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Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN Paperback – December 1, 2011
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Praise for THOSE GUYS HAVE ALL THE FUN:
"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, SportsIllustrated.com
"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."―Woody Paige, Denver Post
"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."―Rob Brunner, Entertainment Weekly
"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 in...by the end of the book you're amazed at the disconnect between the chaos behind the scenes and the relatively slick end product."―Lev Grossman, Time
"Fascinating and compulsively readable."―Tim Marchman, Wall Street Journal
"A fascinating little-engine-that-could tale of money, power and the early days of cable television."―Clint O?Connor, Cleveland Plain Dealer
"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"―Neil Justin, Minneapolis Star Tribune
"...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."―Daniel Roberts, Fortune
"This treat for sports fans has a cast of characters that is huge and varied."―Janet Maslin, New York Times --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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Unfortunately, Shales and Miller's technique falls flat when it comes to the history of ESPN. The problem is that ESPN doesn't really provide its own established narrative for the reader (and Shales and Miller, I would imagine) to fall back on. While ESPN certainly has aired several memorable sporting events, to most viewers, the events themselves are of importance, not the personalities and stories behind them. While the behind the scenes gossip from some of ESPN's most well known personalities, such as Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann are interesting, and often fun, the book often feels more like rehashing of contract negotiations and business dealings than a trip through ESPN history. Once the book gets past building the foundations of the network and its early days (which are truly the best part of the book), it seems like an endless stream of narratives about not much tied together by even less. The book is begging for a narrative that the interviews presented do not really provide.
Most puzzling is that a book about a sports network provides so few anecdotes about specific moments in sports or from sports personalities. Perhaps this is because, while ESPN has covered its fair share of sports news, it seldom has carried the biggest events. Or perhaps it is because Shales and Miller intended the book to focus solely on the business and network itself without the context of the sporting events that shaped it. Unfortunately, this is a bit like writing a book about SNL without mentioning skits or guest stars.
If you're a fan of the network, you probably should pick up the book. But if you're just a casual sports fan who only watches ESPN when your team is on, you're going to find the book a slog. Shales and Miller seemed to have a hard time figuring out what they wanted to do with the book, and as a result, it's a major disappointment.
That's not to say they are able to give the same amount of detail to every story, of course. There are some stories that are covered in less detail than I would have liked (such as Dan Patrick's departure) but it would be impossible to tell every story in sufficient detail in one volume.
The best part of all, though, is the way they tell the story. Rather than compiling the data and re-telling the story in their own words they let the interviewees tell the story. You'll read a few paragraphs from Keith Olbermann about a specific time at ESPN, followed by a few paragraphs from one of his colleagues, and then a page from his boss.This brings a very intriguing personal element to the book that is constantly compelling.
Every interviewee's comments on every subject are woven together masterfully. Though the book covers a massive amount of ground it is an easy read that is difficult to put down -- both because of the impact of ESPN and because of the humanness of each storyteller herein.