Fourth Network: How FOX Broke the Rules and Reinvented Television

Fourth Network: How FOX Broke the Rules and Reinvented Television

by Daniel M. Kimmel
     
 

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When Garth Ancier left NBC for the start-up FOX network, NBC head Grant Tinker told Ancier he was making a terrible mistake. "I will never put a fourth column on my schedule board," Ancier recalls Tinker telling him. "There will only be three." Today, fewer than twenty years later, FOX is routinely referred to as one of the "Big Four" television networks while more

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Overview

When Garth Ancier left NBC for the start-up FOX network, NBC head Grant Tinker told Ancier he was making a terrible mistake. "I will never put a fourth column on my schedule board," Ancier recalls Tinker telling him. "There will only be three." Today, fewer than twenty years later, FOX is routinely referred to as one of the "Big Four" television networks while more recent arrivals like UPN, PAX, and the WB strive to be number five. The Australian-born media mogul Rupert Murdoch, Barry Diller, and the many executives who have worked at the FOX network over the years changed the rules of the game. They showed it was possible to build and sustain a fourth American television network through innovations in prime-time shows, sports, children's entertainment, news, and new business models that challenged the assumptions of how the industry operated. Daniel Kimmel's lively account of the FOX story carries the reader from the launch of the ill-fated Joan Rivers Show in 1986 to the challenging media environment of the twenty-first century—an environment FOX helped create. The Fourth Network is filled with behind-the-scenes wheeling and dealing, outsized personalities, improbable risk-takers, and the triumphs and disasters that led to such signature television series as The Simpsons, Beverly Hills 90210, The X Files, and America's Most Wanted. For better or worse—or perhaps a bit of both—the story of the rise of FOX is the story of contemporary American television.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review
Kimmel has done his homework.... Rich in anecdotage and specifics, it offers a rear-view perspective on the way Fox came out of nowhere.
Foreword Magazine
Kimmel's riveting study offers not only a masterful account of the evolution of the FOX network but also a grand narrative of the politcs of the television industry.
Dow Jones News Service
He is throrough, and his subject is sufficiently engaging to carry his book along nicely.
Booklist
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.
Choice
Useful in academic collections.... Highly recommended... accessible at all levels.
— C. Sterling, George Washington University
Boston's Weekly Dig
A captivating tale that's well worth the read.... Kimmel's book is a success in its own right.
— Seth Donlin
New York Times
Kimmel has done his homework.... Rich in anecdotage and specifics, it offers a rear-view perspective on the way Fox came out of nowhere.
Foreword Reviews
Kimmel's riveting study offers not only a masterful account of the evolution of the FOX network but also a grand narrative of the politcs of the television industry.
CHOICE
Useful in academic collections.... Highly recommended... accessible at all levels.
— C. Sterling, George Washington University
The New York Times
Kimmel has done his homework.... Rich in anecdotage and specifics, it offers a rear-view perspective on the way Fox came out of nowhere.
ForeWord Reviews
Kimmel's riveting study offers not only a masterful account of the evolution of the FOX network but also a grand narrative of the politcs of the television industry.
The Atlantic
An informative read.... A straightforward recap of how Murdoch did it.
Paula Lyons
Dan Kimmel nails it! He makes the inside story of the boldly, innovative Fox Network come alive. Has it really been twenty years?
Leo Bogart
Kimmel has written a deeply researched and fast moving history of Fox—a crucial player in the rapid transformation of American television, from almost total domination by three established networks to a highly varied assortment of viewer choices.
CHOICE - C. Sterling
Useful in academic collections.... Highly recommended... accessible at all levels.
Television Quarterly - Jimmie Reeves
The Fourth Network…deserves a place on the shelf of any serious observer of the American media-industrial complex.
Boston's Weekly Dig - Seth Donlin
A captivating tale that's well worth the read.... Kimmel's book is a success in its own right.
Weekly Dig
It's a captivating tale that's well worth the read.
Technology Liberation Front
Entertaining new history.
The Financial Manager
Kimmel's new book…is worthy reading for broadcasting professionals, in particular.
Worcester Magazine
He certainly knows television...something he demonstrates rather nicely.... Thorough...careful research.
The Bookwatch
Kimmel is in the perfect position to present the story of FOX.... Chapters are lively.
The Atlantic's "Editor's Choice" Review
An informative read.... A straightforward recap of how Murdoch did it.
Television Quarterly
The Fourth Network…deserves a place on the shelf of any serious observer of the American media-industrial complex.
— Jimmie Reeves
NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
Kimmel has done his homework.... Rich in anecdotage and specifics, it offers a rear-view perspective on the way Fox came out of nowhere...
THE FINANCIAL MANAGER
Kimmel's new book...is worthy reading for broadcasting professionals, in particular.
The Weekly Dig
It's A Captivating Tale That's Well Worth The Read...
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. Agent, Alison Picard. (June 4) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Kimmel, a Boston correspondent for the entertainment industry newspaper Variety, chronicles the turbulent growing pains of FOX television in this new history of FOX's struggle to become the fourth television network. Although unauthorized by the network, this narrative of the birth of FOX Television is laden with first-person accounts, and Kimmel relies on several former FOX executives and staff members for behind-the-scenes information. The book is full of quotes and anecdotes from key meetings and events at FOX since 1985 and is best read as an updated companion piece to Alex Ben Bock's 1990 history of the network, Outfoxed. From Married with Children to Malcolm in the Middle, FOX has radically changed the face of broadcast television, and Kimmel emphasizes this point throughout his book. However, it works more as a social history than a critique of FOX, and Kimmel ably details the history of a broadcaster once called "the coat-hanger network." Recommended for larger public and academic libraries with media studies collections.-Katherine E. Merrill, SUNY at Geneseo Lib. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781566635721
Publisher:
Dee, Ivan R. Publisher
Publication date:
07/25/2004
Pages:
340
Product dimensions:
6.14(w) x 9.22(h) x 1.17(d)

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What People are saying about this

BOOKLIST
Kimmel offers a behind-the-scenes look at the corporate and financial machinations behind the creation of a fourth network...
Choice
...Useful in academic collections.... Highly recommended... accessible at all levels.
Choice, George Washington University
The Atlantic's Review
...An informative read.... A straightforward recap of how Murdoch did it.
Editor's Choice
Technology Liberation Front
...Entertaining new history...
WALL STREET JOURNAL
Kimmel...is thorough, and his subject is sufficiently engaging to carry his book along nicely.
PAULA LYONS
Dan Kimmel nails it! He makes the inside story of the boldly, innovative Fox Network come alive.
FORMER CONSUMER EDITOR, GOOD MORNING AMERICA
LEO BOGART
Kimmel has written a deeply researched and fast moving history of Fox...
AUTHOR OF THE AGE OF TELEVISION, COMMERCIAL CULTURE, AND FINDING OUT

Meet the Author

Daniel M. Kimmel is the Boston correspondent for Variety and a reviewer of television and film for such publications as the Boston Globe, the Christian Science Monitor, the Boston Herald, and Film Comment. A graduate of the University of Rochester with a law degree, he has also taught film-related courses at Emerson College, Boston University, and Suffolk University. He lives in Brookline, Massachusetts, where he occasionally watches The Simpsons with his wife and daughter.

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