Charles Fleming

High Concept: Don Simpson and the Hollywood Culture of Excess


Total Film
Once every blue moon comes a book about Hollywood so jaw-droppingly monstrous that you're left reeling. High Concept is that book. It contains the most sensationalist Tinseltown revelations of the last 20 years.

Library Journal
Contemporary Hollywood takes it on the chin ... Fleming, who has written extensively on Hollywood for Variety, Newsweek, and Entertainment Weekly, tells the sordid story of producer Don Simpson, who helped create a string of blockbusters (Flashdance, Beverly Hills Cop, Top Gun) and whose box office figures gave new meaning to the phrase "gross receipts." Simpson died in January 1996 at the age of 52; his heart gave out after years of crash dieting, drugs, alcohol, and disfiguring plastic surgery. Fleming spares few of the gory details of Simpson's decline, and he's quick to tie his lifestyle up with that of other Hollywood miscreants like Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Farley.

New York Times
Like a Jackie Collins novel with footnotes.

Kirkus Reviews
Lots of sex, lots of drugs, and even a little rock 'n' roll ... There's something for every scandal lover in this rollicking, dirt-dishing account of the life and times of Hollywood producer Don Simpson. Movie insiders credit Simpson with inventing high-concept movies - the action-packed, loud, flashy, simplistic, but tightly structured films, that crowd the multiplexes every summer. With his producing partner, Jerry Bruckheimer, he certainly hauled in great gusts of money with films such as Flashdance, Top Gun, and Crimson Tide. Simpson's life was as big and in-your-face as his creations. He hit Hollywood as a junior studio executive and quickly climbed the corporate ladder. But his increasingly public drug habit eventually got him fired. Financially, this was the best thing that ever happened to him. He and Bruckheimer teamed up as independent producers and began to crank out the movies that would make them feared and loathed and celebrated. If anything, success upped the ante of Simpson's misbehavior - from even more drugs to a constant stream of hookers to epic mistreatment of subordinates. But the powerful absolution of success kept him working until his heart gave out when he was 52. In his first book, Fleming, a former staff writer for Variety and Newsweek, (presents) enough juicy, original tidbits to slake all but the most jaded prurient appetites.

Selected Works

Non-fiction, biography
The heart-breaking, award-winning National Public Radio story of childhood lobotomy survivor Howard Dully, now grippingly told in book form.
Explosive story of 1950s Las Vegas; "Impressive, sure-bet thriller,"
Pre-Castro Cuba catches fire in this sequel to The Ivory Coast.
Nicky Deuce returns with more meatballs and mayhem.
Thrilling young adult adventure story for boys and girls aged 8 to 18.
Riveting autobiographical story of the chief who caught the DC snipers
How to live like a guy from the neighborhood ...
How to make amore like a guy from the neighborhood ...
The fast life and ugly death of Hollywood's most notorious film producer
Travel Essay
Ten damp days in Havana