Independent Thinker

A review by Maureen Callahan - January 22nd, 1996

You don't know his name, but deal-maker-investor-adviser John Pierson has been significantly responsible for the commercial successes of such groundbreaking first-time efforts as She's Gotta Have It, The Thin Blue Line, Roger & Me, and Clerks and has detailed his indie-scene war stories In his first book, Spike, Mike, Slackers & Dykes: A Guided Tour Across a Decade of American Independent Cinema (Hyperion, $22.95). Though pathologically obsessed with movies (he got married at Film Forum, for instance), Pierson is also a shrewd, astute businessman with an eye for prodigious talent who has made-or cops to-only one major misstep: an investment in 1993's Amongst Friends. In his most gleefully malicious chapter, "Amongst Jerks," he confirms nasty rut mors about director Rob Weiss falling asleep on set, and details Weiss's infantile temper tantrums and hilarious posturing. Unfortunately, Pierson doesn't dig as deeply to shape his other characterizations; opinionated director Spike Lee, Pierson's hero, comes off as practically meek. Still, Pierson nicely parallels his own experiences with the burgeoning independent scene (as the studios' desire for young, cheap talent grew, so did his influence), discloses deal-making strategy, and gives sensible advice to the young aspirant, only occasionally betraying his true identity: a geek in awe of celebrity (he writes, a bit enviously, of director Kevin Smith's "getting" to meet someone from Duran Duran) who has made quite a living off his myopia.

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