HORIZONTAL HOLD

THE MAKING AND BREAKING OF A NETWORK TELEVISION PILOT

If a camel is a horse designed by a committee, successful TV shows, on the evidence of the cautionary tale at hand, almost have to be accidents of nature. In 1990, Paisner (The Imperfect Mirror, 1989, etc.) was invited by TV impresario Bruce Paltrow (producer of St. Elsewhere and The White Shadow) to observe the filming of E.O.B., a sitcom Paltrow was producing in N.Y.C. The nascent program, starring Mary Beth Hurt and Rich Hall, focused on the antics of presidential speech-writers. Though a rough pilot was eventually taped, E.O.B. (slated for a six-episode run on the CBS prime-time summer schedule) never made it to the starting gate for reasons both within and beyond the control of its originators—e.g., Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, tardy casting, an uninspired director, script problems, a wildcat strike by technicians. Paltrow (who's married to actress Blythe Danner) and his colleagues tried again in 1991, this time on the West Coast. Despite a fresh cast (including William Daniels and singer Gladys Knight), the born-again project also sank without a trace. Thanks to Paisner, who has made the most of the unlimited access granted him by Paltrow, the abortive project (a collaborative failure if ever there was one) has achieved immortality of sorts here as a show-biz might-have-been. Without patronizing either the program's principals (a serious and dues-paying, albeit laid-back, lot) or the straitlaced networks that have the commercial equivalent of life-and-death powers, the author provides a riveting, revelatory account of the economic, creative, and pop-cultural forces shaping the entertainment fare available on home screens. One of the better inside-appreciations of the chancy, high- stakes game of broadcast TV since Merle Miller's Only You, Dick Daring (1964). (Eight pages of photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1992

ISBN: 1-55972-148-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Birch Lane Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1992

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

more