PRIME TIME AND MISDEMEANORS

INVESTIGATING THE 1950S T.V. QUIZ SCANDAL--A D.A.'S ACCOUNT

Stone, the Manhattan assistant district attorney who investigated the fixing of The $64,000 Question and other TV quiz shows, takes us step by step through his complex inquiry, finding ``lying so pervasive that it was woven into the fabric of American life.'' Writing with free-lance editor-writer Yohn, Stone, who's now in private practice, begins in August 1958, when a Dotto contestant came to his office complaining that the show had been rigged. Soon after, Herbert Stempel, a CCNY graduate forced to lose to Columbia professor Charles Van Doren on Twenty-One, claimed that the show's producer, Daniel Enright, had scripted and coached his appearances and given him answers. Ironically, the fixing of TV quiz shows was not illegal at the time, though the success of these lucrative programs depended on public perception of their ``integrity.'' The fiasco would have been limited, Stone contends, if producers like Enright had told the truth. Instead, with contracts and reputations to lose, they lied and pressured contestants—mostly ``well- educated'' citizens made famous by quiz victories—to lie, first to Stone himself, and then—despite his warnings—to a grand jury. Conflicting testimony and a billowing coverup led to congressional hearings, a second grand jury, and indictments for perjury. This story of corruption also involves lawyers, whom Stone wanted to investigate for suborning perjury, and a judge who, in Stone's view, ``danced to Enright's tune.'' What was never clarified (in part because Stone never made William Paley, Robert Sarnoff, et al., testify) was ``the nature of decision-making at the highest corporate levels that led to the proliferation of fixed quizzes.'' Although quiz-show rigging became a federal crime, the TV industry, Stone says, diluted proposed legislation for greater regulation. A through and sobering document, laying out a case of deceit and fraud before the public that was the victim. (Nineteen b&w illustrations—not seen.)

Pub Date: April 26, 1992

ISBN: 0-8135-1753-2

Page Count: 350

Publisher: Rutgers Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1992

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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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

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