In November 2012, the United States elected a president. Also right around the same time, author Stephen Battaglio released his latest book, an e-book to be exact, Election Night: A Television History 1948-2012. As described by the publisher, the book “is a fascinating and revealing look at the evolution of U.S. presidential election night broadcasts and how since 1948, this televised event galvanizes the nation. It explores the technical advancements in vote counting, live coverage from the field, how the networks get polling information and call a state for a candidate and how the drama unfolds in the control room. Through the lens of NBC News, Election Night highlights significant commentary by legendary news figures such as Chet Huntley, David Brinkley, John Chancellor, Tom Brokaw, Tim Russert, and Brian Williams.”
The book makes the most of the Kindle platform, utilizing the NBC large video archives, as well as offering historical audio clips in an enhanced edition [available here [or iTunes link here]. To find out more about his latest project, Battaglio accepted my invitation for another interview (I first interviewed him in 2011 regarding his book on NBC Today Show’s 60-year history.)
Tim O’Shea: You pull data for the book, including congressional hearings as well as the David Brinkley Papers/Archives. What was the biggest surprise/most interesting aspect of delving into Brinkley’s papers?
Stephen Battaglio: I loved David Brinkley. He is my favorite TV news anchor of all time. The humor that he managed to inject in his on-air commentary came across in his papers, especially in personal letters and internal memos. What you saw on screen was his true self.
I always love seeing sneak previews of the new fall shows. Now thanks to official network YouTube channels, I can share some of the previews, plus their official description. First up: NBC’sThe New Normal.
“Get an in-depth look at The New Normal, a new series from Ryan Murphy, coming this fall to NBC.
Tuesdays 9:30/8:30c This Fall on NBC.
The New Normal: http://NBC.com/The-New-Normal/
Like The New Normal: https://Facebook.com/NBCTheNewNormal
Follow The New Normal: https://Twitter.com/NBCTheNewNormal
The New Normal Tumblr: http://nbcTheNewNormal.Tumblr.com/
The New Normal Pinterest: http://Pinterest.com/TheNewNormal/”
In 2012, the U.S. national TV broadcast network NBC will celebrate that Today, its morning news and talk show, first went on the air 60 years ago in January of 1952. Indeed, NBC’s celebration started a little early in mid-November, with the release of From Yesterday to Today: Six Decades of America’s Favorite Morning Show, a book written by Stephen Battaglio (TV Guide‘s business editor) and published by Running Press. Battaglio, who was granted access to the TODAY show’s archives in order to fully document the rich history of the show, was kind enough to take part in a recent email interview about his 272-page book. The book features a variety of information and photos covering the show’s 60-year history as well as an introduction by current Today show host Matt Lauer.
Did NBC give you full access to its show archives?
Yes. We were able to use their photos. I was able to review past episodes of Today – a lot of fun – and interviews with the personalities that NBC News producers had done over the years. I combined that with my own research and reporting on the show done over my career as a journalist covering the TV industry. I also did a few dozen fresh interviews with the current and past Today producers and cast members.
I watch the ABC sitcom Happy Endings while writing typically (sitcoms do not command the full O’Shea attention), but I cannot fathom how I missed this–from a few weeks back. A singing duet featuring Casey Wilson as Penny and Megan Mullally as Penny’s mother. I do remember thinking, man I hope Mullally appears again (much as she does periodically on NBC’s Parks and Recreation as one of Ron Swanson’s ex-wives). Watching it a second time, I realized that I ignored the scene because I hate this song. Glad I watched it again, despite the song.
A hat tip for Yahoo’s The Set, for making me aware of this bit, that at first I could not remember watching. Now if I could only find the scene where Penny fell forward with a podium (on Happy Endings season finale), while saying: “I’m going down!”
Paul Giamatti won a Golden Globe tonight–and admitted he was jacked up on a few boxes of Godiva Chocolate. But you have to love his reaction to presenter Halle Berry. Plus, call me crazy, but I love meandering acceptance speeches such as this one.
As part of my day job, I periodically have to create flowcharts. None of my flowcharts, however, are as amusing or engaging as the ones that appear in Doogie Horner‘s brand new book, Everything Explained Through Flowcharts, which goes on saletoday (October 26) from Harper Paperbacks. Here’s a snippet of what the book offers: “What if all of life’s greatest mysteries could be explained through ingeniously designed flowcharts? The afterlife, the quickest way to gain a supernatural power, even the ultimate guide for things to say during sex, all broken down into charts even your sixth grade English teacher (the one who made you do all those brainstorming diagrams) would be impressed by. Fortunately for humanity, comedian and graphic designer Doogie Horner has done just that” with this new book. You may recognize Horner from his recent appearance on NBC’s America’s Got Talent where he was the only comedian in the show’s final 48 contestants. My apologies to Horner for a typo in one of the questions (I meant to type “designing book covers” and inexplicably typed “designing comic books”), but fortunately enough Horner answered my “mistake” question (delightfully I might add) and my “proper” question (equally as delightfully). To get an idea of the flowcharts, here a few excerpted pages on superpowers and fears.
Tim O’Shea: You concede at one point in the book that this book required a great deal of research. Which of the features required the most research or was the most absurd to research?
Doogie Horner: Yeah, I tried to ground all the charts in solid research. So even charts like Alien Sex, where I’m obviously talking about 100% make believe, I researched depictions of aliens in television, film, and of course the numerous nutball testimonials.
Designer Paint Names required a ton of research, and I probably got a little carried away with that one. After I handed in the sixth page of paint name charts, my editor said, “If you hand in one more page of paint names, I will murder you.” WWF Finishing Moves was challenging as well, because even after I figured out what moves to include, I then had to find video or photos of each wrestler executing the move so I could diagram them accurately. However the Heroes and Villains chart definitely required the most research, because I had to find out how many people each hero and villain had killed in each of their films, and that covered 48 characters in 187 films. The numbers still aren’t 100% accurate for that chart, because I found different sources citing different numbers, and there were some kills that were ambiguous (for instance when Chuck Norris just mows down a whole crowd of bad guys with a machine gun), but I tried to be as accurate as possible. I had to use an equation to figure out Godzilla‘s kill count.
Former NBC newsman Edwin Newman died this week at the age of 91. NBC Nightly News’ Brian Williams did a nice nearly three-minute tribute to Newman (who retired from NBC [much to my surprise] in the mid-1980s).
It was nice to see them devote a good chunk of time to Newman’s comedic sense. My fondest memory was of Newman’s gig doing the news segments on David Letterman’s first daytime talk show for NBC. Clearly his career involved far more important phases than that, but for me, Letterman’s show was when I first really noticed Newman.
Hulu has links to a few more Newman clips, including Tom Brokaw and John Chancellor’s tribute to Newman upon his retirement in 1984.