The Idolmaker [Blu-Ray] Taylor Hackford

The Idolmaker [Blu-Ray] Taylor Hackford
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In a late '50s era of music, where pop idols were revered as gods by screaming hordes of teenage girls, Vince Vacari is the one pulling all of the strings that no one sees. Based on the real-life story of Bob Marcucci (the man behind the success of Frankie Avalon and Fabian), The Idolmaker is an absorbing peek behind the curtain at how ruthless ambition and a clear vision caused recording artists to leap to the top of the charts at the time. When we first meet him, Vince (Ray Sharkey) is a struggling songwriter waiting tables at his brother's restaurant. Possessing an eye for talent, or more specifically, a knack for identifying the right face to help sell his music, Vince sets his sights on charismatic sax player Tomaso DeLorusso (Paul Land). Re-branding the kid as singer "Tommy Dee," Vince borrows $10,000 from his successful, but estranged father to help put his plan into action. Before long, Tommy is playing at "sock hops" and the wheels are being greased to help get airplay on radio stations and articles published in popular magazine Teen Scene. However, when Tommy begins to buck against Vince's attempts to control every part of his image, Vince decides to ensure his life of luxury by plucking a good-looking busboy (Peter Gallagher) from obscurity and transforming him into new sensation Caesare (hilariously pronounced, "Chez-uh-ray)." Sharkey's performance is wonderfully nuanced in its single-minded pursuit of commercial viability, taking pains to eliminate any controversial vices from his stars while creating a mystique that perpetuates excitement. The ascension of Caesare, aside from a few more growing pains than Tommy Dee, in bringing the relatively green performer up to speed, can't help but feel a bit redundant and the inclusion of a romance for Vince with an editor from Teen Scene (Tovah Feldshuh) seems more like an afterthought. Nevertheless, the songs by Jeff Barry are suitably catchy and a sense of authenticity and intrigue keeps the showbiz story from ever getting too bogged down by these minor flaws. Aside from some production stills and a theatrical trailer, the only other extra included on the disc is a breezy, informative commentary track from director Taylor Hackford, who would later return to the world of music films with Ray (the Jamie Foxx-starring biopic of Ray Charles). Telling stories of his conversations with Marcucci and the inspiration behind certain characters and scenes, Hackford proves to be an insightful guide, leaving little of the dead air that often plagues director commentaries. (Shout! Factory)