Books: His Instincts Are Basic

Hollywood's most notorious screenwriter tells all. You may find yourself wishing he had held back

It's O.K. to be curious about Joe Eszterhas' memoir, Hollywood Animal (Knopf; 736 pages). Really. It's perfectly natural. After all, Eszterhas is the most (or maybe the only) famous screenwriter in the business, best known for hitting commercial gold in 1983 with Flashdance and again in 1992 with Basic Instinct. He also has several notorious craters to his credit, including Jade and Showgirls. But a word of advice: given its ample girth and its very low signal-to-noise ratio, you might want to approach Hollywood Animal with this handy guide.

The first chapter? Skip it. Here's a sample: After producer Robert Evans...

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