BREAKING NEWS by Robert MacNeil

BREAKING NEWS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

TV newsroom tell-all from the former PBS co-anchor. The third from MacNeil (The Voyage, 1995, etc.) aspires at once to intelligence and roman-Ö-clef sleaze. The brainy stuff occurs in a witty recasting of All About Eve, as good-looking, overpaid, aging but ethically responsible BBS TV news-anchor Grant Munro, after publicly comparing his colleagues to the biblical Gadarene swine that have been maddened by evil spirits, finds himself fighting for his job: he may be replaced by a good-looking, not-yet-overpaid, young, and ethically questionable Washington correspondent named Bill Donovan. The sleaze bubbles merrily as the beautiful, overpaid, connivingly manipulative news twinkie Ann Murrow (she changed her name from Malakoff so people might mistakenly think she was kin to the legendary Edward R.) copes with a loathsome blackmailer threatening to sell Penthouse a set of sexy photos she—d posed for when she was a not-so-famous Minneapolis weather girl. Trying to make sense of it all is fatuous Time journalist Christopher Seifert, who naively assumes he can suppress his jealousy of Munro’s fame and fortune while profiling him, and the Internet gossip queen Holly Golightly, an apparent newsroom insider who gleefully dishes the dirt on both. Implying that TV news veers perilously between extremes of reasoned inquiry and sensationalist trash, MacNeil shows us the scheming agents, dissembling broadcast executives, and disgusting supporting types driven crazy by the medium’s ratings lust. Beyond portraying his characters as posturing victims of situations they can—t change, MacNeil offers few new insights other than the unstated assumption that, just as with the similarly corrupted industries of professional sports, publishing, music, and film, the world of TV news might be a better place if most of the folks at the top weren’t so well paid. A zesty blend of froth and fury that, despite its unevenness, should be MacNeil’s most commercial book yet. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-385-42020-X
Page count: 406pp
Publisher: Talese/Doubleday
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1998




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