A consummate, highly revealing, expertly assembled study of how HBO indelibly changed TV.



A retrospective of HBO’s nearly half-century of multiplex programming portrayed through the words of a cavalcade of celebrities, developers, and innovators.

Using material from more than 750 interviews with a host of insiders, noted journalist Miller presents an exhaustive account of the network’s pioneering projects. In a well-rendered, frequently surprising chronicle, the author covers seemingly every inch of ground: HBO’s “treacherous birth” in 1972, early ups and downs, the use of satellite technology, and the development of groundbreaking movies, award-winning documentaries, uncensored comedy, and unique sports programming, which elevated televised boxing matches to new heights. Miller spotlights many of HBO’s success stories through first-person commentary and ventures deep into how these history-making shows were developed, produced, and became hits. The histories of classics like The Larry Sanders Show; the “stunning trifecta” of Sex and the City, The Sopranos, and Curb Your Enthusiasm; Game of Thrones; and even the decadeslong run of the voyeuristic Taxicab Confessions are fascinating to read, all recounted via the memories of those who were there. Many of Miller’s interviewees viscerally describe the stress, struggle, joys, and pains of being on a consistently successful hit show where “cast, crew, and network executives get tossed together in a pressure cooker for years on end, and it’s rare that some don’t suffer accordingly.” This was especially true for the Sopranos team and its star, James Gandolfini, who struggled with addiction and, once he became an irreplaceable commodity to the network, leveraged his power to his ultimate advantage. Though the text is more than 1,000 pages, its length is justified by the sheer amount of insightful commentary, juicy insider opinions, and celebrity and executive melodrama. Collectively, the chorus of voices creates an informative and compelling indulgence about how a particular culture of entertainment is formed and fostered. In that sense, the book recalls Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN, which Miller co-authored with Tom Shales.

A consummate, highly revealing, expertly assembled study of how HBO indelibly changed TV.

Pub Date: Nov. 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-62401-7

Page Count: 1024

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.


A former New York City dancer reflects on her zesty heyday in the 1970s.

Discovered on a Manhattan street in 2020 and introduced on Stanton’s Humans of New York Instagram page, Johnson, then 76, shares her dynamic history as a “fiercely independent” Black burlesque dancer who used the stage name Tanqueray and became a celebrated fixture in midtown adult theaters. “I was the only black girl making white girl money,” she boasts, telling a vibrant story about sex and struggle in a bygone era. Frank and unapologetic, Johnson vividly captures aspects of her former life as a stage seductress shimmying to blues tracks during 18-minute sets or sewing lingerie for plus-sized dancers. Though her work was far from the Broadway shows she dreamed about, it eventually became all about the nightly hustle to simply survive. Her anecdotes are humorous, heartfelt, and supremely captivating, recounted with the passion of a true survivor and the acerbic wit of a weathered, street-wise New Yorker. She shares stories of growing up in an abusive household in Albany in the 1940s, a teenage pregnancy, and prison time for robbery as nonchalantly as she recalls selling rhinestone G-strings to prostitutes to make them sparkle in the headlights of passing cars. Complemented by an array of revealing personal photographs, the narrative alternates between heartfelt nostalgia about the seedier side of Manhattan’s go-go scene and funny quips about her unconventional stage performances. Encounters with a variety of hardworking dancers, drag queens, and pimps, plus an account of the complexities of a first love with a drug-addled hustler, fill out the memoir with personality and candor. With a narrative assist from Stanton, the result is a consistently titillating and often moving story of human struggle as well as an insider glimpse into the days when Times Square was considered the Big Apple’s gloriously unpolished underbelly. The book also includes Yee’s lush watercolor illustrations.

A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-27827-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2022

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The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

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The former iCarly star reflects on her difficult childhood.

In her debut memoir, titled after her 2020 one-woman show, singer and actor McCurdy (b. 1992) reveals the raw details of what she describes as years of emotional abuse at the hands of her demanding, emotionally unstable stage mom, Debra. Born in Los Angeles, the author, along with three older brothers, grew up in a home controlled by her mother. When McCurdy was 3, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Though she initially survived, the disease’s recurrence would ultimately take her life when the author was 21. McCurdy candidly reconstructs those in-between years, showing how “my mom emotionally, mentally, and physically abused me in ways that will forever impact me.” Insistent on molding her only daughter into “Mommy’s little actress,” Debra shuffled her to auditions beginning at age 6. As she matured and starting booking acting gigs, McCurdy remained “desperate to impress Mom,” while Debra became increasingly obsessive about her daughter’s physical appearance. She tinted her daughter’s eyelashes, whitened her teeth, enforced a tightly monitored regimen of “calorie restriction,” and performed regular genital exams on her as a teenager. Eventually, the author grew understandably resentful and tried to distance herself from her mother. As a young celebrity, however, McCurdy became vulnerable to eating disorders, alcohol addiction, self-loathing, and unstable relationships. Throughout the book, she honestly portrays Debra’s cruel perfectionist personality and abusive behavior patterns, showing a woman who could get enraged by everything from crooked eyeliner to spilled milk. At the same time, McCurdy exhibits compassion for her deeply flawed mother. Late in the book, she shares a crushing secret her father revealed to her as an adult. While McCurdy didn’t emerge from her childhood unscathed, she’s managed to spin her harrowing experience into a sold-out stage act and achieve a form of catharsis that puts her mind, body, and acting career at peace.

The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-982185-82-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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