Books by Scott Eyman

51-7O4pVLBL._SS500_Scott has been awarded the Theatre Library Associations’s national Richard Wall Book Award for his book, “Empire of Dreams”!

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Best known as the director of such spectacular films as The Ten Commandments and King of Kings, Cecil B. DeMille lived a life as epic as any of his cinematic masterpieces.

As a child DeMille learned the bible from his father, a lay minister and playwright who introduced Cecil and his older brother, William, to the theater. Tutored by impresario David Belasco, DeMille discovered how audiences responded to showmanship: sets, lights, costumes, etc. He took this knowledge with him to Los Angeles in 1913, where he became one of the movie pioneers, in partnership with Jesse Lasky and Lasky’s brother-in-law Samuel Goldfish (later Goldwyn). Working out of a barn on streets fragrant with orange blossom and pepper trees, the Lasky company turned out a string of successful silents, most of them directed by DeMille, who became one of the biggest names of the silent era. With films such as The Squaw Man, Brewster’s Millions, Joan the Woman, and Don’t Change Your Husband, he was the creative backbone of what would become Paramount Studios. In 1923, he created the first version of The Ten Commandments, and later a second biblical epic, King of Kings, both enormous box-office successes.

Although his reputation rests largely on the biblical epics he made, DeMille’s personal life was no morality tale. He remained married to his wife, Constance, for more than 50 years, but for most of the marriage he had three mistresses simultaneously, all of whom worked for him. He showed great loyalty to a small group of actors who knew his style, but he also discovered some major stars, among them Gloria Swanson, Claudette Colbert, and later, Charlton Heston.

DeMille was one of the few silent-era directors who made a completely successful transition to sound. The Greatest Show on Earth won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1952. When he re-made The Ten Commandment in 1956, it was an even bigger hit than the silent version. In Billy Wilder’s classic film of the era, Sunset Boulevard, DeMille memorably played himself.\r\n\r\nIn the 1930s and 1940s, DeMille became a household name thanks to the “Lux Radio Theater,” which he hosted. But after falling out with a union, he gave up the program and his politics shifted to the right as he championed loyalty oaths and Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s anticommunist witch hunts.

As Scott Eyman brilliantly demonstrates in this superbly researched biography, which draws on a massive cache of DeMille family papers not available to previous biographers, DeMille was much more than his cliché image. A gifted director who worked in many genres; a devoted family man and loyal friend with a highly unconventional personal life; a pioneering filmmaker, DeMille comes alive in these pages, a legend whose spectacular career defined an era.\r\n\r\nRead the LA Times review here.’

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5 thoughts on “Books by Scott Eyman

  1. Finally got around to reading EMPIRE OF DREAMS, great book! EMPIRE OF DREAMS told me everything I wanted to know about C.B. DeMille and his movies – I can highly recommend this book!

  2. Dear Scott, I am watching the Robert Wagner interview and I think he is great. Are you a fan of Jerry Lewis? I am doing a 50th anniversary screening of THE FAMILY JEWELS. It will take place on July 1, 2015 at 6:30 pm at the NYPL and it is FREE. I would like to get a quote from Mr. Wagner on his feelings of Jerry Lewis and his career. The event is only 2 weeks away. If you could forward this to him, I would appreciate it. Regards, Ron MacCloskey Writer/Producer JERRY LEWIS: “He Makes Me Laugh” 732-925-6089

  3. Thanks for the John Wayne biography.  I know it took years of work to bring such a figure comprehensively to the pages.
    Sorry to say I will not be reading any of your other books.  Here’s why…


    p.62  Coconut grove fire !  No explanation!
    p.114  “…bringing the two warring men together”  WHAT OTHER MAN?
    — Wayne indulging himself with actresses for years (YOU LEFT THAT OUT!)
    p.115  Michael’s dad (Who is Michael at this point? CONFUSING WORDING!)
    p.155  ”
    p.169  “as late as 1953”
    Read the proceeding paragraph and explain how that follows?!
    p.169  African American
    p.184  production creative
    p.209  hills NOT mtns!
    one of whose employees?  WHOSE employees at “a party”?!
    – not one sentence of what The Quiet Man is about
    p.228  what tag line from 60 yrs ago isn’t?!
    p.236  1:85 is flat!
    p.269  MacMurray not big enough physically?  Not big enough star you should write!
    p.290  about writers and their salary then out of nowhere actors salaries come back in same paragraph!
    p.294  after all the emphasis on WWII (Pacific theatre no less), not one sentence regarding shooting in Japan and this unusual interest in Japanese culture even by Wayne.  Completely remiss!
    p.332  why explain at this very late stage what rentals are after previously bringing them up countless times in all the biz dealings? 
    p.344  after the 1.2M from re-release, 1M from TV sale not 2M would be coincidence, only off by 100% in that sale for your jackass coincidence reference!
    p.409  completely unclear if you are talking about directors using him badly or critics, seems critics but critics don’t use actors 
    p.411  yet again in varying up wording regarding his family you are utterly confusing!  is his second family the same as the children with his third wife?  Yeah guess so.
    p.414  says conversely (a word you misused before) he was hard to shop for then you immediately give an example of the opposite, of him happily accepting the gift!
    p.432  Why would you wait to reveal the deal with Universal until the second picture?  
    p.465  Dean Martin – Eli Whitney – Cotton Gin – get it?  NO, WTF?  He was famous for loving gin drinks I guess?  Not common knowledge.  Are you writing a serious bio or inconsistently devolving into wink wink casual conversation?!
    p.474  Carey/Dobe utterly unclear when you switch from one name to other in next sentence (confusing since his father was famous too) then you too late explain the name, doing it twice obviously by mistake.  Then your Red Man sentence is completely confounded!
    p.492  You carelessly don’t explain gross after previously having explained rentals.  Wayne got 10% of gross for “The Train Robbers”, so if that film made 4.6 million in rentals plus the 1.5 foreign, then its gross was about double that, therefore Wayne made at least a million on that picture, a lot for the time and for a film that was considered a definite failure!  You are utterly negligent in not pointing that out, or you don’t even understand the difference between rentals and gross yourself?  The entire book seems to cite rental figures, fine.  But if you cite Wayne’s deal being gross, you can’t then drop the ball on what that means!
    p.505  John Wayne did not hand Cooper the Oscar on stage (this is not necessarily a mistake though since it may mean it was privately?  Should be clear though)
    p.508  You have to include Schary’s years of tenure here for this story!
    p.520  “My greatest creative contribution…”  Who the fuck is saying this?  The agent or you the author?  Throughout you wedge yourself in, but you do it so seldom it is always awkward and in this case completely confusing as so much of your writing in this book is!
    p.552  “The Deer Hunter” while maybe anti-war was the conservative Vietnam War movie that year, while “Coming Home” was the liberal one and there was a deep divide between proponents of each picture, so if anything Wayne would have been glad it won over the other.  Your injection of your opinion here is based on ignorance about that year’s Best Picture Oscar race.  How much other opinion is your’s in the book and based on shoddy research, knowledge of events, views and otherwise?
    p.569  How you can mention the titles you did and leave out “Dances With Wolves” which is a great western, and is certainly a ‘western’, one that is leagues above the lame “Open Range”.  But that’s your opinion.  The big problem is you blatantly state your opinions on all these more recent westerns which in most cases certainly is not the general consensus.  There is no place for that in a biography like this!  While I agree with some of your other opinions which are contrary to popular opinion, yes Django is embarrassingly over-rated, and the True Grit remake is over-rated, yet both were nominated as Best Picture.  
    What a cheap shot to both Jeff Bridges and Nick Nolte and ridiculous!  He was also nominated, so unless the actors branch has no credibility… even if they don’t anymore, that is a stupid low blow from a sloppy writer whose “opinion” is utterly inappropriate in a final analysis of westerns long since the subject.

     (also your paragraph structure was suspect in many, many instances)

    I send this as constructive criticism, and your editor should receive it as well because he’s too sloppy for the job.  You may disagree with a few items but most are undeniable flaws in the writing.  An endeavor this large is sure to have imperfections, but put it this way:  I read Neal Gabler’s Disney biography (equally iconic American film artist, same period, about same length epic book) and there was not a single sentence that didn’t make sense or was calling out for omitted information.  If I was at all confused anywhere, upon re-reading realized it was my mistake.  His work didn’t have so much as a typo in the entirety of over 600 pages.
    There is no excuse for not carefully proof reading for typos and more importantly for outright errors in facts and in clarity!  Rewrites solve omissions and confusing wording or structure as well.  You know this.

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