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Bennett CerfBennett Cerf
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I think I told you about him--who had now worked his way up into a vice-presidency at MGM in charge of all publicity and advertising. Dietz wrote all the pieces for the director, the producer, Norma Shearer and every other contributor but Shakespeare. Of course the whole project was ridiculous, but it was very profitable and enabled me to meet Irving Thalberg, who was a giant in those days. He died very young, unfortunately, but everybody loved and respected him. Well, when we brought the book out we ran two full-page ads in the New York Times Book Review for the fool thing. People thought I'd gone stark raving mad because they thought it was my own money I was squandering. This was one of the first times that a motion picture company had ever given money to a publisher to help advertise a book. It became quite commonplace later on--it is today. When you bring out a book now that the movies have already bought for a lot of money, they will very often give you a considerable sum to help make it a best seller.

Of course, nobody bought the great MGM “Romeo.” Those full-page ads were completely wasted, absolutely wasted.


Did the movie become a success?


No. Of course, it had been given the full MGM treatment, which in those days was something, but people laughed at it. Norma Shearer was too old to play Juliet. Juliet should be played by a 15-year-old girl. She was about 30, gloriously beautiful, and a good actress--but not Juliet. The whole project was kind of a joke. But MGM did get credit for a good try.

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