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

3.8 out of 5 stars 225 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

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

"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."―Andy Lewis, Hollywood Reporter

"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 (225 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #46,225 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller wrote one of my favorite TV books ever, Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, as Told By Its Stars, Writers and Guests. That book, a huge compilation of interviews with dozens of people tied to SNL did a great job of detailing the creation, development, constant reinvention, and gossip behind one of our most beloved (and at times, reviled) shows.

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.
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