Burn It Down: Power, Complicity, and a Call for Change in Hollywood

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Burn It Down: Power, Complicity, and a Call for Change in Hollywood

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • LOS ANGELES TIMES BESTSELLER

In this spectacular, newsmaking exposé that has the entertainment industry abuzz and on its heels, Vanity Fair‘s Maureen Ryan blows the lid off patterns of harassment and bias in Hollywood, the grassroots reforms under way, and the labor and activist revolutions that recent scandals have ignited.

It is never just One Bad Man.

Abuse and exploitation of workers is baked into the very foundations of the entertainment industry. To break the cycle and make change that sticks, it’s important to stop looking at headline-making stories as individual events. Instead, one must look closely at the bigger picture, to see how abusers are created, fed, rewarded, allowed to persist, and, with the right tools, how they can be excised.

In Burn It Down, veteran reporter Maureen Ryan does just that. She draws on decades of experience to connect the dots and illuminate the deeper forces sustaining Hollywood’s corrosive culture. Fresh reporting sheds light on problematic situations at companies like Lucasfilm and shows like Lost, Saturday Night Live, The Goldbergs, Sleepy Hollow, Curb Your Enthusiasm and more.

Interviews with actors and famous creatives like Evan Rachel Wood, Harold Perrineau, Damon Lindelof, and Orlando Jones abound. Ryan dismantles, one by one, the myths that the entertainment industry promotes about itself, which have allowed abusers to thrive and the industry to avoid accountability—myths about Hollywood as a meritocracy, what it takes to be creative, the value of human dignity, and more.

Weaving together insights from industry insiders, historical context, and pop-culture analysis, Burn It Down paints a groundbreaking and urgently necessary portrait of what’s gone wrong in the entertainment world—and how we can fix it.

Specification: Burn It Down: Power, Complicity, and a Call for Change in Hollywood

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20 reviews for Burn It Down: Power, Complicity, and a Call for Change in Hollywood

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  1. Anthony Sparks

    Great book. Necessary.

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  2. Crystal McKinnis Allen

    Ryan names names in this brutally honest take-down of Hollywood’s toxic culture and the coddled men that keep it that way. She goes far beyond the issue of sexual harassment, focusing attention on a winner take all culture that showers the well-connected with vast wealth, while leaving many of the people who actually grind out the work in perpetual poverty. She strips away all the excuses, leaving nothing but the obvious truth–Hollywood needs to clean up its stinky house. I hope this book makes a difference.

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  3. William M Miller

    This book finally exposes the real side of Damon Lindelof. Having gone to school with him at NYU (he lived one floor below me in the dormitory) Damon has not changed at all. While fortunately he never disrespected me, he back-stabbed our mutual friend upon leaving the university. Damon (we called him Ferris) was one of the first of our group to head to the West Coast, and when my buddy was ready to join him, Damon asked my friend to stay with him until he found a place and could check out the area in Los Angeles. However, when my buddy arrived in Los Angeles, he called Damon over and over, leaving message after message about staying with him but never received a response… even to this day!If someone like this who was a VERY close friend of four years could behave in such a disrespectful way, imagine what he could do to people he barely knew? This well written book paints a scary picture of not only Damon, but the people in charge when they are given a powerful role in the industry. Their despicable words and actions have negatively changed people’s lives. Unfortunately, Damon’s response to the dozens and dozens of people he hurt in this book do not sound the least bit genuine. Now that these stories have been brought to light, he’s predictably and desperately trying to go into damage control mode. But the truth is finally out and he will have to live with it. The world now knows exactly what type of person he is. Damon can’t hide behind the writer’s room door any longer.

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  4. Elden RhoadsElden Rhoads

    Maureen Ryan’s book is essential reading for any one interested in the history of Hollywood. Behind the scenes of glitz and glamour are the hard-working souls who keep the industry running despite being constantly subjected to unprofessional conduct, sexual harassment, racial bias, generalized toxicity, and labor exploitation. This is their story–people who love what they do, but still crave the respect they deserve. Burn It Down belongs on your bookshelf next to other ground-breaking Hollywood exposes, such as She Said, by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, and Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow.

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  5. Carrie Maxwell

    Maureen Ryan has written an excellent and necessary book that unveils so many of the reasons why Hollywood is broken and needs to be reformed from its roots. This book is not just for people interested in the entertainment industry, it’s really about workers rights on the whole. The fact that Maureen’s book was released during an ongoing writers strike (and potential actors and directors strike) says everything about how the power-elite in Hollywood feel about those creatives and really the rest of us consumers. The greed and overall meanness from the C-suites is off the charts right now. The book has stories about the Lost, The 100, Saturday Night Live and Sleepy Hollow among others. I highly recommend this book.

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  6. Barbara Watson

    I have been following the author since her days writing for Entertainment Weekly and looked forward especially to her coverage of Battlestar Galactica and Lost. Over the years, I found her writing to be fair and complex and reflective of her own obvious love of the shows I obsessed over. I came to respect her perspective, which was always thoughtful and full of the insights gained from interviewing the creatives behind the scenes. So I was thrilled to learn she had compiled her thoughts on the industry in general into a book, which I happily preordered. The stories she tells have opened my eyes to the dysfunction in the industry I love, particularly some of the genre shows that once obsessed me. But her goal is to help change the industry, which I hope she can by telling the truth and shaming the devil. Or at least Damon Lindeloff. Thanks for a great read.

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  7. Qurious

    I can’t emphasize enough how important this book is if you care about the future of the entertainment industry. It’s filled with stories that will enrage as well as inspire, while meticulously building a case for what needs to change and why. And it all clearly comes from a place of respect and passion for the people who work in this industry. If I could buy a copy for all my friends in the industry, I would. It’s that good. Grateful to Maureen Ryan for the blood, sweat and tears she put into writing this book.

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  8. Gabriela Velasquez

    You can always tell when a journalist knows their beat — has the kind of knowledge that can only be found from years and years not just observing their area of expertise, but getting to know sources from the ground up. Ryan is one of the best journos in the television industry, her coverage has always approached shows from angles that many other reporters do not think to approach. This book is well-written, eye-opening and, best of all, offers tangible solutions instead of just showcasing a problem. A vital read for anyone wanting to break into the entertainment industry, or even just understand it.

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  9. Amazon Customer

    The stories of yet another abusive man in TV, and another, all blur together after a while, especially as many are about producers who are often not household names. The importance of this book is that it takes some examples – LOST, Sleepy Hollow, SNL among them – to look at the structural issues and cultural beliefs at play.Ryan deconstructs the belief that bad behaviour is not only acceptable if you are a “creative genius” it’s actually part an intrinsic of being creative.Ryan doesn’t only look at the explicit abuses, but the often less obvious forms of exclusion and discrimination and the myth of meritocracy which impacts people from marginalized groups, even though as she notes, these days we have plenty of data that demonstrates the reality of it.And lest you think this all sounds too depressing, there are examples from actors and writers who worked in functional, supportive environments, so demonstrate that it is possible!Importantly the book gives a lot of space to looking for solutions, both in the form of restorative justice on a personal level, and strategies the studios and the industry could implement, some of which are part of the demands by the currently striking writers’ guild.Ryan has an easy to read conversational and personal style of writing, that is backed up with extensive interviewers and evidence. Highly recommended.

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  10. sci-fi nerd

    I don’t know what I was expecting, but THIS. This, Burn It Down, is eye-opening and remarkable.Remember when, before all the #metoo and Harvey Weinstein uproar, we used to think working in the entertainment industry was so glamorous? Everyone dreamed of “making it” in Hollywood. Ladies and gents, I am here to tell you WE ALL DODGED A BIG, FAT BULLET.I won’t spoil it for you, but let’s just say you’re probably about to find out that at least one of your favorite TV shows was (or is) a steaming pile of a b u s e and racial/ethnic/gender disparities, all at the hands of power hungry “creative geniuses”. Prepare to get angry. Like really, really, Will Smith-styled angry.

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  11. Cynthia LiebermanCynthia Lieberman

    “Burn it Down” is a tome of vicarious venting for anyone who has suffered creative PTSD in Hollywood.It’s a substantial book that allows readers to vicariously experience and express their frustrations, anger, or grievances through the stories and narratives it presents, specifically focusing on the context of Hollywood and the entertainment industry. It serves as a cathartic outlet for readers seeking to indirectly release their own pent-up emotions and frustrations by immersing themselves in the stories of others who have faced similar challenges or injustices in the Hollywood setting.Rebuilding hope this exposé helps reverse the curse of bad mentoring that Hollywood has infamously — and justifiably — been known for, for so long.

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  12. Sue P

    Absolutely essential reading for anyone in Hollywood, the business or just wants to know the truth about the town. Can’t put it down!

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  13. Tilly

    in our world where movies and television are so celebrated and revered as art forms and entertainment, understanding how so much of it is unnecessarily built upon the pain of others is absolutely vital.Mo rips the curtain away to show you the working conditions behind many of the things you love, and wonders along with us if the joy, connection, and experience we get from these pieces of art is worth the human suffering behind it. but she does it from a place of deep compassion, of concern, of love, for both the art form and the people who make it.Mo’s heart is so big, and you’ll see it on every page. you’ll get enraged right along with her, cry next to her, and join her in the hope for a better future.it’s only by exposing these problems that we can work to find a way to fix them, to make the process of creating this art as safe and rewarding as it can be to experience it.we deserve better, all of us, and Burn it Down is a key to the doorway that with lead us down the better path that will get us there.

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  14. Shopper X

    Eye-opening and insightful, “Burn It Down” does a fantastic job of taking a fair, unflinching look at how the sausage is made behind the scenes of the most popular productions. It shows exactly how inequality happens in real time, and the decisions that those in power make to keep inequality in place. (And how we collectively let them off the hook!) This is a must-read — and is certain to inflame and terrify the Faux News crowd, and their inability to recognize the experiences of people outside of existing power structures. Check the one-star reviews, you’ll see what I mean. 🙂

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  15. HistoryNerdsUnited

    Maureen Ryan had me at Killjoys. If you have not seen the wonderfully ridiculous sci-fi show, then please do so once this review is finished. While this seems like a weird reason to be won over by a book, it makes perfect sense when you think about it. A book about burning down the Hollywood system would be an absolute slog if the person approached it from a place of anger. As soon as Ryan mentioned Killjoys, I knew she actually loved what Hollywood puts out. She just hates what it takes to get things made.For anyone who reads the description of Burn It Down, you may initially think this is going to be another long list of terrible events within the Hollywood system. You may also be the type who doesn’t want to read about someone’s “agenda.” What I would tell you is that this is an in-depth look by someone who has spent significant time around show business, made the connections necessary to build a massive narrative, and then created a viewpoint which is not a witch hunt but a search for institutional change. This book is not about crucifying white men. It is about crucifying a system which routinely rewards bad behavior by giving people power they do not wield benevolently.Guess what else this book has? Numbers! Yes, it is not all anecdotes of terrible behavior. There are numbers which bear out what Ryan is trying to say. And then, the coup de grace. A plan. Ryan has a plan with articulated ways to fix the system. I came for the gory details. I stayed for the well thought out action plan.However, all of this could have been a much different book without Ryan’s love for what Hollywood puts out. There are not many books where the author lets you know which Muppet she most identifies with. I won’t spoil it. It’s too good. You should definitely read this book and find out, though.(This book was provided as an advance copy by Netgalley and Mariner Books.)

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  16. Dinanand

    The title truly tells it all! I want to scream it from the rooftops!I knew I would like this book, what I didn’t know is that I would LOVE IT.This is not a #metoo only story. Maureen Ryan, a well known entertainment reporter is diving deep into the structure of Hollywood and the entertainment industry to expose the treatment of women, of people of color and of all workers who are not at the top of the power pyramid.Ryan interviews many, MANY well known and lesser known persons and provides many first hand accounts of abuse. SNL and Lucasfilm are at the forefront, along with a few shows that I am not that familiar with such as : The Goldbergs, Lost, Sleepy Hollow, Curb Your Enthusiasm and more.If you are interested in the stars, here are a few: Evan Rachel Wood, Harold Perrineau, Damon Lindelof, Colin Jost and Orlando Jones. Ryan dispels myths and provides more information regarding rumors you have read about or snippets or stories you have heard.Best yet, not only does she peel back the layers, but she provides solutions. I don’t usually bookmark much on my kindle but there were countless sentences and paragraphs that I want to reread and requote in other contexts. A true work of a lifetime and fabulous. I would recommend this book HIGHLY for anyone interested in Hollywood, the infrastructure of power and systematic racism and sexism. It will truly blow you away!

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  17. Rod Faulkner

    Read this book. If you enjoy film and television, this exposé on Hollywood corruption and toxicity will change the way you view the business of entertainment media forever – and that’s a good thing. For too long we have bought into the myth of the “tortured, temperamental” artists that often excuses and enables toxic, abusive behaviors of the Hollywood elite. Maureen Ryan demolishes that that lie with hard-hitting journalism detailing the living hell many ” below-the-line” Hollywood professionals endure, which also allows powerful abusers to escape any accountability for the harm they cause. When you finish reading Burn It Down, you will agree the traditional ways Tinseltown operates must change.

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  18. John Grygo

    This book was a long time coming in Hollywood. Highly enjoyed the read.

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  19. Dave Watson, Editor, Movies Matter

    We’ve all seen the pictures of Hollywood elite all smiles. This book, like many others claim to, takes us behind the scenes with firsthand accounts from sets and also supported research. What makes it readable start to finish is how Maureen Ryan covers similar stories in different ways and never loses focus of the humanity behind the economic conditions and climates that have long existed in Hollywood. A great read all the way through.

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  20. A. Joseph Orlando

    My God…now whenever I see a bad movie or bad TV show I’m just gonna think about this book. She really rips the lid off the crap people have to go through in this business. It brings things into such sharp focus that I don’t think the industry can sustain itself if it continues to conduct business in this manner. I really do feel that this is going to be one of those seminal books that changes people’s perception of the business side of Hollywood. Extremely well done, I learned a lot.

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    Burn It Down: Power, Complicity, and a Call for Change in Hollywood
    Burn It Down: Power, Complicity, and a Call for Change in Hollywood

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