Hollywood Posts

“Chokepoint Capitalism” by Rebecca Gilrow and Cory Doctorow

Chokepoint Capitalism: How big tech and big content captured creative labour markets, and how we’ll win them back by Rebecca Giblon and Cory Doctorow (Scribe Publications) is a must read. Whether you are a digital entrepreneur or a service provider or an employee, or a digital creator and a consumer, this is an essential read. It is incredible on every page, so many pennies drop in understanding the digital world we inhabit. The commercials, the hungry desire of many “digital entrepreneurs” in providing platforms for users, supposedly enabling the creative workers to use these for their individual expression, but the platform owners having the first mover advantage / exploit to use the massive volume of IPR being created in multiple ways. The authors prefer to dwell upon the hourglass-shaped markets, “with customers paying money at one end, suppliers and workers creating value at the other, and a small number of predatory rentiers controlling access in the middle. Creators earn little from the culture they produce not because of platforms per se — even if tech platforms are the major culprits right now — but because their supply chains are colonial by powerful corporations who co-opt most of its value.”

The authors discuss in detail in the first section if the book how big business captured culture, how Amazon took over books, how news got broken, why streaming doesn’t pay, why Spotify wants you to rely on playlists, why seven thousand Hollywood writers fired their agents, why Fortnite sued Apple and about YouTube chokepoints. The second section is entitled “braking anticompetitive wheels” with chapters on ideas lying around, transparency rights, collective action, time limits on copyright contracts, radical interoperability, minimum wages for creative work, collective ownership and uniting against chokepoint capitalism.

Read this book. Use it. Take it to heart. This is one of those big idea books that will appeal to many and will make many creative workers think. Remember content is the oil of the twenty-first century. Sobering thought when digital entrepreneurs realise that there is economic opportunity in every deep dive on the net; it is to the tune of a minimum $1 billion.

“The Penguin Book of Hollywood” (Ed.) Christopher Silvester

“The Penguin Book of Hollywood”, edited by Christopher Silvester. First edition, 1998.

I picked up this anthology at our church garden fete. It consists of reportage, book extracts (usually from memoirs), accounts of incidents/recordings/castings/pitching a story etc. It is about Hollywood in the twentieth century.

Some of the essays are:
“Eluding the Patent Agents” Fred J. Balshofer
“The growing stature of agents” Howard Dietz
“The producer and the produced” George Sanders, Letter to his father, 16 Oct 1937
“Stravinsky in Hollywood” Miklos Rozsa
“The Ethics of the Industry” Raymond Chandler, Letter to Alfred Knopf, 12 Jan 1946
“The rising cost of production” Darryl F. Zanuck, Memo to Producers, Directors, Executives, 13 June 1946
“Group Life” Jean Renoir to Albert Andre, the painter, 25 Oct 1946
“No, I don’t despise Holywood”, Raymond Chandler , Letter to Hamish Hamilton, 13 Oct 1950
“Pitching a story”, John Gregory Dunne, husband of Joan Didion
“The casting of Al Pacino [ in “The Godfather”]”, Robert Evans
“The stress of Jon Voight”, David Sherwin
“Moral rot” John Huston

And the list goes on.

A quick check on the Internet shows that this book is unavailable. Sad. It seems like a treasure that can easily be updated.

11 Feb 2023

Ahimsa by Supriya Kelkar


Scholastic India is proud to announce that it has acquired the publishing rights for one of the most awaited books of the year, Ahimsa.

In 1942, after Mahatma Gandhi asks one member of each family to join the non-violent freedom movement, 10-year-old Anjali is devastated to think that her father will risk his life for the country. But he’s not the one joining. Anjali’s mother is. 10-year-old Anjali’s mother has joined India’s freedom struggle. Anjali gets unwillingly involved in the turmoil. She has to give up her biases against the Dalit community, or the so-called untouchables, and sacrifice her
foreign-made clothes for khadi.

As the family gets more and more involved in the cause, Anjali must give up her privileges and confront her prejudices to ensure her little contribution to the movement is complete.

This is a poignant debut about overcoming one’s internal struggles and giving up one’s biases. It is essentially about female empowerment.

Inspired by her great-grandmother’s experience working with Gandhi, Supriya Kelkar brings to life the stories of the unsung heroes of India’s War of Independence.

Shantanu Duttagupta, Head of Publishing, Scholastic India, says, “Ahimsa is a book every Indian should read, whether you are a parent, child, educator or book lover. It leaves a mark.”

Supriya Kelkar doesn’t shy away from the reality that progress can sometimes be slow and one must persist even when all hope seems gone. She draws inspiration from her own family history. Kelkar says, “I’m so thrilled Ahimsa is heading to India, and cannot wait to share this book with all the wonderful readers there!”

About the author
Born and raised in the Midwest, Supriya Kelkar learned Hindi as a child by watching three Bollywood films a week. Now she works in the film industry as a Bollywood screenwriter. She has credits on one Hollywood film and several Hindi films. Ahimsa, inspired by her great-grandmother’s role in the Indian freedom movement, is her debut middle grade novel.

“A poignant look at India’s independence through the eyes of a ten-year-old, Ahimsa is a well-crafted tale of resistance.”

— Rajkumar Hirani, director of the films Sanju3 Idiots, PK and Lage Raho Munna Bhai





Releasing on August 6



₹395; HB; 308 PP


For further information, please contact – Debosmita Sarkar ( [email protected] )

About Scholastic India

Established in 1997, Scholastic India runs a dynamic publishing programme that aims to bring out innovative titles from the best of Indian authors and illustrators. Scholastic works closely with teachers, parents and students to encourage reading and promote the highest quality of reading and educational material in English.


12 July 2018 

David Baldacci, “The Finisher”

David Baldacci, “The Finisher”

Baldacci, The Finisher

It was released on 4 March 2014. Apparently it is part of a series.

The story is revolves around a fourteen-seasons-old girl called Vega Jane. She has a younger brother called John Jane living in Wormwood. She had a family but her parents are in Care, only to disappear in a swirl of fire, called an Event. She had grandparents but they too have passed on. Her grandfather, former member of the Council, had an Event too. As with all fantasy novels this too has a strong social structure. At times I get the feeling that these novels would not work if it were not for the inherent social system, akin to our caste system.

Wormwood was founded by Alvis Alcumus, five hundred sessions ago. There is the Council with a capital “C’, which fortunately has one “female” member — Morrigone. ( No one is referred to as men or women, but as male and female. ) Otherwise there are men, with a strict pecking order. The society consists of people or Wugs. Vega Jane works as a “finisher” at the Stacks, putting finishing touches to pretty little objects for people to use while her brother goes to Learning. She seems to be the only girl in employment at Stacks. She has a good friend, Daniel Delphia or “Delph”, who is a couple of seasons older to her, later he trains her for the duelum too. Delph’s father, Dus Delphia is a beast trainer.

There are fantastic elements in it like the beasts, playing with the notion of time, ( “neither can you intervene in any way in the events that you witness, no matter what happens. That is the law of time and it cannot be circumvented.”) and the Hall of Truth, a library, where a book once opened comes to life.

The story is fairly simple. Vega Jane, fending for herself, while her parents have been transfered to Care. Then her brother gets whisked away by Morigonne given his exceptional brains, he is chosen to help the Council in building a wall ( The Wall) to keep Outliers from the Quag. In a sense everyone from Wormwood is instructed to help in the construction. Vega Jane is inquisitive, energetic, independent and tough. Soon Vega Jane finds herself in trouble with the Council, once it is discovered that she has in her possession a map of the Quag, with a detailed description of the creatures it contains. A document she came to own after the disappearance of her colleague and mentor, Quentin Hermis. The Council does not take kindly to this discovery but an inevitable death sentence is commuted if she is participates in the duelum that has been announced. Usually it is only reserved for the young healthy male wugs, but for the first time the competition has been opened to females. As an incentive it has been announced if a female wins she will be given double the prize money — one thousand coins.

The story takes off in the second half. It moves quickly and it is fairly evident that Baldacci is finally comfortable telling this story. A professional storyteller like him should have no challenges in telling a story. But there are moments when you are left wondering if he really should be wading into fantasy genre. If he wants to tap into the every growing young adult market surely he can do so by telling a good thriller or a mystery story? The characters are created well but they are not completely in step with contemporary fantasy fiction. In that sense they seem to be cardboard cutouts. There are moments in the story that you get the impression Baldacci is also not too sure about his target audience. Is he writing for his existing and loyal readership that will buy the book regardless of the genre or is he actually making inroads into a new market? Is he doing the reverse of what J K Rowling did — she went from young adult to adult trade? Is he following in the footsteps of Philip Pullman. I cannot tell.

The Finisher  is an absorbing novel to read, irrespective of the discomfort at it not being a smooth reading from the word go. Baldacci is an experienced storyteller. So he makes things happen. He knows how to move the plot along. He knows how to balance the information provided to the reader and how much to immerse the characters in. Before you know it, the 500-odd pages are zipping along. By the time I finished reading the book, I realised I did want to know what happened next. And how soon will it be before the sequel is published.

So I am not at all surprised to hear that the Hollywood film rights have been optioned by the same person who directed the Spiderman movies. This novel lends itself to some good visual effects and if it is a big budget film, it will be fun to watch on a big screen. It will happen in 2016.

David Baldacci The Finisher PanMacmillan India, New Delhi, 2014. Pb. pp. 512 Rs. 350

11 March 2014 

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