Beginning with The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in the sixties, the author also examines The Richard Pryor Show, TV Nation, and Politically Incorrect. Drawing on firsthand accounts by the writers, producers, and performers of these programs, Silverman offers an unbiased view of the ways in which censorship, sponsor intimidation, regulation, and network tampering force all American broadcasters to manipulate creative talent and stifle genuine controversy. Shedding new light on the prevalence of censorship in broadcast television, this book reinvigorates the subject of free speech in American society.
- serialized fiction
- elite education
- addiction as a social construct
- food consumption and the disciplining of bodies
- post-feminism and female desire
- depictions of journalism in popular culture
- the changing face of masculinity in contemporary U.S. society
- liturgical and ritualistic structures in televisual narrative
- Orientalism and Asian representations on American TV
- Internet fan discourses
- new genre theories attuned to the landscape of twenty-first-century media convergence
Aspiring writers often ask how they can break into the television writing business. Meyers believes that the answer can be found by asking why people become television writers and what makes them successful. Inside the TV Writer’s Room reveals these insights and much more. This volume, a collection of interviews with some of today’s top episodic writers arranged in a roundtable format, explores the artists’ drive to express how they honed their creativity, and what compromises they have made to pursue their craft both before and after finding success. Each chapter’s topic is distilled into a practical lesson for both professionals and aspirants to heed if they wish to find or maintain success in writing for television.
The book includes such leading entertainment writers and producers as Neal Baer, executive producer of the NBC series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Tim King of the groundbreaking hit Heroes, Peter Lenkov of 24 and CSI: New York, and Shawn Ryan, creator of the acclaimed series The Shield. Individual writers discuss the struggle to balance artistic fulfillment with the realities of commerce, and how they inject an original voice into a show that is often not their own creation.
As may be expected from a multiauthored collection, this volume does not seek to present a homogenized account of The Shield. The show is variously applauded and critiqued. In their critical variety, however, the essays in this book are a testament to the cultural significance and creative complexity of the series. As such, they are a reminder of the renewed power of quality television drama today.
TV on Strike examines the upheaval in the entertainment industry by telling the inside story of the hundred-day writers’ strike that crippled Hollywood in late 2007 and early 2008. The television industry’s uneasy transition to the digital age was the driving force behind the most significant labor dispute of the twenty-first century.
The strike put a spotlight on how the advent of new-media distribution platforms is reshaping the traditional business models that have governed the television industry for decades. The uncertainty that sent writers out into the streets of Los Angeles and New York with picket signs laid bare the depth of the divide between the media barons who rule the entertainment industry and the writers who are integral as the creators of movies and television shows.
With both sides afraid of losing millions in future profits, a critical communication breakdown spurred a fierce battle with repercussions that continue today. The saga of the Writers Guild of America strike is told through the eyes of the key players on both sides of the negotiating table and of the foot soldiers who surprised even themselves with the strength of their resolve to fight for their rights in the face of an ambiguous future. In the years since the strike ended, the rise of digital distribution platforms has changed the business landscape in ways that few could have predicted when Hollywood guilds were feverishly trying to hammer out a contract template for a new era.
In an age when geek chic has come to define mainstream pop culture, few writers and producers inspire more admiration and response than Joss Whedon. From Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Much Ado About Nothing, from Dr. Horrible’s Sing–Along Blog to The Avengers, the works of Whedon have been the focus of increasing academic attention. This collection of articles represents some of the best work covering a wide array of topics that clarify Whedon’s importance, including considerations of narrative and visual techniques, myth construction, symbolism, gender, heroism, and the business side of television. The editors argue that Whedon’s work is of both social and aesthetic significance; that he creates "canonical television." He is a master of his artistic medium and has managed this success on broadcast networks rather than on cable.
From the focus on a single episode to the exploration of an entire season, from the discussion of a particular narrative technique to a recounting of the history of Whedon studies, this collection will both entertain and educate those exploring Whedon scholarship for the first time and those planning to teach a course on his works.
Regarded by his contemporaries as one of television’s premier comedy creators, Nat Hiken was the driving creative force behind the classic 1950s and 1960s series Sgt. Bilko and the hilarious Car 54, Where Are You?
King of the Half Hour, the first biography of Hiken, draws extensively on exclusive first-hand interviews with some of the well-known TV personalities who worked with him, such as Carol Burnett, Fred Gwynne, Alan King, Al Lewis, and Herbert Ross. The book focuses on Hiken’s immense talent and remarkable career, from his early days in radio as Fred Allen’s head writer to his multiple Emmy-winning years as writer-producer-director on television. In addition to re-establishing Hiken's place in broadcast history, biographer, David Everitt places him in the larger story of early New York broadcasting. Hiken’s career paralleled the rise and fall of television’s Golden Age. He embodied the era’s best qualities—craftsmanship, a commitment to excellence and a distinctive, uproariously funny and quirky sense of humor. At the same time, his uncompromising independence prevented him from surviving the changes in the industry that brought the Golden Age to an end in the 1960s. His experiences bring a fresh and until now unknown perspective to the medium’s most extraordinary period.
In 1929 The Goldbergs debuted on the air, introducing Gertrude Berg—and her radio alter ego, Bronx housewife Molly Goldberg—to the nation. The show would become one of the most beloved and enduring sitcoms of Golden Age radio, and early TV. At the helm was Berg who, as creator, star, writer, and producer, became a force to be reckoned with. This multi-faceted biography provides a penetrating look at how Gertrude Berg carved a special place for herself in the annals of broadcast history. Decades before Lucille Ball, Berg triumphed as a woman of commercial and creative consequence in what was essentially a male-dominated arena.
For over three decades, Berg’s "Molly" fluttered about and hung out her kitchen window dispensing motherly advice laced with engaging malapropisms, insights, and lots of "schmaltz". The show offered a warmly comedic look at the lives and dreams of working-class American Jews, and subtle insights into the nature of assimilation. While Molly, husband Jake, and Uncle David represent Old World Jewish stereotypes, children Rosalie and Sammy are as American as apple pie. Berg makes it clear that the only thing separating shtetl and middle-class new world values is style.
Drawing on Gertrude Berg’s papers at Syracuse University’s Bird Library, and rare interviews with her family and colleagues, the author reveals her as shrewd, creative, and forthright. Unlike "Molly," Berg was a cultivated woman and a Columbia graduate. A pioneer in the concept of product tie-in, she parlayed the show’s popularity into a movie, short stories, and even a cookbook. In 1951 she stood up to the blacklist by refusing to fire longtime co-star Philip Loeb who was under fire by the House un-American Committee. The book also chronicles Berg’s accomplishments in theater, film, and literature.
Since 1940, Captain America has battled his enemies in the name of American values, and as those values have changed over time, so has Captain America’s character. Because the comic book world fosters a close fan–creator dialogue, creators must consider their ever-changing readership. Comic book artists must carefully balance storyline continuity with cultural relevance. Captain America’s seventy-year existence spans from World War II through the Cold War to the American War on Terror; beginning as a soldier unopposed to offensive attacks against foreign threats, he later becomes known as a defender whose only weapon is his iconic shield. In this way, Captain America reflects America’s need to renegotiate its social contract and reinvent its national myths and cultural identity, all the while telling stories proclaiming an eternal and unchanging spirit of America.
In Captain America, Masculinity, and Violence, Stevens reveals how the comic book hero has evolved to maintain relevance to America’s fluctuating ideas of masculinity, patriotism, and violence. Stevens outlines the history of Captain America’s adventures and places the unfolding storyline in dialogue with the comic book industry as well as America’s varying political culture. Stevens shows that Captain America represents the ultimate American story: permanent enough to survive for nearly seventy years with a history fluid enough to be constantly reinterpreted to meet the needs of an ever-changing culture.
First published in 1880, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ became a best-seller. The popular novel spawned an 1899 stage adaptation, reaching audiences of over 10 million, and two highly successful film adaptations. For over a century, it has become a ubiquitous pop cultural presence, representing a deeply powerful story and monumental experience for some and a defining work of bad taste and false piety for others. The first and only collection of essays on this pivotal cultural icon, Bigger Than "Ben-Hur" addresses Lew Wallace’s beloved classic to explore its polarizing effect and to expand the contexts within which it can be studied.
In the essays gathered here, scholars approach Ben-Hur from multiple directions—religious and secular, literary, theatrical, and cinematic—to understand not just one story in varied formats but also what they term the "Ben-Hur tradition." Drawing from a wide range of disciplines, contributions include the rise of the Protestant novel in the United States; relationships between and among religion, spectacle, and consumerism; the "New Woman" in early Hollywood; and a "wish list" for future adaptations, among others. Together, these essays explore how this remarkably fluid story of faith, love, and revenge has remained relevant to audiences across the globe for over 130 years.
With an off-putting title and a decidedly retrograde premise, the CW dramedy Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a surprising choice for critical analysis. But, loyal viewers quickly came to appreciate the show’s sharp cultural critique through masterful parody, and this strategy has made it a critical darling and earned it several awards throughout its run. In ways not often seen on traditional network television, the show transcends conventional genre boundaries—the Hollywood musical, the romantic comedy, the music video—while resisting stereotypes associated with contemporary life.
The essays in this collection underscore the show’s ability to distinguish itself within the current television market. Focusing on themes of feminism, gender identity, and mental health, contributors explore the ways in which the show challenged viewer expectations, as well as the role television critics play in identifying a show’s "authenticity" or quality.
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