OUTFOXED: Marvin Davis, Barry Diller, Rupert Murdoch, Joan Rivers, and the Inside Story of America's Fourth Television Network by Alex Ben Block

OUTFOXED: Marvin Davis, Barry Diller, Rupert Murdoch, Joan Rivers, and the Inside Story of America's Fourth Television Network

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A breathless, sunny-side-up account of how Fox Broadcasting muscled its way into the network TV picture, which fails to provide any substantive perspectives on the significance of this putative accomplishment. As editor of Show Biz News, Block knows the territory. He also draws on a seemingly sure-fire cast of characters, including Aussie media mogul Rupert Murdoch, Marvin Davis (a major-league investor who once controlled Twentieth Century-Fox), Barry Diller (an archetypal Hollywood studio chieftain), talk-show hostess Joan Rivers, and lesser lights. Unfortunately, the author squanders these assets in a gossipy narrative more notable for spurious detail than material insights. To illustrate, there's a surfeit of haberdashery detail (e.g., ""Barry Diller, wearing a cream-colored suit, white shirt, and pale-yellow silk tie. . ."") but virtually no analysis of what Fox's emergence as a potentially viable competitor of ABC, CBS, and NBC might mean in the context of a TV market where networks now battle cable operators and VCRs as well as each other for audience share. Along similar lines, Block lavishes attention on the fledgling firm's running feuds with the seemingly neurotic Rivers, albeit without assessing the fiasco's commercial implications. Nor does he evaluate the Gresham's law apparently invoked by the success of so-called reality programming like America's Most Wanted and such crude sitcoms as Married with Children, which won their ratings spurs during a writers' strike that hobbled rival networks. A fanzine encomium that tells less than half the story of a consequential enterprise.

Pub Date: March 2nd, 1990
Publisher: St. Martin's