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Editorial Reviews

Dick Cavett's new collection of essays, drawn from his recent weekly column in The New York Times, does exactly what you expect, exactly as well as you expect it to. After 50 years in the talk show business, he has many great stories to tell and a sizable but casual wit with which to tell them. As a selection of his columns, this book collects not only the many historic moments in television that Cavett had a hand in, but also an array of amusing anecdotes from his childhood, and also his general opinions on contemporary politics and pop culture.

The essays are not arranged chronologically, and the ever nimble Cavett jumps from scene to scene with the ease of both the person who has been there, and the person who is accustomed to discussing it. Cavett reveals hilarious bits of his childhood, from an obsession with illegal firecrackers to the military precision with which he studied to become a magician. He weighs in on recent news headlines as a staunch liberal, including his thoughts about Sarah Palin, among other political figures. Of course, his behind-the-scenes look at writing material for Groucho Marx and Johnny Carson is fascinating, and his tales of celebrity horror are hilariously personal without getting too gossipy.

To have Cavett himself narrating the book is immediately and unmistakably a real treat. This experience feels like having Sunday dinner with your grandfather, except your grandfather is a deeply literate and highly animated character with a vast stockpile of friends in high places. Of particular delight are his terrifyingly good impersonations of Katharine Hepburn and John Wayne. Cavett tells of listening to Nixon strategize about how best to ruin him, the time a fitness expert died on stage in the middle of a taping, and his effort to contain an extended feud between Gore Vidal and Norman Mailer that famously boiled over during a live show. Spanning five decades and essentially covering highlights of the entire history of commercial television programming, there isn't a tedious moment in the whole book and you'll definitely want to pass these stories along. —Megan Volpert

Publisher's Summary

For years, Dick Cavett played host to the nation’s most famous personalities on his late-night talk show. In this humorous and evocative book, we get to hear Cavett's best tales, as he recounts great moments with the legendary entertainers who crossed his path and offers his own trenchant commentary on contemporary American culture and politics.

Pull up a chair and listen to Cavett's stories about one-upping Bette Davis, testifying on behalf of John Lennon, confronting Richard Nixon, scheming with John Updike, befriending William F. Buckley, and palling around with Groucho Marx. Sprinkled in are tales of his childhood in Nebraska in the 1940s and 1950s, where he honed his sense of comic timing and his love of magic.

Cavett is also a wry cultural observer, looking at America today and pointing out the foibles that we so often fail to notice about ourselves. And don't even get him started on politicians.

A generation of Americans ended their evenings in Dick Cavett's company. Talk Show is a way to welcome him back.

©2010 Richard A. Cavett (P)2010 Macmillan Audio

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Dennis
  • United States
  • 03-22-13

AT TIMES A GREAT LISTEN AND AT TIMES UNBEARABLE

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

YES, BUT WITH A WARNING. WHEN CAVETT TALKS ABOUT THE WRITERS, COMICS, MOVIE AND STAGE STARS HE HAS MET AND INTERVIEWED, THIS IS A GREAT BOOK. BUT WHEN HE GETS INTO HIS DISLIKE OF EVERYTHING REPUBLICAN, ESPECIALLY GEORGE BUSH OR SARAH PALIN, WHO CARES. HE MAY BE RIGHT IN ALL HIS OPINIONS BUT THE ELECTION IS LONG OVER AND THIS BOOK WAS PUBLISHED TWO YEARS AFTER MCCAIN LOST TO OBAMA- SO WHY INCLUDE POLITICS. THERE WAS NO NEED TO INCLUDE HIS POLITICAL RANTS. TO ME, THOSE CHAPTERS BRING THE BOOK DOWN FROM GREAT TO BEARABLE. AT TIMES I THOUGHT I WOULD GIVE UP LISTENING.

What could Dick Cavett have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

SKIP THE POLITICS.

Have you listened to any of Dick Cavett’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

NO

Could you see Talk Show being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

NO

Any additional comments?

CAVETT IS CLEARLY A BRIGHT GUY WITH A WONDERFUL HISTORY AS A SUPERSTAR INTERVIEWER. HIS RUN IN WITH NORMAN MAILER IS LEGENDARY. BUT WHY BORE THE READER WITH HIS RANTS ABOUT EVERYTHING REPUBLICAN. HE WRITES ABOUT WHAT A POOR SPEAKER SARAH PALIN WAS BUT IGNORES ALL OF JOE BIDEN'S GAFFS. HE TALKS OVER AND OVER ABOUT HOW BAD GEORGE BUSH WAS, BUT WE KNOW THAT AND IF WE WANT TO HEAR POLITICAL OPINION WE COULD TUNE IN FOX OR MSNBC. SO MR. CAVETT, IF YOU DO A NEW BOOK, PLEASE STICK TO WHAT YOU DO BEST, REMIND US WHAT A GREAT COMEDIAN GROCHO WAS OR WHAT A GREAT ACTOR RICHARD BURTON WAS. ENTERTAIN US, DON'T BORE US !

2 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Guy
  • Benson, NC, United States
  • 12-13-10

Dick is too smart for you!!!!!

This book is basically a compilation of all of Dick's columns for the NY Times. Cavett spends so much time complaining about George W. Bush's mispronounciation of the word NUCLEAR that one wonders how he ever had a career before Bush was president. He spends so much time bashing Bush(Probably helped get the gig at the NYT) that it makes you wonder how he has survived the last president's 2 terms without killing himself. Here is a good breakdown of the book: 10% Dick Cavett TV show memories 15% Dick telling you how stupid you are(He loves to use quotes in foreign languages and references to Shakespeare to get this point across) 15%Dick telling you about who he knows/knew and his great adventures with them 60% conservative bashing. Yes, Dick does show some kindness to John McCain, but McCain is not very popular with the conservative base. The book has some interesting moments such as when Dick describes the death of a guest on his show and his adventures as a child, but most of this is a series of trashy, condescending columns compiled into a "book." Read at your own risk, but remember you will always be a small person and too stupid to hang with Dick.

6 of 18 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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Cavett

Loved it! Smart witty a pleasure!
Go ahead down load it and begin the fun only problem is it's too short

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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WISH HE WROTE MORE BOOKS!

What did you love best about Talk Show?

Everything, He has a way of telling stories that makes them so interested and in some cases, hysterical

What did you like best about this story?

Dick Cavett's approach

What does Dick Cavett bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

His personality, and the sound of his voice

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

laugh

Any additional comments?

get it and enjoy.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Good stories

All in all a good listen. Most stories keep ya interested. Some are so-so
You won't be dissapointed
But not enough Groucho

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Limp Dick

I found Dick to be flaccid and angry. He dislikes fat people, conservatives and Republicans but mostly the Dick dislikes Americans. He seems upset that we aren’t French, or, at the least, European.

I have an idear…yeah, that’s right idear and I’m proud it. I know who I am. My idear is for the Dick to move to Europe and when we Americans finally snap out of it and become the effete whine lovers he wants us to be, we’ll call him and he move back and disapprove of us from another angle. But don’t come prematurely, Dick. We’ll call you when it’s safe.

The good news is Dick writes for a newspaper so his babbling will go unnoticed. Now if we could just get him to stop writing books. Well I’m being generous. This isn’t actually a book its mean spirited hissing of an old guy stuck in 1970 something. I’m an old guy too. I was there in the 1970 somethings. The entire decade dreadful. Move along. Get new stories. But he doesn’t and with the Dick’s second cheap shot at Richard Nixon within a few pages of the first one, you think “Oh come on Dick, straighten up. Dick Nixon was a dick we all know that. Get over it, or on it, or whatever you’re pleasure is with that sort of thing, but again, move along.”

He does move into more recent times by going on about the word “nuclear” and George Bush. What about Jimmy Carter’s repeated malicious attacks on the word. Remember that? “Nu-ca-Lar”. It took the world an entire year before we figured out he wasn’t talking about a newly discovered planet. But Carter and his God awful diction doesn’t get rammed by the dick. That would be politically incorrect.

Isn’t that so very sad? Dick Cavett has joined the ranks of scared, thin lipped set. In his prime Dick Cavetti was a cool breeze. He defined politically incorrect AND he was likable and independent we rooted for him because he seemed to be amused by it all. What happened to that guy and who the hell replaced him with this mean spirited little twerp? For those of you don’t know…and you won’t learn this from any of his recent writing…Dick Cavett was a very funny guy. Very funny. And a rapid fire witty as well. Where did that go? It’s not in this compilation…that’s me being polite and calling this a compilation but not discribing what it is a compilation of…..that would be mean spirtied. That doesn’t mean that everything the guy writes has to be funny and so on, but it doesn’t have to be this tripe either.

Anyway, back to dick pile, he might have fired more shots across poor Nixon’s coffin, I don’t know. I stopped reading after the second groin punch at a guy who isn’t here to defend himself. Besides, life is too short for this short of limp wristed snippiness of a pompous angry little man. On the up side, Cavett does go on to tell us about his battle with depression which he apparently won, but I don’t see how that give him the right to dishearten the rest of us with this ingratiating writing.

Here is the problem with the dick. He’s a very smart, funny, observant self-made man of incredible accomplishments and he can do better than go on with these smarmy swipes at the human race.

Have I called this work childish and tiresome? Let me check….no…so it’s childish and tiresome too but only because it comes from such an exceptional, urbane wit who really better than this.



0 of 1 people found this review helpful