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Publishers WeeklyVariety show host Ed Sullivan, part idiosyncratic non-performer and part brooding showman, played so great a role in molding the television industry, says Nachman, that his keen eye for talent not only entertained 47 million viewers each week but also produced and nurtured American cultural life. Author Nachman (Seriously Funny: The Rebel Comedians of the 1950s and 60s) chronicles the evolution of the Ed Sullivan Show from 1948 to 1971, illuminating its immense influence and locating the heart of the long-lived program in its host's capacity for pursuing acts of all kinds. Nachman's work relies on a wide range of interviews and comprehensive research, and his attention to detail makes a vivid, discerning portrayal of American history through the lens of popular culture. Though the book drags at times, fans of the show will appreciate the opportunity to relive memorable performances with insight into backstage politics and fighting, including the complex orchestration of acts from Topo Gigio and Señor Wences to Elvis Presley and the Beatles. The real star of the show is Sullivan himself, and Nachman's compelling analysis of his showbiz genius and unexpected anti-personality appeal.
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