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Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN Paperback – December 1, 2011

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Editorial Reviews



"Those who work in the business of sport will devour the book...[readers are] granted the kind of behind-the-scenes access that sports media junkies are rarely given..." ( Richard Deitsch )

"Those Guys Have All the Fun is a de rigueur read for sports fans who wonder how a fired hockey announcer used a $9,000 credit card advance to start a broadcasting empire that changed what we think about sports and how we view them." (Denver Post Woody Paige )

"Packed with entertaining stories of unpleasant people and awful behavior....[Those Guys Have All the Fun is] offers a nuanced look at ESPN, does some top-notch TV-biz reporting on the early days of the cable industry, and offers compelling behind-the-scenes stories...[It is] a serious, impressive, piece of work." (Entertainment Weekly Rob Brunner )

"A revelation: what goes onto the TV screen turns out to be just the glossy tip of an iceberg of ugly backstage drama. Miller and Shales must be extraordinarily talented interviewers, because their subjects are surprisingly uninhibited and frank and willing to dish and slag....[They are] good at zeroing in on a debacle and getting everybody involved to weigh the end of the book you're amazed at the disconnect between the chaos behind the scenes and the relatively slick end product." (Time Lev Grossman )

"Fascinating and compulsively readable." (Wall Street Journal Tim Marchman )

"A fascinating little-engine-that-could tale of money, power and the early days of cable television." (Cleveland Plain Dealer Clint O?Connor )

"As highly anticipated by sports junkies as a Chicago Cubs championship, [Those Guys Have All the Fun] provides painstaking details on how a nutty idea concocted by a father-son team developed into a brand worth more than the NHL, MLB and NBA combined...Shales and Miller manage to create a page-turning document about the ultimate dysfunctional workplace" (Minneapolis Star Tribune Neil Justin )

"...Perhaps the most anticipated book in sports media history." (Newsday )

"Those Guys Have All the Fun delivers a hell of a narrative...[and] an outstanding work of journalism. Easing interviewees into such comfort that they said what they did on record is an enormous achievement for Miller and Shales." (Fortune Daniel Roberts )

"This treat for sports fans has a cast of characters that is huge and varied." (New York Times Janet Maslin )

"What a story: larger-than-life personalities, salacious gossip, backstabbing and corporate intrigue set against the backdrop of the rise of cable television as an economic and cultural force....The quotes flow seamlessly, and the voices are fresh and vibrant...The depth and breadth of the interviews make it not only the definitive account of ESPN's first three decades but one of the best books yet on how cable shaped American culture." (Hollywood Reporter Andy Lewis )

"A rollicking glimpse behind the guys and gals who sport around at ESPN, America's sports church. Amen." (Publishers Weekly ) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

James Andrew Miller is the author of Running in Place: Inside the Senate and coauthor of the national bestseller Live from New York: An Uncensored History of 'Saturday Night Live.' He has worked in virtually all aspects of journalism-as well as on the entertainment side of television production and development-for more than twenty years.

Tom Shales is America's foremost television critic, having won the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 1989. His books include On the Air!, Legends and, as coauthor, Live from New York. For twenty-five years, he was film critic for National Public Radio.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 832 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books; Reprint edition (December 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780316043014
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316043014
  • ASIN: 031604301X
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (204 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,900 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

105 of 123 people found the following review helpful By olingerstories on May 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
James Andrew Miller's--its obvious from the Introduction to the Acknowledgments to the writing itself that the sports-indifferent Tom Shales main contribution was lending his name to the project--THOSE GUYS HAVE ALL THE FUN is an engaging, if overly long, look at what has made ESPN the media and cultural phenomena that it is. Using an oral history format, the narrative runs from ESPN's humble beginnings to its current status of world domination. According to Miller, there were nine steps in ESPN's history that fell perfectly for the company not only to survive, but to rise to the top of its field.

1) Original founders Bill and Scott Rasmussen's decision to buy a transpounder on RCA SATCOM I in 1978.
2) Getty Oil's investment of $15 million in May of 1979.
3) Creating a dual revenue stream in March 1983.
4) Coverage of the America's Cup Challenge in 1987.
5) Getting TV rights to NFL games in 1987.
6) The $400 million, 4-year MLB deal in 1989.
7) The mid-90s generated "THIS IS SPORTSCENTER" advertizing campaign.
8) The acquisition of a full season of NFL games in 1998.
9) The documentary series SPORTSCENTURY.

The main players behind the scenes receive as much attention as the talent on screen. The Rasmussens have the idea, and negotiate an incredibly unlikely start, but are almost immediately kicked out the door by Stu Evey, the moneyman from Getty, and Chet Simmons, the legendary NBC producer. By the mid-1980s, Evey and Simmons were replaced by Bill Grimes and Steve Bornstein. By the 2000s, the respected and congenial George Bodenheimer was teamed with talented, but utterly brash Mark Shapiro. What didn't change, however, was Bristol, the little Connecticut village that is as much a character as any.
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73 of 85 people found the following review helpful By Don on June 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I just finished the book yesterday and I must say 748 pages later I was completely disappointed in the end product. I was originally inspired to read the book based on the hype by some of the pundits calling it extremely controversial, etc etc etc. In particular Dan Patrick was the biggest culprit. When he was promoting the book he made you think the majority of the book would be about the rivalries and backstabbing that went on. I should have known better when I received the book and saw how ridiculously thick it was.
To make a long story short it is more of a historical time line of the network rather than an inside peak at the personalities. I'm a huge sports fan so that was what kept me reading. Nothing really "bombshellish" was dropped except for the fact that in the early days Mike Tirico was a pervert and by today's sexual harassment standards he'd be in the unemployment line for life. That was the only revelation that really surprised me. Aside from that, the same arrogance and over inflated egos that are on display regularly on ESPN continually resonate throughout the book.
At the end of the day I let a good marketing and PR campaign bamboozle me into buying this paper weight. You can't really say it's well written because there is no writing. The "authors" (and I use that term loosely) just took quotes from various people about time line based happenings at ESPN, slapped a collage on it and called it a book. Not that I am a stickler for this sort of thing but I found a TON of grammatical errors that I would assume would have been found prior to print seeing as how the authors did nothing more than collect quotes and interject a few lines of back story on every other page.
The only reason it gets a 2 star versus a one star is because it was sports related.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By K. Palmer on July 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I actually listened to the unabridged version of this book, which took me 3 weeks for get through (28 hours long). I found the book to be interesting in general, with the most fascinating part to me being the trials and tribulations of the World Wide Leader's early days with attempting to establish itself as a relevant sports entity after years of showing Australian Rules Football, softball and rodeo. I thought that part of the book was very interesting and brought back a lot of memories for me as I actually watched a lot of that stuff in my college days. However, the book does go on way too long about several topics, the most grating being the in-fighting over ESPN's Monday Night Football book between the team of Tirico, Kornheiser and Theisemann (especially the first two, but Joe isn't immune either). I'd say 2 hours of the book is dedicated to this, with Kornheiser never having anything good to say about anything (he's just as miserable off camera as on). Also, a lot of time was spend on the loss of NHL hockey rights to what is now the Versus network and the depression felt in Bristol, CT after that happened. Basically, if a story needed a lot of time to tell, it wasn't really worth listening to in hindsight.

People who come off well in the book: All of the female ESPN personalities (especially Hannah Storm, Robin Roberts and Michelle Beadle), John Saunders, George Bodenheimer (current CEO - although Steve Jobs would disagree if you read the book) and beleive it or not, Jim Rome.

People who come off not so well: Keith Olbermann (but although everybody lambasts him, almost all throw in the word "genius" at some point), Chris Berman (a happy guy on camera, but it sounds like a terror off it), Mark Shapiro (former Boy Wonder higher up - pompous beyond belief) and Bill Simmons.

It's a decent book that probably should have been at least 25% shorter and still been good.
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