Ryan Murphy’s ‘Hollywood’ trailer exposes sleazy history of movie industry
A prostitution ring run out of a gas station. Naked pool parties held by prominent directors. Shocking racism in the casting of major motion pictures.
If any of these scenarios tickle your fancy, dive head first into the new trailer released Monday for Ryan Murphy’s “Hollywood,” a dark look at young actors and aspiring filmmakers trying to make it big in the post-World War II era.
The seven-part Netflix series, which debuts May 1, takes us back to the bad old days when gay actors had to live in the closet, casting directors deliberately chose white actors to play ethnic roles rather than risk losing precious distribution in select portions of the US, and the best way to get ahead in your career was to assume the supine position — and collect a fee when climax had been achieved.
“Fifty percent of it is based on reality,” Murphy tells The Post. “The show is a blending of real-life people I’ve been obsessed with since I was kid. Anna May Wong. Hattie McDaniel. Rock Hudson. Vivien Leigh. George Cukor. All of their stories and almost all of the things that they’re involved with are pretty accurate and heavily researched. And then the fictionalized people around them, many of them are based on real-life characters.”
Failed actor Ernie (Dylan McDermott) runs a Hollywood gas station where regular customers pull up to the gas tanks and ask for a trip to Dreamland. That’s code for one of Ernie’s boys to get into the passenger seat and drive off to a rendezvous in a nearby hotel. Ernie’s got quite a stable of Pat Boone lookalikes ready to service ladies and gentleman. One of his new hires, Jack Castello (David Cornswet), happens to hook up with the neglected wife (Patti LuPone) of an adulterous studio head (Rob Reiner), and then a casting director at his studio, easing his way into the other side of the gate at Ace studios.
“Hollywood” liberally mixes fictional characters with real-life legends. The suicide of aspiring actress Peg Entwhistle, who jumped from the Hollywood sign over the lack of good parts, becomes the framework for an edgy screenplay written by a Hollywood outsider who just happens to be one of Ernie’s boys.
Rock Hudson (Jake Picking), then a struggling actor whose first screen test was so bad the crew had to go 27 takes before they could put enough decent footage together, is one of the clients at Ernie’s gas station. Forgotten actress Anna May Wong (Michelle Krusiec), who gave a stirring audition for the China-set film “The Good Earth” but lost the role to white actress Luise Rainer, who won the Best Actress Oscar, is another. Cameo appearances by Hattie McDaniel, Vivien Leigh, George Cukor, Noel Coward, Tallulah Bankhead and Cole Porter give you an idea of the breadth of Murphy’s tableau.
As Murphy did with “Feud,” his memorable FX series about the rivalry between Joan Crawford (Jessica Lange) and Bette Davis (Susan Sarandon), Murphy puts his own spin on Hollywood history. “I wanted to do a show about buried history,” he tells The Post. “I wanted to give people who were dealt a terrible hand by Hollywood and give them a happy ending.”
“Hollywood” stars Darren Criss, Jim Parsons, Holland Taylor and Joe Mantello, but also introduces several new faces to the Murphy cineworld, including breakout Jeremy Pope, Jake Picking, Laura Harrier, Maude Apatow and Mira Sorvino.
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