Flanagan's snarkily entertaining second novel (after A&R) is a smorgasbord of colorful personalities and riotous events that would only be slightly less at-home on a reality TV show. Bobby Kahn—a hotshot young TV exec whose first big hit was the game show I'll Eat Anything!—is fired after a scandal flares up when it's discovered that the producers rigged his latest reality show. Desperate to find another job before news of his firing spreads, Bobby accepts an offer to run King Cable, a family-owned and operated enterprise located in New Bedlam, R.I. Leaving the big city and having to downsize his ambition are bad enough, but managing and trying to subvert the egotistical whims of the King family heirs who run the network's three channels (one channel is dedicated to comic books) proves the greatest challenge. Though MTV senior vice president Flanagan is wryly philosophical about popular television's influence and base delights, he still manages to savagely skewer the medium. Granted, Flanagan's humor sometimes degenerates into mean-spiritedness (one character dies after his urine is accidentally administered intravenously), but his take on television's pathological weirdness is fun, fast-paced and unexpectedly endearing. (Aug.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Flanagan has authored a book on the band U2, a collection of conversations with musicians, and one novel, A & R. However, his current position of senior vice president of MTV International is the ultimate qualification for writing his newest novel. Flanagan creates his own brand of clever prose by blending his industry knowledge with pop-culture references and even metaphors. The result is the story of Bobby Kahn, a hotshot New York television executive fired from his job and forced to run a struggling cable company in a small New England town. In addition to distributing basic cable to a part of New England, King Cable has three of its own channels, each run by one of the owners, who also happen to be quarreling siblings. Kahn is charged with the impossible job of reviving these channels and their shows, which would be more at home on public access. In little time, the company is flourishing, thanks to Kahn's creative exploitation of what few resources the company actually has, such as Bonanzareruns and employees with encyclopedic knowledge of comic books. A well-written, entertaining, and genuinely sincere comedy; recommended for all public libraries.
After a deliciously sly novel about the dark side of the music business (A&R, 2000) comes a deliciously sly novel about the underbelly of the TV industry-from someone who's worked both vineyards. There's no real meanness in Bobby Kahn, no big-time cruelty-we're talking Bobby, not Genghis-but, face it, he is something of a scapegrace, whose moral compass keeps pointing in uncertain directions. Actually, the most noteworthy thing about Bobby, the thing that ultimately defines him, is his enduring love affair with television. In particular, he's drawn to its programming and production aspects, and his philosophy goes something like this: Get the programming part right and the ratings must follow, as well as the advertising dollars. Get the programming wrong and there's a consequent short fall in meat and potatoes. Not too long ago, Bobby was one of his network's boy wonders, and then the TV hotshot got caught fudging reality on his reality show. The ensuing scandal sent the network's senior suits running for cover. "The posse's getting close. We need to throw them a body," was the panicky outcry. The body, of course, turned out to be Bobby's, and after ten prime-time years, he was cancelled. Enter those seemingly simple folk from New Bedlam, R.I., with their pint-sized cable operation. Small, yes, but Skyler King had plans for King Cable, and they included Bobby. Just how is the essence of this lively, occasionally acid, picaresque novel, in which all the biters get bit, and entertainment and metaphor have a way of bumping along together. While Bobby Kahn isn't precisely Tom Jones, there's a correlation Fielding would have recognized and enjoyed. As will others.