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The seductive biography of Warren Beatty

January 8, 2010 | 10:26 am


Oh, you've already heard the number: 12,775. That, ostensibly, is the tally of women Warren Beatty had bedded before settling down with Annette Bening in 1992. As grand as that number is, it's biographer Peter Biskind's best guess in his new book "Star: How Warren Beatty Seduced America." And now that it's out of the way, we can get to the rest of the book. Our reviewer Lawrence Levi writes:

Packed into these pages, along with Beatty's conquests, are the testimonies of dozens of people who have worked with him over the decades, and even those who adore him sound worn down. "He will suck you dry of all your creativity," says one. "He exploits everybody," another adds....

The contentions (also old news): He's a perfectionist, a control freak, a master manipulator, a bully. He takes credit for others' work. He's maddeningly indecisive and hopelessly self-defeating.

Yet he's responsible for "Bonnie and Clyde," "Shampoo," "Reds" and other excellent movies, and he remains the only filmmaker aside from Orson Welles to be nominated in four Oscar categories -- something he pulled off twice, for "Reds" and "Heaven Can Wait."

This book includes some anecdotes earlier recounted in Biskind's book about the American auteurs of the seventies, "Easy Riders, Raging Bulls," and is it similarly detailed about the film industry -- and just as dishy.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Warren Beatty with Julie Christie in 1971's "Shampoo." Credit: Columbia Pictures