Written 3.25.2017 on Facebook, posted on JoeActon.com 6.3.2017
Amazon Prime is running a couple of F. Scott Fitzgerald related series that are worthy of a look. Fitzgerald, who came up in what we now think of as the Age of Jazz, wasn’t then the great American writer he is now considered to be. He’s probably best known for "The Great Gatsby" (1925), widely considered to be his critique on the excesses of the American dream. He continued this criticism in 1941 in his last – and unfinished – novel, "The Last Tycoon," plotted to be a send-up of Hollywood and its excesses."The Last Tycoon" is now a series on Amazon starring Matt Bomer (White Collar) and Kelsey Grammar (Frasier), both of whom are excellent in their composite character representations of Irving Thalberg (Bomer’s role as Monroe Stahr) and Louis B. Mayer (Kelsey’s role as Pat Brady).
Only the pilot is available as Amazon did not take the show directly to series, but chose to shoot the pilot first and wait for reaction – which was strong, so they are shooting S1 now. Even if you’re not a Fitzgerald fan, the pilot is worth a look-see – the acting is strong, the production values high and story compelling, i.e., didn’t know Hitler influenced major studio productions during his reign? Didn’t know the Nazi’s had an office that only dealt with Hollywood and how they portrayed Jews and/or the German government? Watch this pilot – you won’t be disappointed in anything, except the greed that rules the souls of men.
Also on Amazon Prime, but with the entirety of S1 ready to watch, is "Z: The Beginning of Everything" and follows the lives of Fitzgerald and his muse, drinking buddy and wife, Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald. Christina Ricci channels Zelda and simply IS Zelda. David Hoflin is the self-centered, arrogant and terminally unsure of himself, Fitzgerald.
If there is a literary couple about whom more has been written than these two, I’d like to know who they are, so you may or may not like the portrayals here. But again, Amazon has adhered to the old-school Hollywood axiom: put the money on the screen, the result of which is yet another series with fabulous production values.
The era is not one ordinarily explored in a television series, so be prepared to be transported to a simpler time, but with the same emotions, convictions and quandaries of today. We are after all, the same humans… just with different toys.