoirs of a Failure is like no other Hollywood memoir. It is the autobiography of a Hollywood agent and former casting director, Tom Jennings, whose personal demons provide a cautionary tale about the pitfalls of hubris and how to stay out of them. After the University of Illinois, Jennings moved to LA and two years later became a top casting director, first at Universal and then at Warner Brothers. Always fast out of the gate. He was then talked into starting a talent agency with Walter Beakel, which they parlayed into some early success and became one of the top boutique agencies in Hollywood with a partner in London. At its peak, Beakel and Jennings represented stars on The Dukes of Hazard, Charlie's Angels, Happy Days and many more series; writers such as Irving Stone and Taylor Caldwell, musicians Burl Ives and Gene Simmons, DJ Rick Dees, athletes Dick Butkus and Bubba Smith, and comedians Foster Brooks, Henny Youngman, and Buddy Hacket, as well as future super star Julian Fellowes. Uber agent status was next. A bright star appeared on the horizon. Or was that a nuclear explosion? Explosion it was. Alcohol fueled business deals unraveled at an alarming rate. The Hobbit, Bat Man, The Blues Brothers, Red Star Over China, Norton and Ali, King Tut, Blitz, Dracula and several others fell through the cracks and became missed opportunities later championed by others. The movers and shakers of the time would have made them happen; Beakel and Jennings had them first, but were too busy figuring things out over cocktails at The Rangoon Racket Club, or The Polo Lounge. Worst of all was the chronic illness of his youngest son, Hugo, who developed epilepsy, which changed his life completely, as well as his Dad's. In 1969 Jennings was on the fast track. In 1993 he was by himself living in his brother's fourteen foot duck hunting trailer. What went wrong? This book answers that question.

--Tom Jennings



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