PRIME TIMES, BAD TIMES by Ed. Joyce
Kirkus Star

PRIME TIMES, BAD TIMES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A riveting account of the widely publicized turmoil at CBS-TV's once-illustrious news division, from a good soldier who was outgeneraled and overtaken by events. Joyce covers much of the same ground as Peter J. Boyer in Who Killed CBS? (p. 419). He does so, however, in far greater (occasionally numbing) detail and with an insider's eye for sociopolitical nuance. All told, the author spent nearly three upwardly mobile decades in the broadcasting giant's employ. In 1983, Joyce became president of the news division--a post he lost under murky circumstances just three years later. Looking back on a generally rewarding career, Joyce (who seems to have retained every memo he ever wrote or received) recalls a wealth of prime times, including revival of the network's evening news program in the post-Cronkite era. The author also takes rueful pleasure in having introduced the prodigal tenants of ""the house that Murrow built"" to the novel concept of living within their means; on the plus side of his ledger as well is having managed to provide competitive coverage of breaking news around the world in the face of devastating budget cuts. Less gratifying for Joyce were the constant crises. It was on his watch, for example, that General William Westmoreland sued CBS for libel. (The old soldier might have been better advised to hang in, since Joyce makes clear that the network's outside counsel did not at all like its presettlement chances.) The author also shared responsibility for the disastrous decision to hire gorgeous Phyllis George as co-anchor for the morning news show. In the meantime, unwelcome takeover bids for the parent company galvanized executive-suite tenants into panicky efforts to enhance the bottom line. In the midst of these convulsions, Joyce reports, Dan Rather's agent finessed CBS into renegotiating his client's megabuck contract. Eventually, perhaps inevitably, a casualty of the corporate infighting and power struggles that turned friend into foe, Joyce retired from the fray with honor--and files. He has put both to productive use in this evenhanded, immensely readable account of life near the top of an organization staffed almost exclusively with insecure egotists and schemers.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1988
ISBN: 0385261020
Publisher: Doubleday