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Tick... Tick... Tick...: The Long Life and Turbulent Times of 60 Minutes Paperback – October 11, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

60 Minutes has been on the air nearly 40 years, and as readers near the end of this behind-the-scenes history of the stalwart newsmagazine, they might feel as if they’ve been reading about it just as long. Blum writes for Vanity Fair, the Wall Street Journal and other national publications, and (perhaps unintentionally) captures the famished, breathless tone of a celebrity-driven feature story. Using interviews and the numerous books, articles and memoirs about the show and its correspondents, Blum tells the epic tale. Don Hewitt began as a merchant marine reporter, came to CBS News and launched his dream show as part of the new Tuesday night lineup in September 1968. Although initial critical response was positive, ratings remained poor while the show struggled to establish its identity. By the mid-’70s, however, the producers’ investigative journalism had grabbed viewers’ attention, and as the audience grew, so did the cast. Blum weaves backstories about Harry Reasoner and Mike Wallace (the original front-of-camera team) with relentless administrative squabbles between Hewitt and network honchos, and the cycles of professional ambition and personal egotism are regular and monotonous. Blum attempts to give shape to the ongoing drama of outsized personalities (many come off as predictably power hungry or disingenuously careerist), but the energy dissipates long before book’s end. Photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Blum begins with the retirement party for Don Hewitt, the egotistical 60 Minutes executive producer who dreamed up the idea behind the most popular television news show and who managed to stay at the helm until recently. Despite on-air camaraderie, the show has been a rancorous place to work, plagued by Hewitt's wild ideas and insults, balanced by his desire for hard-hitting journalism. The show pioneered news-gathering techniques, including hidden cameras and "gotcha" interviews. Aggressive reporting by Mike Wallace and others provoked lawsuits by the tobacco industry and General Westmoreland. This is a compelling, behind-the-scenes look at the rise of Hewitt and 60 Minutes, including the illustrious careers of the show's correspondents: Wallace, Morley Safer, Dan Rather, Ed Bradley, Diane Sawyer, and others. Blum details the clash of egos and personalities, the individual quirks of the on-air luminaries and their producers, and the ongoing battles with management at CBS, all against the backdrop of 36 years of domestic and international news coverage. Readers interested in the workings of television news shows will thoroughly enjoy this book. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Paperbacks; Reprint edition (October 11, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060558024
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060558024
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,789,843 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David Blum works for Amazon.com as the editor of Kindle Singles, the store for original, high-quality longform fiction and nonfiction on Kindle. He began his career as a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, and has worked as a contributing editor at New York Magazine (where he coined the term "Brat Pack"), Esquire and The New York Times Magazine. He has also written for The New Republic, Vanity Fair and The New Yorker. In 2006 Blum became editor-in-chief of The Village Voice, and later served as editor-in-chief of the New York Press and 02138 Magazine.

Blum's first book, "Flash In The Pan: The Life and Death of an American Restaurant," was published by Simon & Schuster in 1992, and was named a notable nonfiction book of the year by The New York Times Book Review. His second book, "Tick...Tick...Tick...: The Long Life & Turbulent Times of 60 Minutes," was published by HarperCollins in 2004.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Robert Kelton on September 21, 2004
Format: Hardcover
As soon as I heard there was a book about "60 Minutes" available, I raced out to get it -- and ended up staying up all night reading it. I literally couldn't put it down. This is a wildly readable, well-reported and profoundly juicy account of the people who put together the best TV newsmagazine around. Blum's depiction of the show's creator and resident genius, Don Hewitt, is tough but respectful, and it's filled with great stories. I love "60 Minutes" and hope these guys live forever --even Dan Rather! I'm buying copies for my dad, my father-in-law, and everyone I know who reserves Sunday nights at 7 for the best show on TV.
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Format: Hardcover
60 Minutes is one of those television icons that all of us know something about. My daughter has a list of "The 50 Greatest TV Shows Ever!" on her bulletin board and it lists 60 Minutes in 6th place.

But how many of us have watched every broadcast? Probably no one saw them all but those who worked for the show from the beginning. Certainly, if you're under a certain age, you haven't watched them all because the show is older than you are.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that Mr. Blum had captured as many of the pivotal stories over the years as possible, both in terms of how they were developed and how they were reported. These stories also include 60 Minutes's biggest flubs and embarrassments. As a result, you can catch up on stories you missed the first time around. You also learn details that you didn't know when you first saw the stories you have seen. And you will find out about the aftermath that was often obscure at the time. The key interview lines and responses are usually in the book.

Beyond that, you find out what it's been like for all of these prima donnas to work together all these years. Predictably, they get on each other's nerves and the blow ups can be explosive. Don Hewitt, the show's executive producer and founder, turns out to be one of those high energy, aggressive people who has a million ideas a minute . . . and most of them are worthless. So he's drove people crazy for all of those years. There's a convincing portrait of how his instinct for entertainment in news added a lot of profits for CBS but often undercut reporting professionalism. You will also learn about the personal vices, quirks and flaws of the key players.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Howard Gnome on September 21, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I grew up watching "60 Minutes." I have always wondered what Mike Wallace, Ed Bradley and the others are really like. Now I know. They're a bunch of brilliant, petty, inspired, horny egomaniacs! The book is fascinating and very often hilarious. "60 Minutes" is a real American institution and now I understand how it became one. In spite of, and because of, the people who created it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By D. Miller on October 20, 2004
Format: Hardcover
John Stewart has just squeezed the life out of Tucker Carlson and his show Cross Fire. Now all of TV new's dinosaurs may soon be due for extinction.

What better time to read all about it! Tick, Tick, Tick is a must read history of 60 Minutes--the genetic originator of so many of the TV news formats that we now take for granted. Read it now before 60 Minutes the brontosaurus of bushwack journalism sinks into the media tar pits of history.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Michael K. Beusch VINE VOICE on February 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover
If you're looking for a book that maintains the illusion that the 60 Minutes team of correspondents is a happy, unified club, look somewhere else. With all of the backbiting and petty jealousies showcased in this book, it's not just amazing that 60 Minutes has thrived for 36+ years, but that it has stayed on the air at all. None of the correspondents come off unscathed. Mike Wallace, especially, comes off as petty, unsupportive, jealous, ultra competitive to the point of vicous, and, ultimately, a little sad. I was amazed to find out that many of the people mentioned in the book very willingly cooperated with author David Blum.

Don Hewitt, however, comes off the worst -- even though Blum singles him out for his cooperation with the book. Hewitt was the original creative force who developed 60 Minutes, but the book makes it seem as if the show succeeded despite him rather than because of him. Hewitt's many terrible ideas, such as offering a correspondent's spot to Candice Bergen post-Murphy Brown, are related in great detail. In addition, Hewitt was reportedly an incurable letch who made Clarence Thomas seem like a boy scout in comparison. That Hewitt cooperated so fully with Blum is stunning. So much so, in fact, that the reader has to admire Hewitt's honesty even while repulsed at his abusive and erratic behavior.

Truth be told, I would have rather had some more behind the scenes details about some of 60 Minutes' greatest stories. The interview with Clint Hill, the Westmoreland suit against CBS and the Jeffrey Wigand fiasco are recounted in the book, but the main focus seems to be the backstabbing and bad relations between Hewitt and his correspondents. The book, as it is, is a very revealing portrait of the journalists who have kept 60 Minutes so good for so long. However, a little less gossip and a little more about the inner workings of the show would have been nice. Still, it's a fascinating read.
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