Review by Choice Review
According to the authors, this is a reader's guide to the work of the most important creative personalities who have shaped American entertainment-television programming. They contend TV is a quasi-religious art form produced by individual artists with whom the general public is unfamiliar an unfamiliarity bred by McCarthy era blacklists, the ordinariness of everday TV viewing, and the desire of critics to keep TV outside the pale of legitimate art. They see the executive producers of sit-coms, action/adventure series, game shows, and docudramas as the auteurs of commercial television progamming and they present 28 producers they feel have been most influential in the development of existing TV genres. Some, like Norman Lear, Jack Webb, and Ken Burns are widely known; others are indeed osbscure. Each is presented through a vignette briefly describing place of birth, parents, schooling and their climb to success in the TV industry. The names, dates, characters (and actors) and plotlines of their successful and unsuccessful shows are presented along with comments designed to reveal how these auteurs met the exigencies of their time. This is a handy reference for anyone wanting to know, for example, who wrote the popular TV soap operas, who had the most sit-coms in the top ten, when Ron Howard left Happy Days, and what led David Wolper to produce docudramas. There are many interesting facts for TV buffs, and for Trivia players is is a gold mine. Serious scholars, however, will miss the insights and analysis that could explain why producing TV programs is not like writing books or making films and, incidentally, why TV producers and directors are so little known or sought out by the public or the critics. R. Cathcart; Queens College, CUNY
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.