From Publishers Weekly
According to Peter Roth, FOX Entertainment Group's former president, the network's formula for success was simple: executives must "be nimble, be opportunistic and be aggressive." Kimmel, Variety
's Boston correspondent, relates how FOX developed this mantra and eventually became a serious competitor to the Big Three networks. The key to the victory was timing and shrewd analysis of market research. FOX's two pioneering tactics, counter-programming and narrowcasting (delivering messages to a select audience), put them on the map. Airing Married... With Children
against CBS's 60 Minutes
was their breakthrough maneuver. FOX may not have won the time slot, but it generated buzz and attracted Gen Xers. By aiming for a sophisticated and upscale demographic, the network was able to lure specific advertisers. This strategy was a radical departure from the established tradition, which aimed at the general population. And on the programming front, the creation of The Simpsons
, The X-Files
and Ally McBeal
cemented FOX's commitment to innovative programming. But Kimmel gives equal time to FOX's snafus. The tortured history of The Late Show with Joan Rivers
is an object lesson in how egos can destroy an endeavor. Unfortunately, this kind of lively recital is infrequent. Kimmel's primary focus is business and negotiations. Innumerable executives and programmers, many of whom he has interviewed, are rarely portrayed with any distinguishing characteristics (a notable exception is the colorful Barry Diller). This is a solid but rather dry account of the birth of a network and its impact on TV.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Initially ridiculed as the "hanger network," meaning that it had a signal so weak that viewers would need hanger antennas to watch it, the Fox network has grown to be an influential force in broadcasting. Independent journalist Kimmel explores the growth of Fox from an outrageous idea entertained by Australian-born media mogul Rupert Murdoch and entertainment executive Barry Diller, to its first major coup in luring Joan Rivers from her position as guest host of The Tonight Show
to an ill-fated show of her own, to its position as a risk taker and trendsetter in television, with groundbreaking shows such as The Simpsons
, The X Files
, and America's Most Wanted
. Kimmel offers a behind-the-scenes look at the corporate and financial machinations behind the creation of a fourth network 20 years ago, at a time when few could imagine a viable network beyond the Big Three. Fox took advantage of the segmentation of the market and filled niches that were neglected by the big networks, in the process changing standards for television programming. Vanessa BushCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved