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Publisher's Summary

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

Critic Reviews

"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)

What listeners say about Top of the Rock

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Meh.

Would you try another book from Warren Littlefield and T. R. Pearson and/or Bob Balaban?

Probably not. The writing and performance were extremely bland.

What didn’t you like about Bob Balaban’s performance?

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.

2 people found this helpful

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Nostalgic Look at NBC in the 90's

What made the experience of listening to Top of the Rock the most enjoyable?

Hearing about the exciting events of the time from my favorite writers and stars.

What other book might you compare Top of the Rock to and why?

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.

What about Bob Balaban’s performance did you like?

He did a good job of reflecting the meaning of the words behind the quotes, without trying to imitate Seinfeld, for example.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

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.

Any additional comments?

Really awesome book for anyone that loves TV.

3 people found this helpful

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Horribly difficult to follow

Would you try another book from Warren Littlefield and T. R. Pearson and/or Bob Balaban?

No.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

This is the first book that annoyed me enough to write a review.

Any additional comments?

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.

2 people found this helpful

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Loved it!

It’s really amazing to get a look into the world of what NBC used to be in the 80s in the 90s. I was a part of that audience in the 90s, and I could definitely tell that there’s a lot of difference between now and then. I really hope that we can get back to what it used to be. But unfortunately with the Internet and the way streaming is nowadays, I think it’ll be definitely a wish that I don’t think you come true. But I really hope that quality jumps up to what it used to be. Great reading!

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Inside Stories and Nineties Nostalgia

Great story, excellent performance by Balaban. It's really a series of interviews from a vast cast of the people who made the most successful TV lineup in history. It can occasionally be jarring going from one person to another, but overall the progression is easy to follow and the collection of anecdotes and opinions are entertaining. I enjoyed the narrative construction, the progression through the years and the collection of good fortune and great decisions which made the last era of network television so interesting.

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Great but confusing

Overall it was excellent and fascinating story, however it was very hard to follow sometimes because of how many people that were interviewed for the book. I had to listen to it a second time just to make sure I understood who was saying what.

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A Fun Flashback of 90s TV!

I’m the kind of person who buys DVDs for the special features; I love behind-the-scenes scoops and gossip!

It was great fun to learn how these shows came to be - a reminder of good times! If you liked Seinfeld, Frasier, Friends, Cheers, Mad About You, Will & Grace, ER etc you’ll get a kick out of it too.

It was a great trip down memory lane.

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  • DS
  • 02-15-13

must read TV

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.

1 person found this helpful

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Spectacular read if you want to be an entertainment

This book along with desperate networks changed my point of view on TV and entertainment as a whole. If you're passionate or interested in entertainment anyway these two books will change your viewpoint and make you better for it.

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Not suited for audio

Any additional comments?

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.