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Daniel Kimmel

Daniel KimmelThe following is information about Dan Kimmel’s new book:

Dan Kimmel presents “a behind-the-scenes look at the rise of FOX NETWORK television”.

“A fourth American television network? It wasn’t exactly a joke,” writes Daniel M. Kimmel in THE FOURTH NETWORK. “It was more like an impossible dream, almost something from the realm of science fiction, like a perpetual motion machine or spaceships that could go faster than the speed of light. Everyone knew how television worked. There were the Big Three networks, and there was everything else.” Mr. Kimmel’s THE FOURTH NETWORK: How FOX Broke the Rules and Reinvented Television will be published in June by Ivan R. Dee, Chicago.

“What we found was a tremendous vacuum essentially,” said FOX’s Vice President of Research, Andrew Fessel, “every viewer had a problem with every network. They would say things like, ‘They canceled my favorite show’ or ‘Their shows are all the same,’ or ‘They only do one show that’s a hit and then everybody copies that.’ There was a very strong theme of repetitive complaints about the three networks that indicated to us that if we had innovative programming, if we had programming that focused on particular age groups, if we had programming that pushed the edge, if we had programming that we really stood behind, then we thought we could really appeal to a very strong need and interest that the consumers were indicating to us that they had.”

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.

Mr. 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.

Daniel M. Kimmel is the Boston correspondent for Variety and has written for numerous publications, including the Boston Globe, the Christian Science Monitor, Film Comment, and the Worcester (MA) Telegram and Gazette, where he reviews films. He also writes a column on classic science fiction films for Artemis magazine. In the 1990s he covered television first for his own syndicated column and then for the Boston Herald. Born in Long Island City, New York, he studied at the University of Rochester and received a law degree from Boston University. Mr. Kimmel has taught film and media-related courses at Emerson College, Boston University, and Suffolk University. He is co-author of the play The Waldorf Conference, about the birth of the Hollywood blacklist, and of Love Stories, a book of essays about Hollywood’s most romantic movies. He lives in Brookline, Massachusetts, where he occasionally watches The Simpsons with his wife and daughter.

Text composed by Judith Kelly of Ivan R. Dee, Chicago, Illinois, USA

THE FOURTH NETWORK: How FOX Broke the Rules and Reinvented Television
Daniel M. Kimmel, 320 pages, $27.50 cloth, ISBN 1-56663-572-1, Pub date: June 4, 2004

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