The Last Mogul (Life and Times of Lew Wasserman) (2005)



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Movie Info

For the second half of the 20th century, Lew Wasserman was the most powerful man in show business, even if most people had no idea who he was. Born in Cleveland, OH, in 1913, Wasserman started out booking music for mob-controlled night clubs, and soon became an agent for Music Corporation of America, which became the most lucrative music agency in America. As Wasserman rose through the ranks at MCA, he established such innovative business practices as "packaging" talent (booking hot acts only in tandem with other artists who were a harder sell) and took the company into managing acting talent in Hollywood, where he changed the film business forever by negotiating a ground-breaking deal for James Stewart on the film Winchester '73, which reduced the actor's up-front salary in favor of a cut of the movie's profits, earning the actor a fortune in the process. Under Wasserman's tenure at MCA, the company took over Universal Pictures, established the studio's television branch (and made enough powerful friends to make it the most important production outlet in the business), created the wildly successful Universal City studio tours, and expanded MCA's recording branch into one of the biggest record companies in the world. Wasserman was also a man with no small degree of political influence (it didn't hurt that Ronald Reagan was one of his early clients when MCA want Hollywood), and was reputed to have some useful connections to organized crime (his personal lawyer was reputed to be the model for Robert Duvall's character in The Godfather). Wasserman was a secretive man who did not give interviews or commit anything to writing if it could be avoided, but he knew nearly everyone of consequence in show business, and The Last Mogul: The Life and Times of Lew Wasserman is a documentary that through interviews with his friends and business associates paints a detailed portrait of his remarkable career, from his childhood in Ohio to his death in 2002.
Documentary , Television
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Critic Reviews for The Last Mogul (Life and Times of Lew Wasserman)

All Critics (16) | Top Critics (8)

Highly entertaining.

November 4, 2005
New York Post
Top Critic

Lew Wasserman, who rose from the streets of Cleveland to become the most powerful man in Hollywood, is the subject of this absorbing documentary.

Full Review… | November 4, 2005
New York Times
Top Critic

Avrich's Wasserman is less a man than a list of accomplishments, a Kane without a hint of a Rosebud and nary a whiff of significant criticism.

November 1, 2005
Village Voice
Top Critic

While indistinct stylistically and inconclusive biographically, The Last Mogul does have a certain allure.

Full Review… | July 29, 2005
Toronto Star
Top Critic

In covering so much acreage, Avrich has failed to dig deep for material that might have shed more light on Wasserman's ways.

Full Review… | July 29, 2005
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

A smart, well-paced documentary that balances the man's triumphs with his rare failures and discerningly explores the darker side of his power.

Full Review… | June 23, 2005
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Last Mogul (Life and Times of Lew Wasserman)


pretty dry through most of it, but it has enough historical nuggets and some not-always-kind words about Wasserman that keeps it interesting, mostly for film-buffs like myself.

Jack Gattanella
Jack Gattanella

One of the best documentaries out there on the inner workings of Hollywood. Any film lover should see what really goes on behind the scenes and this movie does exactly that. The book this film is based on is also well worth reading as well.

Eddie Papetti
Eddie Papetti

It presents interesting information about Lew Wasserman, MCA, Hollywood and power forces in the US but don't cancel any plans just to watch this documentery.

Leonardo Aranda
Leonardo Aranda

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