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Christian Bale: The Inside Story of the Darkest Batman [Paperback]

Harrison Cheung , Nicola Pittam

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Book Description

May 29 2012
The darkest Batman is unmasked.

During the London press junket for The Dark Knight in the summer of 2008, Christian Bale was infamously accused of assaulting his mother and sister at the five-star Dorchester Hotel. Six months later, a recording of Bale’s rant on the set of Terminator Salvation was leaked, and the star’s anger began to define him.

But beyond his notorious temper, Bale, an Academy Award-winning actor for his role in The Fighter, is known for his ability to physically transform himself for roles in American Psycho, The Machinist, and as one of Hollywood’s most revered and bankable characters—Batman.

In Christian Bale: The Inside Story of the Darkest Batman, Best Biography winner in the 2013 Indie Excellence Awards and finalist in the 2013 Indie Book Awards, Bale’s former publicist and assistant Harrison Cheung—his real-life Alfred—shares an inside look into the little-known personal life of the intensely private and reclusive actor. In the first biography of the Batman star, Cheung, who lived and worked with Christian and his father for 10 years, shares firsthand accounts of the Bales’ familial dysfunction, Christian’s morbid fascinations and dark humor, and his extreme dedication to his craft.

Aware that Bale hated his traditional publicity duties, Cheung launched an extensive Internet marketing campaign for the actor, built the first official actor website for him, and cultivated the Baleheads, an online fan community that was used to garner editorial coverage and ultimately help Bale secure the role of the Caped Crusader.

Written with veteran Hollywood and entertainment reporter Nicola Pittam, Christian Bale: The Inside Story of the Darkest Batman uncovers Bale’s transformation from shy, English child actor to Internet sensation to Hollywood bad boy.

*FOR DISTRIBUTION IN THE U.S. AND CANADA ONLY*

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Review

"When (Cheung) refers to himself as Bale's majordomo, he is not kidding."
N.F. Mendoza, former journalist at Los Angeles Times, People, TV Guide

"This intimate and revealing biography of Christian Bale is full of details few people know about Hollywood’s most-lauded Batman, and how a child actor—by harnessing his fans on the Internet—became the star he is today."
BraveNewHollywood.com

"A new picture of Christian Bale emerges..."
Huffington Post

"Cheung's first-hand observations of Bale's rising career and early roles—including Patrick Bateman in American Psycho—provide an interesting perspective on the making of a star..."
Publishers Weekly

"A 'Must Read' for Summer"
Austin Monthly

"Recommended Summer Reading List"
Los Angeles Magazine

"'What's Hot for Summer' List"
Tribute Magazine

"Three stars — Batman's former wingman speaks out!"
Jamie Russell, Total Film

"The book is good - a fun, informative read."
Christopher Heard, author and film historian

"...a revelatory glimpse into Bale’s personal life... it does contain much interesting information for fans."
Movie Maker

"More than just a tell-all expose. Make no mistake, Cheung was privy to a fair amount of behind-the-scenes drama."
Hamilton Magazine

"Great Book."
Melissa Cronin, The Daily

"One of the best biographies of the year."
Kathryn Raaker, Let's Just Talk

"3 1/2 stars — a gripping read!"
Filmophilia

About the Author

Meet the real-life Alfred! Harrison Cheung worked for Christian Bale as publicist, marketer, and personal assistant for almost a decade. As a family friend and confidant, Harrison was involved with practically every aspect of Christian’s life, including his publicity, finances, immigration, fan mail, and, of course, web marketing. With web marketing, Harrison created the Baleheads – Christian’s online fan community – and made him the biggest star on the Internet. Entertainment Weekly touted Bale as one of the "Top Cult Figures of the Past Decade" because of his Internet presence.

Born in Scotland and educated in Canada, Harrison has been writing all of his life. His first novel, Idol Worship, was a finalist in the Writers' Guild Fiction competition. In 2002, he produced an award-winning short film called Rising of the Moon, about IRA hunger striker, Bobby Sands. Most recently, his short story, Witness, won Honorable Mention in Glimmer Train’s 2010 Short Fiction competition. He is currently working on a series of novels.

Harrison is a digital marketing professional at IBM, where he earned an Innovation Award for his work in Internet marketing. He lives in Austin, Texas.

Nicola Pittam has been living and working in Los Angeles for the past fourteen years as a celebrity news journalist. She supplies news and features to a variety of publications in the U.S. and the U.K. including The New York Post, USA TODAY, People Magazine, Us Weekly, TMZ, RadarOnline, London Times, The Telegraph, The Sun, The Mirror, Daily Mail, Hello!, OK, Glamour, and Cosmopolitan.

She has also written a biography with Angie Best – ex-wife of England’s most famous soccer player George Best and fitness trainer to world-renowned entertainer Cher. George And Me: An Autobiography was published in the U.K. by Virgin Publishing in September 2001.

Nicola started her career as a writer at the age of 19 when she wrote for her local paper in Northampton, England. She has come a long way since then, including spending almost four years, from the ages of 22 to 26, working for Rupert Murdoch's Sun newspaper in London, which is the highest selling daily newspaper in the UK. Nicola, now 40, still writes for all the British daily newspapers, based in Los Angeles but reporting from across America. In addition, she is working on several scripts including a TV pilot and a YA novel.

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Amazon.com: 2.7 out of 5 stars  27 reviews
84 of 96 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Cruel, Vile Betrayal by Disgruntled, Reprehensible 'Fan-Boy' June 3 2012
By Movie Gal With a Brain - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A poorly written, distasteful, and embarrassingly vengeful attack on Bale revealing the most ALL-TOO intimate, personal and vulnerable details of Bale's life. Co-author Harrison Cheung started off as an Internet Bale 'Fan-Boy' when the technology was breaking through. After receiving a letter of appreciation from Bale, he pitched a marketing proposal to him for Internet Promotion, utilizing then-popular discussion boards on sites like AOL to spread the word on Christian's films. At the time, Harrison termed Christian's fans "Baleheads." Cheung was welcomed into Bale's family on a very personal and private level, with the full knowledge that they couldn't afford to pay him immediately. Cheung goes to great lengths to outline just how financially strapped Bale was thanks to his father's overindulgence, forcing him to purchase a home with a mortgage above his means, forcing him to move to America and not attend University in the UK with his girlfriend. Cheung paints such a sympathetic picture of Bale that, when he turns on him, and reveals things so private you feel like you are a perverted voyeur reading stolen notes from a patient's private journal, you want to reach into the book and punch Cheung in the face repeatedly. While Cheung does deserve credit for building his fan base on the Internet when it was an unknown commodity, getting him press coverage, it had no impact on Bale's ability to get roles. It was Bale who defied his agent and father with regard to AMERICAN PSYCHO, aggressively pursuing the project and getting it on his own. Cheung did expose Bale to Frank Miller's BATMAN works and did change his mind on playing Batman. Cheung also did aggressively seed the Internet Batman fan posts on the Net with the concept that Bale SHOULD be the next Batman, and the advance press articles did help him get on the radar. Yet, Cheung had quit working for Bale long before casting for BATMAN BEGINS began. In the end, just weeks before Warner Bros. made its casting choice, Bale was still competing with several actors for the role, including Hugh Dancy, Eion Bailey, Henry Cavill, Billy Crudup, Jake Gyllenhaal, Joshua Jackson, an Cillian Murphy. Competition was so fierce, actors were still test reading. So much for Cheung's internet campaign being such a powerful factor in getting Bale the part. Again, Bale got the part based on his talent as an actor, not anything Cheung did.

Cheung spends 210 pages revealing Bale's deepest, darkest, most personal and private secrets. Some too unmentionable to repeat. Cheung, with obvious glee and a sick sense of satisfaction, details Bale's tragic personal life. From his early childhood, how extremely traumatic the press tour for EMPIRE OF THE SUN was on him, how despite it his father continued to force acting on him, how his father psychologically manipulated Bale into continually finding himself in debt and facing IRS tax leans for over a decade, how Bale's father planted seeds that led to Bale's permanent separation from his mother and sisters - all of this ultimately robbing him of a childhood. Bales' father also squashed his passion to attend University in the UK with his girlfriend, and also his desire to live in the UK. All of this was done so Bale's father could realize a Hollywood dream for himself. Through the whole 210 pages, Cheung CONSTANTLY stresses how broke Bale's father kept him, and how his father's raising and manipulation of him left him a broken man. Then, after Bale had completed the MACHINIST, he finally broke ties with his father and did something with Cheung his father should have done upon engaging his services 10 years earlier. Bale wanted no more manipulation from anyone, and asked Cheung to sign a standard NDA. Anyone who has ever even INTERVIEWED for a job with ANY entertainment company knows these are standard. ANY ENTERTAINMENT COMPANY. While, this pushed old Cheung over the edge. And he quit. The NDA was in preparation for Bale's Production Company, which he was financially in the position to FINALLY put together. Cheung states 'It was part of Christian's odd sense of entitlement that he'd think I would sign an NDA, while we were still figuring out what he was going to pay me, and what my role would be in his production company." THIS IS WHY CELEBRITIES SHOULD ALWAYS AVOID WORKING WITH INTERNET FAN-BOYS. Fan-boy Cheung was 'giggly with glee' at being asked to work for his ultimate Idol, and took it on with no issues at it being a non-paying gig. He then offered more personal services when he was taken in as part of the family - clearly proven in this book by how much they shared with him, which he has now disgustingly documented for the world to read. After admitting for 210 pages that his idol was broke for 10 years, and Bale was in the process of making good on his promise that he would be a part of his production company as soon as he could afford it, Cheung refused to sign a NDA and walked. Cheung sites Bale's well-know temper, outbursts, anger-issues, outrageous demands, and behavioral problems. Yet, anyone who has worked in Hollywood knows, Bale's behavior is no different than many other of the most talented Actors and Directors in Hollywood. Jim Cameron can be an intolerable tyrant, but boy can he make art. More than that, Cheung knew the reasons behind Bale's issues on a very intimate level, and instead of doing what any Hollywood professional would have done - accept who their employer was after 10 years of learning who he was and seized the opportunity of a lifetime - he walked like a little 'Fan-Boy' brat. He then said he was shocked when Bale wrote him a glowing reference to actor Jake Gyllenhaal when the actor was considering hiring Cheung for internet promo work.

This book guarantees Cheung's work in Hollywood is over. It probably has been over for sometime. You burn an actor like Bale in such a cruel, unprofessional and inhumane way, no one in Hollywood will ever touch you. After all, YOU COULD BE NEXT. It all comes down to every Fan-Boy's attitude. Because they view themselves as loyal fans who build sites, post on the net, buy a hundred comic books a year, or buy every Blu-Ray edition of AVATAR, they feel they somehow 'own' a piece of a property, comic book character, film series or actor. They feel they should have a say in how they should be adapted into films. They feel the actor owes them something. It's clear from the book's beginning, as an actor, Bale was always motivated by his own sense of art and his private sense of artistic integrity. He was always going to do it his way. He doesn't owe his fans anything. And his privacy is his own.

It's just a shame Bale's father pushed this douche-bag Cheung on him back in 1993, and that Christian Bale actually trusted him.

DON'T MAKE THE MISTAKE I DID BY PUTTING MONEY INTO HARRISON CHEUNG'S POCKET. AND, NO HARRISON - YOU IN NO WAY MADE HIM A PHENOMENON.
28 of 33 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars More of a tell all than a biography June 3 2012
By K. L. Scott - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Cheung claims this book is a biography, but it's really a thinly veiled "tell all", and, as is the case of most tell alls, the author really ends up looking worse than the subject. He spends the majority of the book describing Christian Bale's fathers quirks and asserting that he was trying to live vicariously through Christian, ironically seeming to miss that he is doing the exact same thing by writing this book and trying to make money off of it. Cheung also speaks very highly of the Internet marketing he did for Christian Bale, and takes a lot of credit for the way the Internet is used to market celebrities and movies today.

Beyond the obviously self-serving purpose behind the book, it is sloppily written and redundant. There were multiple instances during my read that I thought I went back a page because he was retelling a story that he had just mentioned on a previous page.
23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Typical disgruntled ex-employee trying to cash in June 11 2012
By Jess - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
I would like to state that I have read this book and I am a fan of Christian Bale's work. I do not believe Mr. Bale to be some type of perfect godlike creature. I decided to read this book because I find Mr. Bale to be a rare breed in today's acting circles. He is an A-List actor yet he can still lead a relatively low profile life. Here is my review:

The only good thing about this book is that it burns easily. Mr. Cheung tries to market this book to Bale fans only to reveal some very private and potentially embarassing moments of his once so called close friend and brother. I did not find the exploitation of Mr. Bale's teenage and young adult years in good taste. These supposed tales of his young woes were not relevant in any way to how he became an internet success or how he became the acclaimed actor that he is today.

Mr Cheung intruded on Mr. Bale's privacy in the most cruel of ways by revealing Mr. Bale's daughter's true name and exposing a painful and fractured relationship between Mr. Bale his now deceased father. Revealing his daughter's name was the most shameful.

The true nature of Mr. Cheung's book is divulged once he lets it be known that he parted ways with Mr. Bale over his refusing to sign a NDA. What better way for a disgruntled ex-assistant to get back at his former boss than to pen a tell-all book. Seems like Mr. Bale knew what he was doing when he requested a NDA in the first place.

It is very clear upon completion of this biography that Mr. Cheung has more psychological problems that Mr. Bale could ever have and is out for blood. The overall purpose of this book is lost by the end. Was it to give the readers an insight on Mr. Bale's life or an author's way to vent over a bad breakup. Their relationship has been over for a decade. Mr.Cheung has nothing to offer on the recent years of Mr. Bale's successess. Time to move on Mr. Cheung and focus on your own life and let your connection with Bale be what it was. A thing of the past.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Hypocrisy March 17 2013
By LillyRose - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I think it"s funny that the author spends the whole book demonizing Christian's father for exploiting Christian for money only to turn around and do the same thing with this book. I also think it is hurtful that the author is attacking Christian's father because Christian has always spoken highly of his relationship with his father publicly, so the book seems intentionally disrespectful (plus, his father is not alive to defend himself). It's pretty clear that Christian strongly values his personal life, so this book seems like the ultimate betrayal.

I also hated that the author takes all the credit for Christian's success simply because he made a fan site. I'm a Christian Bale fan and I had never heard of this website. I became a fan by reading reviews about his performances.

I also think it's stupid that the author portrays himself as a victim and Christian as some sort of angry tyrant. They didn't have a contract with each other nor was Christian officially paying him, so he could have left at any time if Christian was so hard to be around. This guy is not a certified PR person, agent or any of the other titles that he claimed to be in this book. If any thing the author was just a fanboy who followed Christian around and Christian just let him. They only met because Christian answered his fan letters.

Another problem with the book is he writes about Christian's life after they stopped working together, which means that those parts of the book are pure tabloid speculation. Which makes sense because the book is co-authored by a tabloid writer. There is no way of knowing that these parts of the book are actually accurate. The authors motives seem clear because the only reason why they stopped working together is Christian wanted him to sign a nondisclosure agreement. This basically means that the author is doing what Christian feared that he would do, which is exploit his personal life.

After reading this book you will get the message that Christian's anger stems from the fact that he was taken advantage of and exploited by the people around him. Sadly, the author and this book is just another example of this exploitation. I feel guilty for spending money on this book because I feel that I rewarded a person who is exploiting someone who has been exploited all of his life. If you are a Christian Bale fan don't make the same mistake I made by rewarding this betrayal. Plus the book doesn't really tell you anything that you couldn't figure out by reading Christian's older interviews or tabloids. So it was a waste of money.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, Quick Read--but not Shakespeare July 7 2012
By V - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have four quibbles with this book: 1) it needs a good editor--Cheung often repeats information, and often more than once; 2) Cheung seems to think he's responsible for more of Christian Bale's success than seems reasonable; 3) most of the information provided after Cheung's personal relationship with Bale ended is skimpy and seems pulled off the Internet; and most seriously, 4) Cheung irresponsibly betrays private information about Bale's young daughter. If, in his role as biographer Cheung felt this information added something of note about Bale, he could have alluded to it without mentioning potentially security-threatening specifics.

As a fan--not worshipper--of Christian Bale's, I found the book overall to be a quick read that provides some interesting insight into Bale's behavior. Cheung has every right to tell his side of the story, and my impression is that throughout Cheung strives to be honest and fair (although he does hammer home the point that many of Bale's movies were "box office bombs"). Further, as someone who has had my own fair share of challenging bosses, at times I felt empathy with Cheung--although, like me, he chose to remain "employed" (albeit unpaid) by his challenging boss and benefitted from the relationship in many ways.

I've read other bios that were works of literature themselves. Make no mistake--this bio is not of that caliber. However, if you are fascinated by Christian Bale, or by how people achieve success, or by dysfunctional family dynamics, or by the long-suffering assistant's point of view, my guess is that, like me, you'll stay up way too late reading this hard-to-put-down book.
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