A true insider’s guide filled with sweet surprises for fans and the brainy charm to make new ones.

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WELCOME TO DUNDER MIFFLIN

THE ULTIMATE ORAL HISTORY OF THE OFFICE

A comprehensive view of the landmark TV show.

Don’t be fooled by Baumgartner’s character on The Office, the lovable oaf Kevin Malone. This definitive oral history he created with executive producer Silverman is as sharp and well crafted as the groundbreaking comedy that inspired it. The American version of The Officemade stars out of those on both sides of the camera. Steve Carell and John Krasinski became A-list celebrities, while creator and showrunner Greg Daniels has developed hits like Parks and Recreation. Baumgartner gets all of them, as well as nearly everyone else involved with the show, to talk about how it came together and why it became such an enduring success. (Notably absent from the discussions are writers/actors Mindy Kaling and B.J. Novak.) Because he was a part of the process, Baumgartner is able to steer the conversations in well-informed ways—e.g., explaining why the ratings were even more important than usual to the experimental show and why they dictated NBC’s approvals of only a handful episodes at a time in the early years. Because Baumgartner’s Kevin was not the fake documentary’s central character (Carell’s awkward regional manager Michael Scott) or part of the love story (Krasinski’s Jim and Jenna Fischer’s Pam) at its core, he is able to observe more of the big picture than those in the eye of the publicity storm. He and Silverman also do a great job showing how shifting viewing habits—especially The Office’s stunning popularity on iTunes and now in reruns on streaming services—pushed it to new levels of popularity. Comedy is rarely simple, but the authors show how complex it was to make such a forward-thinking product. The contributors discuss their wide-ranging influences, including Molière, Aristophanes’ The Frogs, the visual style of Survivor, and the comedic timing of King of the Hill. They also discuss the agonizing decision-making processes behind the show’s major moments.

A true insider’s guide filled with sweet surprises for fans and the brainy charm to make new ones.

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-308219-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Custom House/Morrow

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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A refreshing celebrity memoir focused not strictly on the self but on a much larger horizon.

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WILL

One of Hollywood’s biggest stars delivers a memoir of success won through endless, relentless work and self-reckoning.

“My imagination is my gift, and when it merges with my work ethic, I can make money rain from the heavens.” So writes Smith, whose imagination is indeed a thing of wonder—a means of coping with fear, an abusive father with the heart of a drill instructor, and all manner of inner yearnings. The author’s imagination took him from a job bagging ice in Philadelphia to initial success as a partner in the Grammy-winning rap act DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. Smith was propelled into stardom thanks to the ministrations of Quincy Jones, who arranged an audition in the middle of his own birthday party, bellowing “No paralysis through analysis!” when Smith begged for time to prepare. The mantra—which Jones intoned 50-odd times during the two hours it took for the Hollywood suits to draw up a contract for the hit comedy series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air—is telling, for hidden within this memoir lies a powerful self-help book. For Smith, all of life is a challenge in which one’s feelings are largely immaterial. “I watched my father’s negative emotions seize control of his ample intellect and cause him over and over again to destroy beautiful parts of our family,” he writes, good reason for him to sublimate negativity in the drive to get what he wanted—money, at first, and lots of it, which got him in trouble with the IRS in the early 1990s. Smith, having developed a self-image that cast him as a coward, opines that one’s best life is lived by facing up to the things that hold us back. “I’ve been making a conscious effort to attack all the things that I’m scared of,” he writes, adding, “And this is scary.” It’s a good lesson for any aspiring creative to ponder—though it helps to have Smith’s abundant talent, too.

A refreshing celebrity memoir focused not strictly on the self but on a much larger horizon.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984877-92-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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A sharp, entertaining view of the news media from one of its star players.

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GOING THERE

The veteran newscaster reflects on her triumphs and hardships, both professional and private.

In this eagerly anticipated memoir, Couric (b. 1957) transforms the events of her long, illustrious career into an immensely readable story—a legacy-preserving exercise, for sure, yet judiciously polished and insightful, several notches above the fray of typical celebrity memoirs. The narrative unfolds through a series of lean chapters as she recounts the many career ascendency steps that led to her massively successful run on the Today Show and comparably disappointing stints as CBS Evening News anchor, talk show host, and Yahoo’s Global News Anchor. On the personal front, the author is candid in her recollections about her midlife adventures in the dating scene and deeply sorrowful and affecting regarding the experience of losing her husband to colon cancer as well as the deaths of other beloved family members, including her sister and parents. Throughout, Couric maintains a sharp yet cool-headed perspective on the broadcast news industry and its many outsized personalities and even how her celebrated role has diminished in recent years. “It’s AN ADJUSTMENT when the white-hot spotlight moves on,” she writes. “The ego gratification of being the It girl is intoxicating (toxic being the root of the word). When that starts to fade, it takes some getting used to—at least it did for me.” Readers who can recall when network news coverage and morning shows were not only relevant, but powerfully influential forces will be particularly drawn to Couric’s insights as she tracks how the media has evolved over recent decades and reflects on the negative effects of the increasing shift away from reliable sources of informed news coverage. The author also discusses recent important cultural and social revolutions, casting light on issues of race and sexual orientation, sexism, and the predatory behavior that led to the #MeToo movement. In that vein, she expresses her disillusionment with former co-host and friend Matt Lauer.

A sharp, entertaining view of the news media from one of its star players.

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-53586-1

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: yesterday

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