William Goldman, The Season: A Candid Look at Broadway (Harcourt, Brace & World, 1969)
Published in paperback by Proscenium in 1984
Goldman, now one of Hollywood's best screenwriters, tackled Broadway as his first nonfiction subject. Spending a total of 18 months seeing as many Broadway shows as he could and interviewing as many people as he could, Goldman covers everything about the 1967-68 season ("I suppose I had fewer than 1,000 interviews," he writes, "but not many"). It didn't hurt that he had previously written musicals and plays and rewritten others.
By honing his focus so tightly on a specific season, Goldman frees himself up to make assessments about Broadway that go far beyond the particular season he writes about. Despite the thirty some years since The Season was first published, there are several reasons why it is still necessary reading for journalists covering Broadway. Goldman's depiction of Broadway personalities is evocative and entertaining – his first chapter, about the season's opening show, "Judy Garland at Home at the Palace," is a model example of how to describe a seemingly bizarre phenomenon (Judy Garland fandom) so that it makes sense and is interesting to readers who thought they couldn't care less. But Goldman also writes about the business of Broadway, not just its personalities. The Season is a relatively unique instance of a book that hasn't lost its potency just because it was published long ago in 1969; there seems to be fewer fundamental changes in the way the institution functions than there has been in Hollywood, for example, where the Old and New Hollywood are relatively different entities. And Goldman doesn't treat his subject anthropologically. His affection for the subject he covers is evident in the vibrancy and wit of his writing. The Season makes you palpably realize how overrated restrained, zero degree journalism is.
Website with Broadway news and discussions
The official Broadway website
The Internet Broadway Database is a useful website for looking up facts and dates
Writers Guild of America interview with Goldman
Filmmaker.com short profile of Goldman