Don Draper may be the greatest F. Scott Fitzgerald character the author never created.
You’re reminded of the similarities between the “Mad Men” protagonist and the St. Paul native’s tragic heroes in “The Last Tycoon,” a lavish and lewd new series debuting Friday on Amazon Prime.
The shame over humble roots. Disillusionment with the entitled life. A weakness for women. It’s all pumping through the damaged heart of Hollywood mogul Monroe Stahr, played by Matt Bomer with such perfect detachment that he could have stepped in for Jon Hamm on the Emmy-winning AMC series and viewers wouldn’t have blinked.
Based on Fitzgerald’s final novel, the story is set on the brink of World War II, as the decline of the Jazz Age crosses paths with the rise of Adolf Hitler. Stahr seems all too aware that the glory days are waning, even while any and every character in a skirt swoons whenever he breezes onto a set.
Fitzgerald has always been a tough nut to crack, in large part because his stories depend more on inner turmoil than physical action. But creator Billy Ray, who wrote the screenplays for 2013’s “Captain Phillips” and 2003’s “Shattered Glass,” enlivens the nine-part mope session with elaborate tap numbers and vigorous sex scenes.
The stuffed olive in the martini is Kelsey Grammer as studio boss Pat Brady, who is more concerned about keeping his business afloat than getting caught by his lonely wife (“Mad Men” alum Rosemarie DeWitt) in the arms of one of his secretaries.
If you’ve been waiting for a worthwhile adaptation of Fitzgerald, take notice. The soiree is about to begin.