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INSIDE: How David Geffen, Barry Diller, and Hollywood’s biggest power brokers made it to the top – by starting at the bottom. The stories. The secrets. The truth. In their own words.
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writer, best-selling collaborator :
David Rensin


The Audacious Life and Legend of Rebel Surfer Miki Dora

An oral/narrative biography of the once and forever king of Malibu, and HarperEntertainment will publish on April 8, 2008. (USA/Canada)

Random House UK will publish on April 3, 2008 (Other English-speaking countries.)

The book is based on over 300 interviews with Dora’s friends, enemies, intimates, peers, and family. I also combed through piles of research; traveled the length of California, then to France and the tip of South Africa; phoned/emailed everywhere else there are rideable waves.

Known as “Da Cat,” Dora dominated surfing style and soul during his heyday, and Malibu’s, in the ‘50s and ‘60s, before and after the movie “Gidget” brought the crowds and changed (most say ruined) everything. Although many of his contemporaries were break-the-mold wave-masters in their own right, Dora’s God-given gifts in the water coupled with the living theater of his charismatic, complicated, comic, and non-conformist personality, made him what they could never be: a legend in his own time.

Then, in the early ‘70s, Dora disappeared from Malibu to roam the world on a endless summer sojourn searching for empty, perfect waves – and peace of mind. Yesterday’s rebels had moved on and become the ME Generation. He hated what he saw as First World social and moral corruption – not that he wasn’t infected with a touch of both himself – and he’d had enough of what he considered being trapped in a black hole of celebrity between the soul-sucking consequences of his talent, charm, and mystique, and his belief that nothing in life was more valuable than total personal freedom – no matter what the cost to himself, and often others.

When he died, in early 2002, the London Times eulogized him as “A surfing hedonist who became a hero to a generation of beach bums ... (He) was everything that a surfer ought to be: he was tanned, he was good-looking, and he was trouble. West Coast archetype and antihero, he became the incarnation of surfing for the postwar generation . . . Dora was a Kerouac in board shorts, the soulmate of Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest: A subversive, restless wild man.”

The Surfer’s Journal co-publisher/founder Steve Pezman told the Los Angeles Times, “If you had to pick one surfer that epitomized California surfing in the 20th century, it would be Miki Dora ... Everything that’s wrong with it and everything that’s right with it.”

There’s much more to this great story that's both local and international. (About 500 pages more.) But this much is clear: There will never be another character in surfing like Miki Dora. No one. Not even close.

The reviews are finally coming in ...

All for a Few Perfect Waves:
The Audacious Life and Legend of Rebel Surfer Miki Dora
David Rensin. Harper Entertainment, $25.95 (496p) ISBN 978-0-06-077331-1

In this vivid biography, Rensin (The Mailroom: Hollywood History from the Bottom Up) takes on a daunting task: to clarify the clouded myth of legendary surfer Miki Dora. Growing up in post-WWII California, the half-Hungarian Dora came to surfing in the 1950s and '60s, when it was still an oddball pastime of random kooks riding longboards made out of redwoods off nearly empty Los Angeles beaches. Dora's grace and signature style brought him attention as surfing grew into the central image of the California “endless summer.” Yet Dora was no ordinary beach bum, and his restless intelligence led him around the world in search of waves as yet unsullied by the masses. Dora also possessed a darker side and had no qualms about ripping off even his closest friends. His credit card scams eventually landed him in prison. Rensin faces a difficult task in tracking down an elusive and paranoid target (Dora died of pancreatic cancer in early 2002). After a muddled introduction in which Dora is compared to everyone from Muhammad Ali to the beat poets, Rensin lets Dora's friends, lovers and rivals tell the story. The result brings a remarkable focus to a man whose greatest accomplishments were written on water. Dora's life tracked the explosion of celebrity culture and it's hard not to sympathize with Dora's ambivalence about his fame. (Apr.)


OTHER BOOKS NOW IN BOOKSTORES! (Click links below for Amazon pages.)

THE MAILROOM: Hollywood History from the Bottom Up (Ballantine, Feb 4, 2003): An oral history of what it's like to start at the bottom in Hollywood's legendary talent agency mailrooms, dreaming of the top. Covers more than 65 years in 200+ interviews with all the major players.

"The Mailroom" spent 10 weeks on the Los Angeles Times Bestseller List.

March 24: PEOPLE MAGAZINE says: "Bottom line: Really Delivers!"

Variety: Broadway Video has optioned the rights make a documentary based on the book.

"Rensin captures the ambition, manipulative plotting and hustler mentality in this series of raunchy, realistic interviews, making (the book) an uncompromisingly truthful tell-all of what it takes to make it in the movie biz. The stories are amusing, intriguing and sometimes horrifying, but Rensin, to his credit, never dilutes sordid details.

"Reading this juicy oral history is a lot like going to work in the mailroom of William Morris, CAA, or any of the other talent agencies whose veterans speak here with exceeding frankness about their experiences in the entertainment industry's trenches.

Rensin, who honed his ability to tell a story in someone else's voice as co-author of memoirs by Tim Allen, Chris Rock, and a host of other celebrities, skillfully weaves together dozens of first-person narratives in a deceptively casual structure that justifies the book's subtitle.

This is indeed Hollywood history, more specifically a cogent account of how talent agencies have evolved since Morris was ruled by executives in size 36-short suits. Rensin's clever use of personal memories as mosaic pieces, arranged in patterns to form an industry-wide portrait, is history for grown-ups: entertaining, instructive, and irresistible."

"An oral history of a crucial Tinseltown tradition, related by some folks who make Machiavelli look lik a pussycat ... The talk is fast and frank ... Edgy, frenetic, and entertaining reports from the room that launched a thousand deals."

"The Mailroom" is a fascinating document of cultural anthropology. Unlike most entertainment reporting, which focuses on celebrities and mighty media lords, "The Mailroom" views Hollywood from the bottom up, with a big emphasis on the maxim that what doesn't kill you will make you stronger. It provides a glimpse of a rough-and-tumble world where young trainees learn that when it comes to pampering celebrities or placating your boss, no chore is too demeaning, whether it's returning a bra for Barbra Streisand or delivering a senior agent's stool sample to the doctor. Perhaps that's why the mailroom has spawned so many industry titans: It provides a bracing lesson in the acquisition and exercise of power. Anyone arriving with a feeling of entitlement is in for a rude awakening ... Rensin carefully avoids making judgments, preferring to let us draw our own conclusions about the values and behavior on display."


“The Mailroom is a terrific book. Loaded with great stories, unusual insights, and laugh-out-loud humor. You will love this one.”

“Coming from the William Morris mailroom as I have, this book is the truth of what I experienced. It’s hilarious, a bit crazy, and it should make anyone wonder why people put their careers in the hands of these idiots . . . and remember I’m one of them. If you have a child, make sure he or she reads this before starting at the bottom—anywhere.”

“The Mailroom is a blast to read. This is the way Hollywood operates—the fun, the giddy highs, the espionage and the wrenching twists of luck and disaster. David Rensin is a master at eliciting the truth nobody else captures.”
—CAMERON CROWE, author of Conversations with Wilder, director of "Almost Famous"

A worthy successor to Studs Terkel, Rensin delivers not only a riveting history of one of the most powerful springboards in Hollywood but a must-read for anyone with grand ambitions.”
—CATHERINE CRIER, author of The Case Against Lawyers, host of Court TV's "The Crier Report."

“Here, in the quintessential Hollywood Roshomon, David Rensin has impossibly and heroically channeled Studs Terkel and Harold Robbins all at once. This is a pinball machine clanging secret truths that move and careen as brashly as the movers who blurt their guts onto every shockingly entertaining page. And the best part is that we learn that people who are now very, very rich were forced to do very, very humiliating things to achieve such. What a refreshing equalizer for us all.”
—BILL ZEHME, author of Lost in the Funhouse: The Life and Mind of Andy Kaufman, and The Way You Wear Your Hat: Frank Sinatra and the Lost Art of Livin'

“David Rensin’s book offers a fascinating look at some of the most powerful people and institutions in Hollywood. It’s packed with entertaining anecdotes, cautionary tales, and survival tips for those who dare to try their luck in one of the world’s riskiest, most unpredictable businesses.”
—KIM MASTERS, author of Keys to the Kingdom

“As the maven of the mailroom, David Rensin presents an often hilarious glimpse of life at the bottom.”
—PETER BART, Editor-in-chief, Variety

DEVIL AT MY HEELS: A WWII Hero's Epic Saga of Torment, Survival, and Forgiveness. Foreword by Senator John McCain.(Wm Morrow, Jan 21, 2003): The story of Louis Zamperini -- juvenile delinquent, NCAA mile record holder, 1936 Olympian, and WW II bombardier who crashed in the Pacific in 1943 and survived 47 days drifting 2000 miles on a raft and endured more than two years of torture in Japanese prison camps -- and much, much more. Co-authored with Zamperini.

"Resurrects Zamperini's heroism...It's difficult to argue with this account of a harrowing life constantly redirected toward good works."

Zamperini and Rensin devote three-quarters of the former's autobiography to his ups and downs before the influence of Billy Graham turned him around and he became a well-known inspirational speaker. A near delinquent in interwar Los Angeles, he nevertheless became a good enough runner to make the U.S. team for the 1936 Olympics. Later, serving in the Army Air Force in World War II, he survived six weeks adrift on a raft after his plane went down at sea and then, more than two years of particularly atrocious treatment as a prisoner of the Japanese. His postwar rehabilitation involved opportunities missed, money squandered, and sieges of alcoholism until Graham's counsel took hold (he also credits his wife, paying her generous tribute). His book not only retells the interesting life story of a generation now passing from the scene but also adds significantly to knowledge of each of the kinds of experience he underwent. It will find readers and please them.

YANNI IN WORDS (Miramax, Feb 12, 2003) Memoir by the world-reknowned musician and composer.

Debuts 3/3/03 at #14 on New York Times Bestseller list

What are the chances that a poor kid from Kalamata, Greece, who doesn't read music but taught himself to play piano at six, who doesn't dance, doesn't sing, doesn't write lyrics, doesn't conform to any particular musical style, and doesn't want to play the show business ‘game' -- what are the chances that this kid will ever succeed, much less become a musical phenomenon known in every corner of the globe? "Miniscule," says Yanni. "It's laughable. Against-all-odds. But it can happen. We made it happen."

Yanni In Words is the story of how it happened; it's the story no one knows and millions have been waiting for.


Previously published:

WHERE DID I GO RIGHT?: You're No One In Hollywood Unless Someone Wants You Dead, the widely-lauded, best-selling memoir of show business super-manager and legend Bernie Brillstein.

Co-authored actor/comedian Tim Allen's New York Times mega-bestseller, DON'T STAND TOO CLOSE TO A NAKED MAN, as well as Allen's follow-up, I'M NOT REALLY HERE. Also, comedian Jeff Foxworthy's NO SHIRT, NO SHOES ... NO PROBLEM!, and comedian Chris Rock's ROCK THIS! – all New York Times bestsellers.

Co-wrote the best-selling CONFESSIONS OF A LATE NIGHT TALK SHOW HOST: The Autobiography of Larry Sanders, with Garry Shandling.

Created and co-wrote (with Bill Zehme) the best-selling 1991 cult classic trade paperback, THE BOB BOOK: A Celebration of the Ultimate Okay Guy, a ground-breaking humorous sociology of men named Bob. (Rare, but available through used book sites everywhere!)

years experience: Many, and then some.
rates: Everyone has their price ...
Writing, Ghost-writing, Developmental editing, Proposal writing/editing, Book Doctor
Biography, History, Mind/body/spirit, Health, Travel, Lifestyle, Science, Getting the voice right ... on the page
"He never once yawned in my face" -- Bernie Brillstein

"No white man in America better understands the plight of the Black Man than David Rensin*" -- Chris Rock (*"I meant the plight of comedians trying to write books")

"Without David's talent and help you would be reading a pamphlet, not a book" -- Jeff Foxworthy

"Please don't tell" -- Tim Allen

"(The authors say) This book will be a stirring tribute to Bobs everywhere" -- Bob Greene

Wm Morrow/HarperEntertainment
Gotham Books
"Promises I Made My Mother" with Sam Haskell
"All For a Few Perfect Waves"
"The Little Stuff Matters Most" with Bernie Brillstein
"The Mailroom"
"Devil at My Heels" with Louis Zamperini
"Yanni in Words"
"The Mailroom"
"Where Did I Go Right? -- Bernie Brillstein
"Don't Stand Too Close To A Naked Man" -- Tim Allen
"Rock This!" -- Chris Rock
"The Bob Book" -- Rensin/Zehme
Working on a variety of new projects, from collaborations to oral histories. If you have a book or subject that you think I might be interested in, please E-mail my agent, Brian DeFiore. (See link below. Brian also has a Publishers MarketPlace page. Check it out.)
Since 1980, a contributing editor of Playboy, where my many Playboy Interviews and Twenty Questions interviews include: Bill Gates, Martin Scorsese, Jerry Seinfeld, Bryant Gumbel, Cindy Crawford, Tom Cruise, Whoopi Goldberg, Sarah Jessica Parker, Larry King, Lorne Michaels, Eddie Murphy, Shirley MacLaine, Roseanne, Sean Penn, Dennis Miller, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, Ben Stiller, Mr. Rogers, Julia Roberts, Chris Rock, Tom Snyder, Patrick Stewart, Sigourney Weaver, Sid Caesar, Michael J. Fox, George Clooney, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Samuel L. Jackson, Janeane Garofalo, Charlton Heston, Danny Glover, Glenn Close, and Jon Stewart. Also, at various times, a contributing editor of TV Guide and California Magazine and contributor to Rolling Stone, US, Esquire, Premiere, and other publications.
Brian DeFiore
DeFiore Literary
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