Can I Go Now?: The Life Of Sue Mengers, Hollywood's First Superagent by Brian KellowCan I Go Now?: The Life Of Sue Mengers, Hollywood's First Superagent by Brian Kellow

Can I Go Now?: The Life Of Sue Mengers, Hollywood's First Superagent

byBrian Kellow

Paperback | September 6, 2016

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“To call Sue Mengers a ‘character’ is an understatement, unless the word is written in all-caps, followed by an exclamation point and modified by an expletive. And based on Brian Kellow’s assessment in his thoroughly researched Can I Go Now? even that description may be playing down her personality a bit.” —Jen Chaney, The Washington Post

• A NY Times Culture Bestseller An Entertainment Weekly Best Pop Culture Book of 2015 • A Booklist Top Ten Arts Book of 2015 

A lively and colorful biography of Hollywood’s first superagent—one of the most outrageous showbiz characters of the 1960s and 1970s whose clients included Barbra Streisand, Ryan O’Neal, Faye Dunaway, Michael Caine, and Candice Bergen

Before Sue Mengers hit the scene in the mid-1960s, talent agents remained quietly in the background. But staying in the background was not possible for Mengers. Irrepressible and loaded with chutzpah, she became a driving force of Creative Management Associates (which later became ICM) handling the era’s preeminent stars.

A true original with a gift for making the biggest stars in Hollywood listen to hard truths about their careers and personal lives, Mengers became a force to be reckoned with. Her salesmanship never stopped. In 1979, she was on a plane that was commandeered by a hijacker, who wanted Charlton Heston to deliver a message on television. Mengers was incensed, wondering why the hijacker wanted Heston, when she could get him Barbra Streisand.

Acclaimed biographer Brian Kellow spins an irresistible tale, exhaustively researched and filled with anecdotes about and interviews more than two hundred show-business luminaries. A riveting biography of a powerful woman that charts show business as it evolved from New York City in the 1950s through Hollywood in the early 1980s, Can I Go Now? will mesmerize anyone who loves cinema’s most fruitful period.

From the Hardcover edition.
Brian Kellow is the author of Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark; Ethel Merman: A Life; The Bennetts: An Acting Family and the coauthor of Can’t Help Singing: The Life of Eileen Farrell. His articles have appeared in Vanity Fair, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Observer, Opera, and other publications. Kellow lives in New York City.
Title:Can I Go Now?: The Life Of Sue Mengers, Hollywood's First SuperagentFormat:PaperbackDimensions:336 pages, 8.3 × 5.5 × 0.7 inPublished:September 6, 2016Publisher:Penguin Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0143108875

ISBN - 13:9780143108870


Editorial Reviews

“Even the brightest star is occasionally eclipsed by a moon. Sue Mengers was a moon. . . . Kellow is the first to pull back the caftan, to consider what really made Mengers Mengers. He has made a specialty of forceful showbiz women—previous subjects include Pauline Kael and Ethel Merman—and she fits easily into that pantheon. . . . [Mengers] came of age as the moving pictures, and seemingly the world, burst into Technicolor. Kellow vividly renders this time of alliterative rat-a-tat names begat of the typewriter—Boaty Boatwright, Freddie Fields, Lionel Larner, Maynard Morris—and restaurants that treated regulars like family: Downey’s and Lindy’s and Sardi’s. . . . [a] reflective and soulful book.” —Alexandra Jacobs, The New York Times Book Review   “To call Sue Mengers a ‘character’ is an understatement, unless the word is written in all-caps, followed by an exclamation point and modified by an expletive. And based on Brian Kellow’s assessment in his thoroughly researched Can I Go Now? even that description may be playing down her personality a bit. Gutsy, pushy and savvy, Mengers was the take-no-b.s. power agent for many of Hollywood’s boldest bold-faced names in the late 1960s and the ’70s. . . . Can I Go Now?—a title inspired by something Mengers often said to cut short conversations—offers plenty of dishy, inside-’70s-Hollywood stories, including tales from those soirees at her Beverly Hills home. . . . Kellow doesn’t shy away from highlighting her negative traits as well, qualities that often worked at odds with her strongest attributes.” —Jen Chaney, The Washington Post“Picture Joan Rivers with less of a filter, bulldozer-setting ramped up to 12, shpritzing venom alongside comic abuse. Imagine that, and you’ll start to get a vague idea of the lioness named Sue Mengers. . . . [Kellow’s] book is immensely readable and full of dish.” —Scott Eyman, The Wall Street Journal   “Super-agent Sue Mengers handled some of the hottest stars in Hollywood. . . . Brian Kellow’s new biography, Can I Go Now? derives its title from one of her favorite ways to end a phone call. As one of the most powerful agents in Hollywood for two decades—Time magazine described her as a ‘cross between Mama Cass and Mack the Knife’—Mengers was uncensored. She also was a skilled negotiator. And a trail blazer for women in the male-dominated field.” —Susan King, The Los Angeles Times  “Mengers was the first woman to amass the sort of power she did, representing Barbra Streisand, Gene Hackman, Michael Caine, Candice Bergen, Ryan O’Neal, Mike Nichols and so many more. But Mengers, as this insightful, often hilarious and celebrity-filled book relates, was a mass of contradictions.” —Larry Getlen, New York Post“[Kellow] brings her rollicking personality to life with outrageous anecdotes while pointing out the behaviors that doomed her. . . . In the 1990s, she walked into a party, looked around and muttered to her companions, 'Schindler's B-list.' Her biography, however, is A-list all the way.”—Paul Teetor, LA Weekly “‘Colorful’ is the kind of code word one uses when actual examples can’t be published in a review. Kellow fills his lively book Can I Go Now? with enough ribald tales of Mengers being ‘colorful’ to fill a crayon box. That she could be endearing as well as rude and insulting to the people she represented is surprising—and just one aspect of a fascinating personality Kellow places squarely in the context of the way the movie business worked at that time.. . . . Kellow give[s] Mengers the place in Hollywood history that she deserves.” —Douglass K. Daniel, The Associated Press“Before there was Ovitz or Ari, there was Sue Mengers. During the peak of her clout in the 1970s, the brash barrier-breaker helped popularize the idea of the Hollywood super-agent. The media lapped up her comic crudity . . . her legendary dinner parties attracted Tinseltown’s A-list, and 60 Minutes came calling to do a lengthy interview that captured Mengers dishing and deal-making. . . . She didn’t believe in gussying up hard truths and could be brutally candid with her clients. That lost her some accounts . . . but it also earned her respect. ‘Everyone prized her honesty,’ Kellow said. ‘In a town like Hollywood, that’s hard to come by. . . . She was a scrutinizing, tough Jewish mama.’” —Brent Lang, Variety“An absorbing read.”—Clark Collis, Entertainment Weekly“With his new book Can I Go Now?, Brian Kellow follows up his 2011 biography of film critic iconoclast Pauline Kael by telling the story of Sue Mengers, ‘the first enormously successful female agent in the movie industry.’ As the representative for many of the major players of the day . . . Mengers helped to define a new concept of Hollywood stardom for a new, post-studio system era. Mengers also set a new standard for female power in the workplace, with a brash, inimitable style that mixed sweet talk and harassment, employing ‘feminine wiles’ more often than not as a weapon. . . . The story of how a strong woman steamrolled through the Hollywood glass ceiling is an important one, but what makes Can I Go Now? worth reading is its careful chronicling of what happens after the glass shatters, and that woman has to figure out how to stay on top without revealing her wounds.” —Karina Longworth, Slate“A minor masterpiece of Hollywood history in its most exciting, glamorous, and gossip-wise period.”—Liz Smith, New York Social Diary“Mengers was a complicated, powerful trailblazer, one who barged down doors for women and changed the nature of the talent-agent business. Kellow's absorbing biography not only peels back the layers to reveal the true nature of this fascinating individual but also delves deeply into the film industry in the latter half of the twentieth century.”—Booklist (starred review)“Effortlessly readable, especially for Vanity Fair enthusiasts and film buffs.”—Library Journal“From the 1950s through the 1980s, Sue Mengers represented some of the most famous names in show business. . . . [The agent’s] coveted gatherings, her bawdy appearances at premieres and nightclubs, and a profile in Vanity Fair made her as recognizable as her glamorous roster of actors, and she worked tirelessly to promote them—not just to get them parts, but also higher and higher salaries. . . . Kellow, an admirer of Mengers’ spunk and achievements, serves her well in this deft, entertaining biography.”—Kirkus Reviews  Praise for Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark   “[A] smart and incisive biography. . . . [Moviegoers] are in for a colossal eye-opening. [Kael’s] love for film has no present-day counterpart. . . . Mr. Kellow’s clear, independent view of his subject is his book’s most valuable surprise. . . . Kael liked to disparage what she called ‘saphead objectivity.’ Bur Mr. Kellow is no saphead, and he makes objectivity a great virtue.” —Janet Maslin, The New York Times (Editors’ Choice)   “Illuminating.” —The New Yorker (Reviewers’ favorites from 2011)   “[An] entertaining and insightful biography, as much a study of her criticism as a narrative of her life. . . . [Pauline] Kael emerges from [Kellow’s] biography as a great cinematic character, a kind of Citizen Kane, with a life lived and shaped by the dark.” —Elaine Showalter, The Times Literary Supplement   “A smart and eminently readable examination of the life and career of one of the twentieth century’s most influential movie critics.” — Los Angeles Times (blog)   “To appreciate Kael’s trailblazing, you have to see it in its broader context. Luckily, that backdrop is filled in with sure-footed sophistication by Brian Kellow in Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark, a fair-minded and deeply reported Kael biography.” — Frank Rich, The New York Times Book Review   “[A] rich, thorough, and admirably fair biography.” —Entertainment Weekly (Best Nonfiction Books of 2011)   “[Pauline Kael] got into my bloodstream more than any other critic. So I have been waiting most of my life for a smart, insightful biography like [Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark] to take me beyond and beneath the hypnotic thrill of her prose.” —Ben Brantley, The New York Times (Critics’ Picks)From the Hardcover edition.