Seinfeld, Friends, Frasier, ER, Cheers, Law & Order, Will & Grace… Here is the funny, splashy, irresistible insiders’ account of the greatest era in television history - told by the actors, writers, directors, producers, and the network executives who made it happen… and watched it all fall apart.
Warren Littlefield was the NBC President of Entertainment who oversaw the Peacock Network’s rise from also-ran to a division that generated a billion dollars in profits. In this fast-paced and exceptionally entertaining oral history, Littlefield and NBC luminaries including Jerry Seinfeld, Jason Alexander, Kelsey Grammer, Matt LeBlanc, Lisa Kudrow, Julianna Marguiles, Anthony Edwards, Noah Wylie, Debra Messing, Jack Welch, Jimmy Burrows, Helen Hunt, and Dick Wolf vividly recapture the incredible era of Must See TV.
From 1993 through 1998, NBC exploded every conventional notion of what a broadcast network could accomplish with the greatest prime-time line-up in television history. On Thursday nights, a cavalcade of groundbreaking comedies and dramas streamed into homes, attracting a staggering 75 million viewers and generating more revenue than all other six nights of programming combined. The road to success, however, was a rocky one. How do you turn a show like Seinfeld, one of the lowest testing pilots of all time, into a hit when the network overlords are constantly warring, or worse, drowning in a bottle of vodka?
Top of the Rock is an addictively readable account of the risky business decisions, creative passion, and leaps of faith that made Must See TV possible. Chock full of delicious behind-the-scenes anecdotes that run the gamut from hilarious casting and programming ploys to petty jealousies and drug interventions, you’re in for a juicy, unputdownable read.
©2012 Warren Littlefield (P)2012 Random House Audio
"To detail the exuberant 1990s’ events in the Peacock Network’s ascendancy (with such shows as Frasier, Friends, Seinfeld, Will & Grace, and ER) Littlefield and novelist Pearson interviewed more than 50 actors, writers, producers, agents and executives... Littlefield unleashed a ‘financial geyser’ at NBC, and these revelatory glimpses of those glory days make this one of the more entertaining books published about the television industry.” (Publishers Weekly)
"Littlefield's compulsively readable saga, Top of the Rock, is a great tale of folly." (Dick Donahue for PW)
"With entertaning insider's perspective, Littlefield transports readers back to a seemingly magical time when half the country would watch the same show." (Kirkus)
Probably not. The writing and performance were extremely bland.
Much of the book were transcripts of interviews, and Balaban's performance did nothing to help the listener discern who was speaking. For example:
Warren Littlefield: It was a terrific time for us at NBC.
Jennifer Aniston: Yes, we felt we could really get into our roles without too much network interefence.
Bland, bland, bland.
Say something about yourself!
A really good history of the TV industry during the go-go years. Great fun if you were there and illuminating for anyone in the industry at the time.
Hearing about the exciting events of the time from my favorite writers and stars.
Live From New York (the SNL book). EXCEPT this book is much, much better to listen to because it (a) is not as long and boring, and (b) only has one narrator. The SNL book had too many narrators, which was really distracting.
He did a good job of reflecting the meaning of the words behind the quotes, without trying to imitate Seinfeld, for example.
It's not that kind of book. But I guess the most impressive thing was all the moving parts that went into the successful spinoff of Frasier, especially considering how many things could have gone wrong, and how many spinoff disasters there have been before and since.
Really awesome book for anyone that loves TV.
I enjoy Bob Balaban, television history and comedy.
This book is just a collection of quote after quote after quote. Perhaps reading it is ok, but listening to it is so disjointed and annoying.
This is how it is presented..."Sean Hayes. We got to the set on the first day. It was nerve wracking. Debra Messing. I couldn't believe how great everyone was. I was so excited. Warren Littlefied. I knew this cast had something special from day one." Etc. Imagine an entire audio book of that.
I enjoyed the SNL book that was a lot of quotes. I also enjoyed The Late Shift and its sequel. This was just not compelling.
Also upon reaching the ending, it is nothing but Warren Littlefield saying how great he was and how amazing his era of must see tv was. How his being fired was a huge mistake and they will never have anything like that again and his greatness is to be remembered. It's a bit much. Another reviewer mentioned they heard him in an interview and ran out and got the book. I also heard him on a radio show and he seemed nice and interesting. But this is a terrible book.
I do not recommend. Thanks.
This behind the scenes book is a light, quick read. If you remember watching ER, Frasier, and Friends, you'll like the book.
You will really love this book. Full of details and inside stories about the rise of Friends, Seinfeld, Will and Grace and many other shows. A great listen!
I lived during the age of must see TV. i was one of those people who watched Seinfeld, ER, etc. religiously. And yes we would discuss the shows next day at work. The book is a behind the scenes look at how the process worked. I found it fascinating.
The best part of this is the sort of business school-like case studies about managing creative ventures in the totally irrational marketplace of show business. It's a series of brief interviews from different vantage points.
It's not deep, nor thorough, slightly self serving, but I was entertained and it went by really quick. I recommend it.
Bob Balaban does a really solid read.
This is the first book that annoyed me enough to write a review.
I heard an interview with Mr. Littlefield discussing the book and immediately bought it. I was horribly disappointed. The book is a compilation of quotes from dozens of people, many of which I'm sure are important but I have never heard of, that fail to cohesively tell stories. It is a horribly lazy way to relay stories that people would otherwise love to hear. I suspect it would be slightly better in book format, but still annoying. After the first hour of listening, I couldn't take any more; I tried to skip through the rest, only to give up after realizing it is just as bad throughout.
Interesting, Want More
I didn't feel like he sugar-coated anything when it came to Don Ohlmeyer. They are definitely not friends and he did not hold back in sharing what kind of boss he was. It amazes me that Don Ohlmeyer made it as far in his career as he did. It was nice to hear about how different shows came to fruition...who they tried to get for the characters of Friends, who passed, etc... For me that was the best. When it got to the business part of things (stock options, etc...) I would find my mind trailing off. When it came to the celebrities, he held them more with kid gloves, but it was still interesting to hear about the behind the scenes activities and what could have happened and what did happen. If you are interested in how Friends, Cheers, Frasier, Seinfield, ER, and all of those shows how they got off the ground, you should find this a good listen.
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