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Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV Hardcover – Large Print, May 7, 2013


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; Lrg edition (May 7, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1455545368
  • ISBN-13: 978-1455545360
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (149 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,949,015 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Near the end of this fight-to-the-death story of Good Morning America versus the Today Show, Stelter writes, “relatively few people knew who the warring executives were.” And that’s part of the problem with this book. Although Stelter, a media reporter at the New York Times, makes a heroic effort to identify the suits, it’s still fairly easy to mix up the players, whose machinations make up a big part of the story. More familiar, of course, are the stars of the broadcasts: Matt Lauer, Ann Curry, Robin Roberts, et al. The focus here is on the decision (dubbed Operation Bambi) to get Curry out of the chair next to Lauer, who felt no chemistry with her. At the same time, Today, which had been number one in the ratings for more than 800 weeks, was beginning to hear the footsteps of second-place GMA closing the gap. After Today dumped—excuse me, promoted—Curry and Robin Roberts fell ill with a blood disease, the battle became more pitched. Stelter injects himself into the narrative, which aims for a breezy tone (“some crazy shit is going down”). With more than 350 interviews under his belt (though no Lauer or Curry), he does have insider props. In the end, however, while this account does have its fascinating moments, they would have easily fit into a long magazine article. Give this to fans of Bill Carter’s The Late Shift (1994) and The War for Late Night (2010) about a similar battle for nighttime ratings supremacy. --Ilene Cooper --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Brian Stelter is a staff writer at the New York Times, where he writes about television and the web, both for the paper and for the paper's blog. He was recently a subject of the NYT documentary Page One. Before joining the Times in 2007, he was the founder and editor of TVNewser, the pre-eminent blog about the television news industry. He sold TVNewser to MediaBistro in 2004. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

Book could have been half the size it was - far too much redundancy.
Patricia Ebejer
Anne Curry was dismissed from the Today Show and Good Morning America beat them in the ratings for the first time.
G.G.
I bought this book for my sister after she told me she was anxious to read it.
Linda Crandol

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Ellie on April 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'd imagine that there are two distinct audiences for Brian Stelter's new book, Top of the Morning, and I'd think they'd have very different reactions.

The first audience, of which I consider myself a member, might be called the "media insider crew". Not only comprised of media professionals (I am not one), this audience consists of those who, perhaps like Mr. Stelter did years ago, rush to consume any media about the media. This audience would no doubt already be intimately familiar with the saga of Ann Curry's departure from Today, due to Joe Hagan's article, Howard Kurtz's interview, and Mr. Stelter's book adaptation in the New York Times Magazine last Sunday. This audience would have cut its teeth on the classics of the genre such as "The War for Late Night" and "The Late Shift".

The second audience might be called the "Barnes & Noble crew". This audience would consist of those who might spot the book at their local bookstore and think, "A book about morning TV! I love GMA! Let's check it out."

As I mentioned, these two audiences will, in my opinion, have very different reactions.

Let's start with the Barnes & Noble crew. If you're in this group, you'll be fascinated. The book reads like a person-to-person discussion of the goings-on in morning TV. Booking wars, job interview lunches, control room conversations. The tone is conversational, the content free-flowing and organized in somewhat of a stream-of-consciousness manner. Reading this might indeed convert some in this audience to the other group and get them as hooked on media inside information as Mr. Stelter himself is.

Now the media insider crew. Here, the reaction might be more mixed.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Walter on December 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
At the end of this well-researched book, you can't help but feel sorry for Lauer, who became the fall guy for tremendous misjudgement by Comcast/NBC's management. Why nobody stepped forward and kept Ann Curry from getting the job in the first place is a mystery. In the end, Curry's self pity and ego, along with inept management, cost them the ratings lead, millions of dollars in advertising profit and mortally wounded Lauer, who really didn't have anything to do with the decision to let her go. A high school sophomore could see that Ann was just a flat, monotone interviewer, in a format that only works with people like Joan Lunden, Robin Roberts or Savannah Guthrie, who is also damaged goods because of this.

Every day, in TV stations around the country, men and women are told their contracts are not being renewed. How many 50-plus women OR men do you see on these shows ? Book shows that Curry should have been one of them, years ago.
Author clearly favors GMA, but did his homework. Interesting read.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By horse lover on May 21, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I'm having trouble looking at Matt Lauer the same way on TV this morning after reading this book. It's a fascinating insider story of what goes on in TV - I'm glad my kids never chose that field. Nobody likes a backstabber, and it looks like there are plenty of them in the TV world. Ann Curry was always a favorite of mine, and I don't care if her method of reporting seemed lame to some - I found her genuine. A genuine Matt Lauer? - I think it's an oxymoron. In the business field for over 40 years, I've worked with enough of those folks who'd throw you under the bus for their own personal gain. If you want to read the dirt on what goes on in the background in TV, I think you'll find this interesting. I've switched to Good Morning America since Ann left - Savannah Guthrie's more than likely a lovely person, but her face looks continually pained. Maybe it is due to the field she chose....watch your back folks. Nobody cares if you're financially devastated if you lose your job - it's all about the ratings. I hope the TV execs sleep well at night.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By W. Runge on April 27, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you have at all followed the war of the morning shows, especially after the public beheading of Ann Curry on live television, you will enjoy this book immensely. You probably won't find any new bombshells because most of the juicier parts of the book were leaked well ahead of its release. But you'll be able to fit a few more pieces of the puzzle together and form a better understanding of what really went on in the days leading up to Ann's dismissal and the fall of one television's greatest programs.

Ann Curry fans looking for some kind of sympathy from the author need look elsewhere. While I don't think Brian Stelter hates Ann, he forthrightly points out her weaknesses as co-host and reveals her painful blunders. As is the case with a lot of people, I think Stelter likes Ann and respects her as a journalist but knew she was wrong for the role. That is one part of the book that surprised me. Ann, too, questioned her ability to pull it off.

But Stelter knows how to give the TODAY Show viewer what they want. He answered many of the questions I had been asking for months. He even pointed out something I thought no one else caught. During the agonizing 4 minute and 30 second self-firing, Matt Lauer said "Can we just say this isn't goodbye?" It was at that moment that Ann looked down and sarcastically said "Nah." Almost as if she were saying "Yeah right. I'm being FIRED Matt. This is most definitely goodbye."

It will also give the GMA fans what they have known all along. They all really DO like each other and fought hard to put on a fun show. It's not my taste, but you have to give them credit.
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