NIGHTLINE by Ted Koppel

NIGHTLINE

History in the Making and the Making of Television

KIRKUS REVIEW

 A charming anecdotal account of how a group of ABC execs parlayed an international incident into a news show that redefined late-night television and made little-known anchorman as popular as Johnny Carson. ``The show brought to you by the Ayatollah Khomeini,'' as it was jokingly referred to, Nightline evolved 16 years ago from the series America Held Hostage, ABC's response to their viewers' seemingly insatiable interest in the Iranian hostage crisis. The crisis, which had been expected to be short-lived, dragged on for months, and by then America Held Hostage had broken the Tonight show's monopoly over late-night. The opportunity was ripe for a new show, but what form would it take? Ted Koppel thought that there was no reason to mess with success. He envisioned a continuation of the America Held Hostage series, with an eventual expansion into other serious news topics, and he saw himself as the host. He had been anchoring for much of the hostage crisis and had proved himself an highly intelligent and adept interviewer, one who was quick on his feet. ABC, however, began courting the likes of Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw, and Roger Mudd. We all know who won that round. Koppel and former Nightline producer Gibson provide hilarious behind-the-scenes stories of the chaos inherent in a show that chooses in the morning its topic for that night, only to change it later in the day to cover a breaking story. They also present highlights and lowlights from the show's history, all featuring, of course, Koppel: interviewing, sans translator, a Russian cosmonaut who couldn't speak English; telling Senator Edward Kennedy that he was fat; rudely grilling vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro on foreign policy. Despite the pompous subtitle, a lighthearted look at life inside the one late-night show that takes the world seriously. (TV satellite tour)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-8129-2478-9
Page count: 432pp
Publisher: Times/Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1996