A fast-talking wise-ass from the Bronx, Jerry Weintraub became a millionaire at 26 by handling some of the biggest acts in show biz, most famously Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra. The last of the great Hollywood moguls, Jerry is probably best known as the producer of such classic films as Nashville, Diner, Oh, God! and The Karate Kid, as well as the more recent Oceans 11, 12, and 13, which have together grossed over a billion dollars. Less celebrated, however, is Jerry's work behind the scenes as confidant to presidents and titans of finance. As he sees it, 'There is no difference between politics and Hollywood. The world is very small when you get to the top.' George H. W. Bush, George Clooney, and country singer George Strait all have Jerry on speed-dial - because Jerry is the guy you call when you want what money can't buy. The stories he tells and the lessons we learn are essential ones, not only for film buffs and music fans, but for businessmen, entrepreneurs, artists, or anyone at all who's ever had a dream and the moxie to make it happen.
A couple of weeks ago I received a copy of Jerry Weintraub’s When I Stop Talking, You'll Know I'm Dead. Was it worth reading?
There’s nothing much to say about the design. The printing is okay, and the few photographs included in the book (among them one with Elvis) are on glossy paper.
To be honest I intended to thumb through the book and read just the passages on Elvis. During the first chapter the book caught me, so the original intention was dropped and I found myself reading the whole thing.
The style is fast, the stories are funny. Sometimes you get the feeling the man has a huge ego, but on the other hand… he made it, several times.
Two of the Elvis-related anecdotes are somehow disappointing, since they make you wonder what’s true of the remaining of the book.
The first is about Kui Lee, Weintraub had the rights of one of his songs, recorded by Elvis and after his success by many other greats… Blue Hawaii. As supposedly nearly every Elvis fan knows, Kui Lee’s song is I’ll Remember You and can hardly be called a hit record. That Weintraub makes this mistake after all those years might be understandable, but his ghostwriter should have checked it… Wikipedia is more than enough!
The other is about Weintraub buying scarves and not selling them at the stands during a concert. According to Weintraub Elvis asked the audience to buy the scarves so he could see them wave. I wonder if Elvis would ever do this, even if he wanted to help a friend, but Weintraub named the show by date… New Year’s Eve 1975. Of course I have the CD of this Pontiac show and nowhere I can hear Elvis ask so, he is talking about his suit, but not scarves.
The third part on Elvis is about the phone call Weintraub received when Elvis died.
It was a fun read, certainly worth the time. Unfortunately I have my doubts on the reliability of the book… Well, there is probably a touch of truth and I might be looking for slugs at low tide, as we say in Holland…