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Essay On "Death By Hollywood" By Steven Bochco, A Study In Dramatic Irony

1353 words - 5 pages

Essay on Death by Hollywoodby Steven BochcoStudent: Eric KasumAdvisor: Rachel PollackGoddard CollegeFebruary 21, 2004 - Winter/SpringDeath by Hollywood, a novel by Steven Bochco, is a study in the use of irony. Unfortunately, the legendary creator of cop shows like Hill Street Blues and L.A. Law probably shouldn't have tried to write a novel. Death is a strange book to read, with almost no literary devices, virtually no visual or sensual description. It reads like a pitch meeting in the office of a producer that was simply transcribed. One assumes the camera will show it all later. But in one way, Death by Hollywood is extraordinary. It's use of irony.With Bochco, there's always a lot of good/bad happening simultaneously. It's a rich experience. You get a tingle of excitement, a sense of secretly enjoying something forbidden, like eating a whole pint of Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie all by yourself, then stuffing the container into the bottom of the trash can and washing the spoon off so no one will ever know.The story is Hitchcock's Rear Window with a twist. The narrator of the story is Eddie Jelko, a Hollywood agent, but the voice is all Bochco (raunchy, cynical, clever, blunt, outrageous, insightful). Jelko tells us about Bobby Newman, one of his screenwriter clients, who's fingers are spending more time wrapped around a bottle than tapping on a keyboard these days (by the way, the whole book is written in present tense, which is important to note). Bored, sloshed, spying on his neighbors through a telescope, Bobby sees the wife of a Hollywood billionaire having wild, animal sex with her Latin lover. They quarrel, she smacks him on the head with a golden acting statue, and Bingo! Bobby has the plot for the screenplay that's going to save his career.Does he call 911? Of course not! Bobby puts on rubber gloves, rushes to the murder scene, sees the bloody body, and discovers a secret cache of videos. Voila! The first irony: The Latin lover has been recording all his sexual escapades, unbeknownst to his partners. What's more, his wild romp with the billionaire's wife - and the murder itself - are recorded on video tape. The second irony: Bobby finds a video of his own wife, Vee, who's been having an affair! The actor has graded her sexual performance. His handwritten notes about Bobby's wife:"Oral, screamer, B+."Are you feeling that tingle yet? That's Bochco's touch. Aside from the obvious irony of an actor being murdered with his own Oscar, or Tony, or whatever it is, Steven Bochco's novel is a brilliant study in the use of dramatic irony.Bobby arranges to have lunch with the billionaire's wife, Linda Paulson. As they eat and talk, he knows she's the murderer, but she doesn't know he knows. Our emotional reaction to every word they say, every nuance of eye and lip and hand, is deeper, more complex. Bobby wines and dines her and becomes her new lover. Bochco's cynical voice is a delight: "Linda Paulson's around 40 years old, except for...

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