Cover Image: Burn It Down

Burn It Down

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Burn It Down: Power, Complicity, and a Call for Change in Hollywood was a great read by Maureen Ryan. In this book veteran reporter Maureen Ryan looks closely as to the abuses in the entertainment industry. This shed light on problematic situations at different companies in Hollywood. I loved reading her reporting and can’t wait to read more by the author.

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Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing an advance copy of this title in exchange for honest feedback. A very important look at the toxicity in hollywood and how we can change it.

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DNF. Though the subject matter is important, this book was a miss for me. I didn't really like the conversational writing style and I found it pretty repetitive. I did find it fascinating to consider what a glossy sheen Hollywood puts on the notorious behavior of some and how that attitude is present in so many workplaces, even beyond the entertainment industry.

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My absolute favorite nonfiction subgenre is entertainment business and history (especially when it’s written by a journalist I admire) so I snapped this one up when it was available on NetGalley and devoured it!

Admittedly, it’s a niche pick, but a truly fascinating exploration of power abuses in Hollywood outside of the MeToo movement. Ryan explores a variety of topics from pay inequity to toxic work environments to the ongoing lack of diversity in the highest (and lowest) levels of many studios. The stories shared in this book also provide some surprisingly timely context to the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes in the entertainment industry.

This book is very readable, even if you don’t follow Hollywood headlines very closely, as many of the larger themes are relevant in other industries as well. For those that don’t have an entertainment background, Ryan provides relevant details for each topic, and includes some impressive interviews. While each chapter builds to the larger thesis, they can also be read on their own and feel like mini magazine articles. I’d highly recommend this for anyone looking to learn more about the realities of the entertainment industry.

Burn It Down is out now. Thanks to Mariner Books and NetGalley for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.

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I was so excited to be able to read this book. It’s an amazing and different take on Hollywood. Split into two sections, the first without a doubt is five stars. The second part personally I enjoyed less but overall this book is a must read.

It begins with a chapter on Scott Rubin - this was more than I had known and appreciate the stories being brought together. Combining that with the lack of comments from many A listers was astounding. This certainly happens in many industries. “As long as it’s not physical abuse it’s okay” is so messed up

The second chapter goes into the experience of writers, so if you want to know more about the writers strike and streaming - this is why. I didn’t know that you didn’t get paid for the pitches you write for example.

Lost, SNL, many people and shows are mentioned and it goes into great detail, and is well researched. The author speaks from their own experiences throughout which makes the book even that much more meaningful.

Thank you NetGalley for the ARC!

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This book was a bit heavier than I expected based on the Vanity Fair profile, but it was clearly so well researched and articulated a needed message.

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Very thorough reporting and lots of author personality! Enjoyed very much and wanted to uncover more that the author says she had to cut because of sourcing/protecting identities/etc. Would read more!

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Maureen Ryan had me at Killjoys. If you have not seen the wonderfully ridiculous sci-fi show then please do so once this review is finished. While this seems like a weird reason to be won over by a book, it actually makes perfect sense when you think about it. A book about burning down the Hollywood system would be an absolute slog if the person approached it from a place of anger. As soon as Ryan mentioned Killjoys, I knew she actually loved what Hollywood puts out. She just hates what it takes to get things made.

For anyone who reads the description of Burn It Down, you may initially think this is going to be another long list of terrible events within the Hollywood system. You may also be the type who doesn't want to read about someone's "agenda." What I would tell you is that this is an in-depth look by someone who has spent significant time around show business, made the connections necessary to build a massive narrative, and then created a viewpoint which is not a witch hunt but a search for institutional change. This book is not about crucifying white men. It is about crucifying a system which routinely rewards bad behavior by giving people power they do not wield benevolently.

Guess what else this book has? Numbers! Yes, it is not all anecdotes of terrible behavior. There are numbers which bear out what Ryan is trying to say. And then, the coup de grace. A plan. Ryan has a plan with articulated ways to fix the system. I came for the gory details. I stayed for the well thought out action plan.

However, all of this could have been a much different book without Ryan's love for what Hollywood puts out. There are not many books where the author lets you know which Muppet she most identifies with. I won't spoil it. It's too good. You should definitely read this book and find out, though.

(This book was provided as an advance copy by Netgalley and Mariner Books. The full review will be posted to on 6/6/2023.)

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Eye-opening and searing expose of the truly bad players in power. The first half lays everything bare, and the second offers paths to change and reconciliation.
Well-written but probably could have been edited a bit more carefully. Passages often felt repetitive.

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It's hard to even come up with the right words to talk about this deeply excellent book. The title might make it sound like a salacious expose - and in some ways, it certainly is - but it's much more than that. It's the kind of book that fills you with fury over the way that the most human, soulful things we can do - produce art and tell stories - have been twisted into hostile environments, exacerbated by greed and selfishness.

If you've been paying attention to movies, TV, and entertainment at all over the last decade-ish, you've probably heard some scuttlebutt about some of the stories told in this book. Whatever you've heard, I promise, is nothing compared to what the very talented Maureen Ryan uncovers. Interviews with a wide swath of writers, producers, actors, directors, and other creatives reveal the devastating and anger-inducing realities that went on behind the scenes of some of the best-known pop culture properties of the past several years. The chapter on LOST has already gone viral; the chapter on SLEEPY HOLLOW is less likely to, since the show was less of a hit, but my goodness, it will make you even more frustrated and upset.

It's not all gloom and doom, though. It's also a portrait of many, many people who care deeply about the industry, about pushing for things to be better, and about telling stories in ways that respect everyone: the viewers, the characters, and the people who do the storytelling on and off camera. It's a must read for anyone who wants to understand "how we got here", especially now, against the backdrop of at least one (and possibly two) Hollywood strikes.

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The author is not afraid to name names in this comprehensive look at the abuses of power in Hollywood. Because of the intensity of the subject matter, it is not a quick read – I needed to take breaks and pauses from reading about all of harassment and bullying done by those in power and a culture and environment that protects these perpetrators. A real sobering look behind-the-scenes of movies, TV shows (from “Lost” to “SNL”) and at the end of the book she outlines recommendations on how to combat this. One of my favorite ideas was the “Al Capone Theory of Sexual Harassment” – meaning, if you dig deeper there might be other wrong-doing since often the perpetrator feels entitled and that the rules don’t apply to them. So just as Al Capone was investigated for masterminding gang wars, he also evaded taxes – and that is what ultimately brought him down. Thank you to the author and others she interviewed for having the courage to speak truth to power!

Thank you to Netgalley and Mariner for an ARC and I left this review voluntarily.

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This book was both interesting an enraging. It told so many untold stories of power and abuse in Hollywood, and I feel weird saying it was a good book because of so many awful things that were exposed in it. But it was a good book that should make people think

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My thanks to both NetGalley and the publisher Mariner Books for an advance copy of this book that looks at what the Hollywood power structure it, and how it treats women, minorities, and everybody considered not important.

Hollywood on paper sounds like a wonderful place to work. To see and aid in the development of one's favorite shows, to even make something new, that people could discuss and share, and maybe even make a few dollars too. A place that hard work and a good idea, might get a person that Hollywood ending. Well as with everything in Hollywood appearance is everything. Add to that the physical and mental abuse, the terrible hours, the demands for work with little or no pay, and what once sounded like a wonderful dream is more a nightmare in Los Angeles. Burn It Down by veteran chronicler of the seediness of the Hollywood machine, Maureen Ryan, is a look at a broken system that rewards the worst behaviors, while ignoring women and minorities. Along with efforts that are being made to try and enact change in a system that is very resistant.

The book begins with a brief history of a young man who was an assistant to a powerful man IN Hollywood Scot Rudin, whose temper tantrums, and object tossing was legendary. However not legendary enough to make some of the biggest names and largest studios to stop working for him. What follows are many interviews with people who have seen the worst that Hollywood can be. From writers who were ignored because of their skin colors or sex, actresses who labeled difficult, derailing their careers, and others in various occupations in Hollywood. Ryan also does a lot of investigating finding stories thought lost, ignored or covered-up and brings them back into light. Shows like Sleepy Hollow even the venerable Saturday Night Live are looked at in a different way than many profiles have, finding a lot of nastiness, and even worse that is still allowed to continue. Ryan also looks at efforts to both report and change the system, though it looks like quite a Sisyphean task. Ryan talks to a lot of people, some wo don't want to be identified, but those that do speak honestly about what has happened, what they have seen, and how they are trying to change things.

Reading this book is like engaging in a twelve round heavyweight fight. The ugliness of the system, what is allowed is draining on the mind and the soul. However this is an important book for that reason. One can't just passively sit enjoying an entertainment knowing what is happening behind the scenes. Ryan is a very good writer, one I have enjoyed reading over the years, and her rage, and passion for change are apparant one every page. Ryan talks about burning it all to the ground, and honestly many readers will help fill the bottles with gasoline. And yet there is hope. There seems to be at least the start of something, not much, but it is gaining in momentum. The last half of the book details this, along with many good ideas that any reasonable corporation could get behind. Most of what goes on is what has always gone on, and as long as the money is coming in, there is no real reason to change.

A very interesting and disturbing book, one that speaks more about corporate American than anything else. Recommended for readers of Hollywood, women and minorities rights. Also this would be a good gift for people who want to write in Hollywood, or just create something new. The book is a guide to how to do things fair and right. And how to create great things.

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I was excited to read this book but it was definitely too long and detailed for me. Many will appreciate it but I was looking for more general info with some examples. It’ll be interesting to see how the industry evolves over time now knowing that there is alot going on behind the scenes.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity in exchange for an honest review.

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A harrowing, somewhat gossipy take on the toxicity of Hollywood.

In the first half, Ryan, who has spent decades as a pop culture writer for various outlets, dives into abusive tv show sets, power imbalances, and the experiences of actors (among others) named and unnamed. It really makes you question everything you've ever loved to watch.

The second half felt a little disconnected and geared more towards the creatives who work on said shows. It was interesting to learn everything their unions can and should do to remedy problems, but it wasn't as compelling as specific incidences detailed earlier on.

For those who are super, super into Hollywood and the mess it constantly makes.

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I really enjoyed the way Maureen Ryan wrote this, it was informative and never boring to read. I thought it was well-written and I was hooked from the first chapter. I thought it worked well and can't wait to read more Maureen Ryan.

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The title truly tells it all! I want to scream it from the rooftops!

I knew I would like this book, what I didn't know is that I would LOVE IT.
This is not a #metoo only story. Maureen Ryan, a well known entertainment reporter is diving deep into the structure of Hollywood and the entertainment industry to expose the treatment of women, of people of color and of all workers who are not at the top of the power pyramid.

Ryan interviews many, MANY well known and lesser known persons and provides many first hand accounts of abuse. SNL and Lucasfilm are at the forefront, along with a few shows that I am not that familiar with such as : The Goldbergs, Lost, Sleepy Hollow, Curb Your Enthusiasm and more.

If you are interested in the stars, here are a few: Evan Rachel Wood, Harold Perrineau, Damon Lindelof, Colin Jost and Orlando Jones. Ryan dispels myths and provides more information regarding rumors you have read about or snippets or stories you have heard.

Best yet, not only does she peel back the layers, but she provides solutions. I don't usually bookmark much on my kindle but there were countless sentences and paragraphs that I want to reread and requote in other contexts. A true work of a lifetime and fabulous. I would recommend this book HIGHLY for anyone interested in Hollywood, the infrastructure of power and systematic racism and sexism. It will truly blow you away!
. #MarinerBooks #BURNITDOWN #MaureenRyan

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