A consummate, highly revealing, expertly assembled study of how HBO indelibly changed TV.

TINDERBOX

HBO'S RUTHLESS PURSUIT OF NEW FRONTIERS

A retrospective of HBO’s nearly half-century of multiplex programming portrayed through the words of a cavalcade of celebrities, developers, and innovators.

Using material from more than 750 interviews with a host of insiders, noted journalist Miller presents an exhaustive account of the network’s pioneering projects. In a well-rendered, frequently surprising chronicle, the author covers seemingly every inch of ground: HBO’s “treacherous birth” in 1972, early ups and downs, the use of satellite technology, and the development of groundbreaking movies, award-winning documentaries, uncensored comedy, and unique sports programming, which elevated televised boxing matches to new heights. Miller spotlights many of HBO’s success stories through first-person commentary and ventures deep into how these history-making shows were developed, produced, and became hits. The histories of classics like The Larry Sanders Show; the “stunning trifecta” of Sex and the City, The Sopranos, and Curb Your Enthusiasm; Game of Thrones; and even the decadeslong run of the voyeuristic Taxicab Confessions are fascinating to read, all recounted via the memories of those who were there. Many of Miller’s interviewees viscerally describe the stress, struggle, joys, and pains of being on a consistently successful hit show where “cast, crew, and network executives get tossed together in a pressure cooker for years on end, and it’s rare that some don’t suffer accordingly.” This was especially true for the Sopranos team and its star, James Gandolfini, who struggled with addiction and, once he became an irreplaceable commodity to the network, leveraged his power to his ultimate advantage. Though the text is more than 1,000 pages, its length is justified by the sheer amount of insightful commentary, juicy insider opinions, and celebrity and executive melodrama. Collectively, the chorus of voices creates an informative and compelling indulgence about how a particular culture of entertainment is formed and fostered. In that sense, the book recalls Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN, which Miller co-authored with Tom Shales.

A consummate, highly revealing, expertly assembled study of how HBO indelibly changed TV.

Pub Date: Nov. 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-62401-7

Page Count: 1024

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 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: Dec. 1, 2021

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A refreshingly candid, fearless look into a model’s body of work and its impact on her identity and politics.

MY BODY

The international model embarks on a nuanced investigation of her body and identity.

Ratajkowski’s exploration of fame, self-identity, and what it means to be a “beautiful” woman is surprisingly engaging. Originally thrust into the spotlight in 2013 due to her scantily clad appearance in the music video for Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” the author eventually became known for her stances about beauty and sexuality and how they are commodified. Now that she is a wife and mother, she writes, “I feel a tenderness toward my younger self. My defensiveness and defiance are palpable to me now. What I wrote and preached then reflected what I believed at the time, but it missed a much more complicated picture. In many ways, I have been undeniably rewarded by capitalizing on my sexuality….But in other, less overt ways, I’ve felt objectified and limited by my position in the world as a so-called sex symbol.” This short book includes the juicy tidbits that avid celebrity-memoir readers seek, and the author shares how she really felt about the video shoot and how the aftermath affected her. Beyond that, the book is a reflective coming-of-age-in-the-industry tale, a story that is never maudlin but contains a few thick, murky sections. Ratajkowski attempts to break down the construction of her identity and sexuality in relation to the ever present male gaze as well as her relationships with the women in her life. The charm of this book lies in the author’s largely relatable writing, which shows the complex emotions and confusion of a young woman experiencing her sexual development and maturation into a capable adult. Admitting that the “purpose of the book is not to arrive at answers, but honestly to explore ideas I can’t help but return to,” Ratajkowski grapples directly with a host of thorny issues.

A refreshingly candid, fearless look into a model’s body of work and its impact on her identity and politics.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-81786-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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