As a former Paramount executive and the editor in chief of Variety — the entertainment-industry trade paper that coined the word boffo — Peter Bart is superbly placed to write about Tinseltown. And he does so here in very simple, very workmanlike prose, dissecting hits and potential misses from 1915’s racist epic smash Birth of a Nation to 1955’s 20-year-running TV stalwart Gunsmoke to the Internet-fueled buzz of 1999’s The Blair Witch Project. While the 27 movies, stage musicals, and TV shows featured here have all been written about in more depth elsewhere, Boffo! offers breezy, quick hits on all of them in one place. It’s mostly surface, perfectly Hollywood.