Shadows book cover

It’s Academy Award night in Hollywood, February 1940. Mitch Gardner, Clark Gable, and Carole Lombard are all late for the ceremony. Vivien Leigh wins the Oscar for Scarlett. After the ceremony, a special train provided by William Randolph Hearst is to take everybody who’s anybody to a big party at San Simeon. Mitch Gardner, who wants to both write and direct Donner Pass, is not going to miss that party because he’s planning to hustle Hearst to finance the movie.
Hearst likes Mitch, agrees – with two conditions. Marion Davies must play the starring role of Tamsen Donner, and, to make her look younger, Mitch’s father, Charlie Gardner, must play her husband. Charlie doesn’t want to do any more films and Mitch doesn’t want to trade off his old man. But he has to in order to get his big break. And so we’re off and running in a story whose characters are the people of Hollywood in its heyday – Humphrey Bogart, Judy Garland, Tallulah Bankhead, John Barrymore, Errol Flynn, Spencer Tracy, Scott Fitzgerald, David O. Selznick, Louella Parsons, Hedda Hopper, Jack Warner – career-crazy actors, actresses, directors, writers, having a ball, kissing and telling, knifing their friends, bedding their friends’ wives, every role on- and off-screen a way of making out at a time when Hollywood seemed the top of the world.