Television Talk

9780292781764: Paperback
Release Date: 15th May 2002

62 b&w photos

Dimensions: 152 x 229

Number of Pages: 416

Series Texas Film and Media Studies Series

University of Texas Press

Television Talk

A History of the TV Talk Show

Written by
Bernard M. Timberg
Other primary creator
Robert J. Erler
Foreword by
Horace Newcomb
Paperback / £34.00

Winner, A Choice Magazine Outstanding Academic Book

Flip through the channels at any hour of the day or night, and a television talk show is almost certainly on. Whether it offers late-night entertainment with David Letterman, share-your-pain empathy with Oprah Winfrey, trash talk with Jerry Springer, or intellectual give-and-take with Bill Moyers, the talk show is one of television's most popular and enduring formats, with a history as old as the medium itself.

Bernard Timberg here offers a comprehensive history of the first fifty years of television talk, replete with memorable moments from a wide range of classic talk shows, as well as many of today's most popular programs. Dividing the history into five eras, he shows how the evolution of the television talk show is connected to both broad patterns in American culture and the economic, regulatory, technological, and social history of the broadcasting industry. Robert Erler's "A Guide to Television Talk" complements the text with an extensive "who's who" listing of important people and programs in the history of television talk.

  • Introduction by Horace Newcomb
  • 1. History of Television Talk: Defining a Genre
    • Introduction
    • Unspoken Rules
    • History
    • Three Major Subgenres
    • Cycles
    • Star Hosts
    • Talk Worlds
  • 2. The First Cycle (1948-1962): Experimentation, Consolidation, and Network Control—CBS
    • Introduction to the First Cycle
    • Founders at CBS: Murrow and Godfrey
      • Close-up: "The Case of Milo Radulovich," See It Now, October 20, 1953
  • 3. The First Cycle: Experimentation, Consolidation, and Network Control—NBC and DuMont
    • Sylvester "Pat" Weaver: NBC's Executive Visionary of Television Talk (1949-1955)
    • Dave Garroway (1952-1961)
    • Arlene Francis and Home (1954-1957)
      • Close-up: Arlene Francis' Last Home Show, August 9, 1957, NBC
    • Steve Allen, Jack Paar, and Tonight! Founding Traditions of Late-Night Entertainment Talk (1954-1962)
      • Close-up: Jack Paar's Walk Off the Set of The Tonight Show, February 1960
    • Mike Wallace: The Grand Inquisitor of Television Talk (1956-1958)
    • Conclusion
  • 4. The Second Cycle (1962-1974): Network Consolidation and New Challenges
    • Introduction
    • Johnny Carson and The Tonight Show (1962-1967)
    • Mike Wallace: "The Grand Inquisitor" Returns (1962-1967)
    • Barbara Walters: The "Tender Trap" (1962-1967)
    • Challenges to Network Domination (1969-1974)
    • Phil Donahue (1967-1974)
  • 5. Competitive Ferment in the Late Second Cycle: The Late-Night Talk-Show Wars (1967-1974)
    • Introduction
    • The Challengers: Bishop, Frost, Griffin, and Cavett
      • Close-up: Norman Mailer vs. Gore Vidal on The Dick Cavett Show, ABC, December 1, 1971
    • Johnny Carson (1967-1974)
    • Conclusion
  • 6. The Third Cycle (1974-1980): Transitions
    • 1974: A Year of Change
    • Watergate as National Talk Event
    • New Voices in Syndication: Phil Donahue and Mike Douglas
    • An Independent Voice: Bill Moyers
    • The Voices of Women: Barbara Walters and Dinah Shore
    • Battling from Within: Johnny Carson and NBC (1974-1980)
      • Close-up: Johnny Carson's Tonight: "The Execution Game," A Censored Monologue Routine, January 18, 1977, NBC
    • Conclusion: The End of the Network Era
  • 7. The Fourth Cycle (1980-1990): The Post-Network Era
    • Introduction
    • David Letterman and the Reinvention of the Late-Night Talk Show
      • Close-up: Late Night with David Letterman
    • "America Held Hostage": The Genesis of ABC's Nightline with Ted Koppel
      • Close-up: News Talk, Entertainment Talk, and the Chernobyl Nuclear Reactor Disaster of 1986
    • New Hosts, New Audiences
    • Joan Rivers and the Late-Night Talk-Show Wars of 1986-1987
    • Oprah Winfrey
    • Geraldo Rivera
    • Arsenio Hall
    • New Consciousness of the Power of TV Talk
  • 8. The Fifth Cycle (1990-1995): News as Entertainment
    • Introduction
    • Leno, Letterman, and the Late-Night Talk-Show Wars (1990-1995)
    • News Talk as Entertainment and Politics: McLaughlin and King (1992-1995)
    • The O. J. Simpson Verdict as a National Talk Event (1995)
  • 9. The Fifth Cycle (1996-2000): Trash Talk, Nice Talk, and Blended Talk
    • Ricki Lake and the National "Trash Talk" Debate
    • When Words Break Down: Jerry Springer (1991-)
    • Rosie O'Donnell's "Nice Talk" (1996-)
    • New Blends
    • Bill Maher and Politically Incorrect
    • Garry Shandling and The Larry Sanders Show (1992-1998)
    • Conclusion
  • 10. Conclusion
  • Appendix
  • A Taxonomy of Television Talk by Robert J. Erler and Bernard M. Timberg
  • A Guide to Television Talk by Robert J. Erler
  • Notes
  • Sources
  • Index

Bernard M. Timberg is Associate Professor of Communication Arts at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina.

"Bernard Timberg’s work on talk shows reminds us all of how intimately we have been connected to this delightfully complicated form of television. It is difficult to imagine America in the twenty-first century without the talk show, and now it is difficult to imagine the talk show without Timberg’s rich historical perspective."

Horace Newcomb, editor of Encyclopedia of Television

A Choice Magazine Outstanding Academic Book