THE LAST GREAT RIDE by Brandon Tartikoff


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 Summerweight memoir about Tartikoff's many years at the helm of NBC. Leerhsen, a senior writer at Newsweek, co-wrote Donald Trump's Trump: Surviving at the Top. Tartikoff apparently felt the need to get all this down before his new job as head of Paramount Pictures wipes it from mind. His triumphs at NBC lifted the network from the bottom of the rating pits and placed it at the top for six years running--a run not likely to be equaled. Not likely, Tartikoff thinks, because TV is about to change, with the box splintered into 150 or more channels with specialized programs for every taste. At the farewell dinner for outgoing NBC chairman Grant Tinker, Tinker told incoming Tartikoff that his own five years at the helm were ``like building sand castles. We build them elaborately and beautifully, but eventually they just get washed away.'' Tartikoff's greatest success was The Cosby Show--essentially his idea--which became his cornerstone sand castle. He shows us how he tried to provide ``maximum `viewer flow' from one time slot to the next'' and create ``perfect TV nights.'' Among the most enjoyable moments here are the endless ``pitches'' to Tartikoff of ideas for new shows--he estimates he's heard 30,000, including a two-and-a-half-hour pitch from Marlon Brando for a series based on Brando's vast library of home movies of himself swimming with bare-breasted Tahitian beauties. Tartikoff tells about his final lunch with Johnny Carson, and about how such NBC glories as Hill Street Blues, Cheers, The Golden Girls, The A-Team, Miami Vice, St. Elsewhere, and Family Ties were dreamed up, cast, and nurtured into being. Toothless--but its charm and celebrities and ideas about TV ensure a mild success before it, too, washes away.

Pub Date: Oct. 21st, 1992
ISBN: 0-394-58709-X
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1992


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