Ed Zwick: Hits, Flops, and Other Illusions
Ed Zwick
Cheryl Boone Isaacs

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Academy Award and Emmy Award-winning director Ed Zwick presents his new book Hits, Flops, and Other Illusions: My Fortysomething Years in Hollywood. This heartfelt and wry career memoir from the director of Blood DiamondThe Last SamuraiLegends of the FallAbout Last Night, and Glory, creator of the show thirtysomething, and executive producer of My So-Called Life, gives a dishy, behind-the-scenes look at working with some of the biggest names in Hollywood. In conversation with Cheryl Boone Isaacs.

Co-presented by ASU's Sidney Poitier New American Film School.
ASU's Sidney Poitier New American Film School


“I’ll be dropping a few names,” Ed Zwick confesses in the introduction to his book. “Over the years I have worked with self-proclaimed masters-of-the-universe, unheralded geniuses, hacks, sociopaths, savants, and saints.”

He has encountered these Hollywood types during four decades of directing, producing, and writing projects that have collectively received eighteen Academy Award nominations (seven wins) and sixty-seven Emmy nominations (twenty-two wins). Though there are many factors behind such success, including luck and the contributions of his creative partner Marshall Herskovitz, he’s known to have a special talent for bringing out the best in the people he’s worked with, especially the actors. In those intense collaborations, he’s sought to discover the small pieces of connective tissue, vulnerability, and fellowship that can help an actor realize their character in full.

Talents whom he spotted early include Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Denzel Washington, Claire Danes, and Jared Leto. Established stars he worked closely with include Leonardo DiCaprio, Anthony Hopkins, Tom Cruise, Julia Roberts, Anne Hathaway, Daniel Craig, Jake Gyllenhaal, Bruce Willis, Demi Moore, and Jennifer Connelly. He also sued Harvey Weinstein over the production of Shakespeare in Love—and won. He shares personal stories about all these people, and more.

Written mostly with love, sometimes with rue, this memoir is also a meditation on working, sprinkled throughout with tips for anyone who has ever imagined writing, directing, or producing for the screen. Fans with an appreciation for the beautiful mysteries—as well as the unsightly, often comic truths—of crafting film and television won’t want to miss it.


Ed Zwick is an Academy Award and Emmy Award–winning director, writer, and producer of film and television. A graduate of Harvard and the AFI Conservatory, he lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Liberty Godshall.


Cheryl Boone Isaacs is the Founding Director of Arizona State University’s Sidney Poitier New American Film School where she leads from the California Center as well as from Tempe and Mesa. She is a past president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. As President and CEO of CBI Enterprises, Inc. Boone Isaacs has consulted for companies such as MTV Films, Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures, Lionsgate and Sony Entertainment. She previously served as president of theatrical marketing for New Line Cinema and was executive vice president of worldwide publicity for Paramount Pictures. She has an Honorary Doctorate from Chapman University Dodge College of Film and Media Arts and the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. From 2013 through 2016, Ms. Isaacs served as Chair of District 16, Rhodes scholarship selection committee. Boone Isaacs was inducted into the NAACP Hall of Fame and a Trustee Emeritus of AFI Board of Trustees.