Adventures in a TV Nation


Based on an American television show, of the same name, it brims with Michael Moore's special brand of subversive humour that melds outright silliness with poignant realisation.

From the oh–so–obvious Serial Killer Next Door who's ignored by his neighbours: to Mike enjoying some quality time with Dr. Kevorkian : to raising money for Charles Keating, this is a compilation of classic TV Nation that'll make you ...

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Based on an American television show, of the same name, it brims with Michael Moore's special brand of subversive humour that melds outright silliness with poignant realisation.

From the oh–so–obvious Serial Killer Next Door who's ignored by his neighbours: to Mike enjoying some quality time with Dr. Kevorkian : to raising money for Charles Keating, this is a compilation of classic TV Nation that'll make you laugh and think at the same time.

This book is a must read for anyone and everyone.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
November 1998

How "TV Nation" made it on the air in the first place might forever remain one of modernity's great mysteries. The concept was simple enough: a humorous magazine show, but one that abandons middle-of-the-road banality for the far-left lane, butting up against the curb, occasionally running straight up the divider. The correspondents would look like hell, the content would brazenly offend network sponsors, and the cast and crew would burn bridges with corporate America like a platoon in retreat. The entire affair would closely resemble a hijacking of the airwaves by disgruntled station laborers. Inexplicably, NBC loved it, as did the BBC. Thus was born the most flagrantly anticorporate creature ever to enjoy the bankroll of the corporate universe.

Creator Michael Moore's Adventures in a TV Nation chronicles the best episodes of this most radical experiment in mainstream television broadcasting. The Gay Men's Chorus serenades the home of Senator Jesse Helms from his front lawn. Janeane Garafolo and a small army of riffraff storm the public-yet-exclusive beach of Greenwich, Connecticut. A benefit concert is staged to raise funds for corporate welfare. An Emmy-nominated black actor and a convicted white felon see who can catch a cab faster in New York City. A red 18-wheeler emblazoned with the Soviet hammer and sickle freights Communist paraphenalia across the country, stopping at church socials, PTA functions, and Jerry Falwell's church en route. Michael Moore's sense of humor is rivaled only by the extent of his nerve.

A masterpiece...TV Nation goes where no TV magazine has gone before.
Wall Street Journal
'TV Nation' may be the rarest of species, a television program both funny and important.
New York Times
Mr. Moore's breezy, irreverent, blithely biased excursions are generally refreshing, frequently hilarious.
USA Today
A news magazine for Lettermaniacs, Michael Moore's TV Nation greets the apocalypse of our modern times with a deadpan shrug and a keen eye for the absurdities and hypocrisies we ignore at our peril...At last! News to amuse.
TV Guide
TV Nation is as compelling and provocative as it is entertaining and hilarious.
Three cheers for Michael Moore and his snappy satire, TV Nation.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060988098
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/21/1998
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 989,693
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 0.64 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Moore's first book, Downsize This!, was a New York Times bestseller in both hardcover and paperback. The award-winning director of the groundbreaking documentary Roger & Me, which became the largest grossing nonfiction film of all time, Moore is the creator and host of the Emmy-winning series TV Nation and The Awful Truth. Also the coauthor (with Kathleen Glynn) of Adventures In A TV Nation, he lives in New York City.

Michael Moore is the director of Roger & Me, the largest-grossing documentary film of all time. He is also the creator and host of "TV Nation," which won an Emmy Award in 1995. His other films include Canadian Bacon  (an offical selection of the 1995 Cannes International Film Festival) and Pets or Meat: The Return to Flint. He was also the editor of the Flint Voice/Michigan Voice  and one of the first 18-year olds elected to public office in this country. He has been an answer on both "Jeopardy!" and "Wheel of Fortune."


Michael Moore -- filmmaker, author, on-camera pest to those in corporate power -- has filmed two of the most successful film documentaries of all-time and wrote the top nonfiction bestseller for 2002. But his most famous act on camera may be one that he didn't film himself.

Even those who weren't watching the Oscar telecast in the spring of 2003 must have heard about it during the aftermath. Moore, collecting his best documentary Oscar for Bowling for Columbine and joined by his fellow nominees onstage, proclaimed his dedication to nonfiction in his work and took aim at the fiction he said he saw all around him.

"We like nonfiction, and we live in fictitious times," he said to a mix of boos and cheers. "We live in the time where we have fictitious election results that elect a fictitious president. We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons. Whether it's the fiction of duct tape or fiction of orange alerts we are against this war, Mr. Bush. Shame on you, Mr. Bush, shame on you. And any time you got the Pope and the Dixie Chicks against you, your time is up."

At least it was short.

Moore has been telling truth to power -- or, to his critics, his version of the truth -- long before his groundbreaking 1994 documentary Roger & Me attempted to corner the General Motors chairman Roger Smith on why his company closed its plant in Flint, Mich., in favor of 11 new plants in Mexico.

He founded the alternative newspaper The Flint Voice in the 1970s, started a weekly radio show in Flint, and became the youngest school board member in the country when he ran for office in 1972. He was fired from the liberal magazine Mother Jones, reportedly for liberal activism.

But it was Roger & Me that made him something of an icon for the left. Heavy, sloppily dressed, almost always sporting a scruffy beard and a baseball cap, Moore is an everyman with a camera crew. And he has bones to pick with so many in power: General Motors, Kmart, the National Rifle Association, the Republican Party.

New York Times columnist Frank Rich looks hopefully to Moore as the left's rallying counterpoint to the likes of Rush Limbaugh, a welcome gust of humor from the deadly earnestness of the liberal movement.

"Like Mr. Limbaugh at his least grandiose best," Rich wrote in 2003, "Mr. Moore's persona is more funny than angry, more everyman than show-biz. He is not, as he puts it, ''a didactic, wimpy kind of liberal' -- one of those whiners that makes audiences reach for the remote faster than you can say ‘Phil Donahue.' Mr. Moore may not be subtle as a filmmaker or a polemicist, but the grandstanding glee of his broad strokes is precisely what makes him succeed as a showman."

Anyone familiar with Moore's tone on camera – from Roger & Me to Bowling for Columbine to his short-lived television program TV Nation, sort of an extended, edgy Candid Camera-style prank afflicted on the rich – will recognize him in print as well.

"As someone with a penchant for demagoguery, someone who thinks that the present political structure needs ‘to be brought down and removed and replaced with a whole new system that we control,' Mr. Moore plays to the camera even when he's doing it on the page," Janet Maslin wrote in The New York Times in 2003, reviewing his book Dude, Where's My Country?

In his first book, Downsize This he jabbed at downsizing-happy corporate executives and other piñatas favored by the left. He followed that up with Stupid White Men he examined the new century after the bust of the New Economy and prayed for Jesse Helms to get kissed by a man. And, in 2003, he released Dude, Where's My Country? calling for a regime change in Washington. (One tidbit: The Internal Revenue Service actually has a specific form for tax refunds of $1 million or more. Perhaps some of you have seen it.)

With his first two books, Moore was something of a lone liberal voice on the best sellers lists. By the time his third was released, he had to muscle his way through people like Al Franken and Molly Ivins to get to his audience.

"When Stupid White Men appeared, its brand of name-calling was more of a novelty on the best-seller list. Now it is luxuriantly in flower," Maslin noted in her Times piece. "Mr. Moore will no doubt share a readership with Al Franken's Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them (which is funnier), Molly Ivins and Lou Dubose's Bushwhacked (which is better informed) and Joe Conason's Big Lies (also better informed), if not with Bill O'Reilly's Who's Looking Out for You? (politically opposite, but no less self-serving). But Mr. Moore, through real conviction along with showboating personality, does make himself the most galvanizing and accessible of the lot."

Liberals rub their hands with glee for equal time against Rush Limbaugh (who termed his own radio program "equal time.") But for some, Moore's brand of rhetoric is good news for the conservatives, not liberals.

"If this book is what passes for a political manifesto, then Tom Paine is truly dead," Alan Wolfe wrote of Stupid in The New Republic 2002. "Moore peppers his book with factoids, weird memos, open letters, bizarre lists, LOTS OF SENTENCES IN CAPITAL LETTERS, and name-dropping accounts of how he happens to know some members of the Bush family personally. It is meant to be satire, I suppose; but the only person skewered is Moore, who proves himself to be the only stupid white man around. Anyone bent on redistributing income in favor of the rich could not get a luckier break than having a critic like Michael Moore."

Good To Know

Moore is a card-carrying member of the National Rifle Association.

He is an enormous success in Germany. Publishers Weekly in 2003 reported that his book Stupid White Men sold 1.1 million copies during its first year in print in Germany, more than double than in the United States. Even the English version made the Spiegel bestseller list, the only book outside the Harry Potter series to do so.

Moore tangled with his publisher over the content of Stupid. HarperCollins had demanded changes in "offensive" material in the wake of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, but, with help from angry e-mails from librarians, the book was released unchanged.

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    1. Date of Birth:
      April 23, 1954
    2. Place of Birth:
      Davison, Michigan
    1. Education:
      Attended University of Michigan, Flint

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Who Let This Show on the Air?

It is true that the best things that happen to you happen when you least expect them. Or, in our case, when we actively try to avoid them.
In 1989, a low-budget documentary we made, Roger & Me, a film about what General Motors did to our hometown of Flint, Michigan, became a huge success. It was a complete surprise. The film was shot over a three-year period in whatever spare time we had with what little money we had. Our intent was to finish it, hop in a van, and drive around the country showing it in union halls, community centers, and church groups. We silk-screened some T-shirts and took them to sell at our first film festival so we could afford the trip back home. Instead, our film was bought by Warner Bros., and eventually shown in nearly two thousand theaters.
After Roger & Me, the head of Warner Bros. television asked to meet with us about ideas for creating a television series. We thought, "TV? Who wants to do TV?" We wanted to make movies! The meeting never took place.
Our next feature-length film was a long time coming. Michael had written Canadian Bacon in the summer of 1991, but Warner Bros. passed on it. So did every other studio. The screenplay for Canadian Bacon was a farcical takeoff on the Gulf War. It was deemed "too political" by most of the executives who read it. Michael made numerous trips to L.A. to pitch the movie in one unsuccessful meeting after another.
It was on one of those visits to Hollywood, in November of 1992, when one morning Michael found himself in his hotel room raiding the minibar and watching The Price Is Right. The phone rang witha call from a network executive at NBC.
"We just wanted to say we really liked Roger & Me and we were wondering if you had any ideas for a television show."
"Uh, sure!" Michael replied, not having a single TV idea in his head.
"Great! We'd like to set up a meeting with you and our president of entertainment, Warren Littlefield. How does this afternoon look?"
"Uh, let me check." Mike fumbled around, trying to find the remote control to turn down the volume on the television set. "Yeah, this afternoon looks open."
"Good, we'll see you at four."
Panic set in. We had no ideas for a TV show and even if we did, we didn't want to do one. We wanted to make Canadian Bacon.
On the half-hour drive to Burbank that afternoon, Michael cranked up the heavy metal and we talked on the car phone trying to think up something for the meeting. It was then, with the car radio blasting out Metallica, that we came up with the idea of TV Nation. It would be a humorous magazine show but with one distinct difference--it would have a point of view. It would stand for something, instead of pretending to play it down the middle of the road, as most other newsmagazine shows do. It would side with working people against corporations.
Who would advertise on such a show? No one, we thought! We figured that the meeting should be over in a matter of minutes. Mike seemed relieved knowing that no network, let alone NBC, would ever pick up TV Nation.
Upon arriving at NBC, Mike was told that the meeting was in the commissary. A good sign, Mike thought. Very low-key. He was greeted by his agent as well as an executive from TriStar Television, Eric Tannenbaum. Eric offered to join Mike upstairs and present TriStar as the studio for the potential TV show. After all the formalities, Eric asked, "By the way, what is your idea for a TV show?" Mike pitched the idea for TV Nation.
"I thought you were going to come up with a blue-collar Northern Exposure," Mike's agent lamented. "They are not going to like this idea."
"I like it," Tannenbaum countered. "It's funny and it's different."
Mike was concerned that Tannenbaum approved of the concept. But he reassured himself with, "What does Tannenbaum know? He doesn't run a network! He's just a nice guy with a good sense of humor from a studio. Not to worry."
The three of them went upstairs to see the NBC president. In the room with Warren Littlefield were various vice-presidents of development and programming. After polite introductions they sat down and Mike began to describe the show.
"It would be a cross between 60 Minutes and Fidel Castro on laughing gas."
The suits sat up in their chairs, interested.
"The show would be the most liberal thing ever seen on TV. In fact, it would go beyond 'liberals' because liberals are a bunch of wimps and haven't gotten us anything. This show would go boldly where no one has gone before."
All smiles in the room. "Tell us more!"
"The correspondents would look like shit. I mean, they'd look as if they were either on their way to Betty Ford or had just spent a year working at Taco Bell--or both."
"In other words," one of the junior executives chimed in, "a real show, by real people, for real people."
Excited executive smiles all around again. What was happening here? Didn't they realize that we didn't want to be on television, that these ideas would all spell suicide for the network?
Obviously not.
Mike had no choice but to go for the kill.
"Each week we'll pick one of our advertisers and go after them like a barracuda. They won't know what hit them. Then we'll go after organized religion, starting with our fellow Catholics. I've got one idea where I'll go to confession in twenty different churches and confess the same exact sin to see who gives out the harshest penances. We'll run the results and call it 'A Consumers Guide to the Confessional.'"
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Table of Contents

1 Who Let This Show on the Air? 1
2 Love Night 14
3 Invading the Beach at Greenwich, Connecticut 22
4 Payback Time 30
5 The Corp-Aid Concert 39
6 Crackers, the Corporate Crime-Fighting Chicken 46
7 The CEO Challenge 60
8 Brian Anthony Harris Is Not Wanted 69
9 Taxi 74
10 Slaves 81
11 A Day with Dr. Death 86
12 Are You Prepared for Prison? 91
13 I Want to Be an Argentinean 95
14 Junk Mail 101
15 Sabotage 111
16 Yuri, Our TV Nation Spy 117
17 Mike's Missile 125
18 Haulin' Communism 134
19 The Johns of Justice 142
20 With Neighbors Like These 149
21 Health Care Olympics 154
22 Cobb County 163
23 Making Peace with Pizza 173
24 We Hire Our Own Lobbyist 179
25 Whiny White Guys 187
26 The Censored TV Nation 191
27 When All is Said and Done 200
App. A The TV Nation Polls 205
App. B The Shows 209
App. C How to Get Stuff 223
App. D TV Nation Resources 225
Acknowledgments 239
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