Sunday, December 19, 2010
Mike Wallace, CBS News ‘60 Minutes’
Sad, funny, undeniably authentic, Tabloid Baby tells the tale of what befell too much of mainstream television news over the past couple of decades as the bad drove out the good.
Burt was there for the birthing of tabloid, he became the heart of the genre, and now he’s written the Bible.
Paula Zahn, Fox News Channel
It was a fun read. I laughed out loud!
Jim Ryan, Good Day New York, WNYW-TV
This one is terrific! This one puts you there. It gives you the flavor of being there and it gives you the kind of off-the-wall gonzo journalism that was going on there!
J. Max Robins, The Robins Report, TV Guide
Tabloid Baby is a compelling, vodka-laced chronicle that pulls back the curtain on the helter-skelter world of tabloid TV. Celebrities’ bad behavior—illicit sex, substance abuse, betrayal and revenge— are commonplace in the weird world of Tabloid Baby… Some of the incidents in Tabloid Baby are laugh-out-loud funny… I can corroborate how accurately he captures the era… Kearns does his subjective best to show how the tabloid genre stripped away pretensions from the news. He demonstrates how a bare-knuckle style of reporting often produced exclusives, while occasionally even bringing insight to the most sensational stories of the decade.
John Strausbaugh, New York Press
He helped change forever the way the news gets told on TV. Kearns is defiantly, happily unapologetic. That’s part of what makes his memoirs such an absorbing read. Tabloid Baby is a funny, brash, packed-with-anecdotes account of his role in the trashing (my usage) of TV news. If Kearns lays on the mythologizing a bit thick–his portraits of colleagues like Steve Dunleavy come straight out of 1930s hero-worship of the two-fisted, whiskey-pounding newspaper reporter–it’s probably just because he’s looking to sell HBO the movie rights, and why not. Besides, even his heroes show their warts, and portraits of powerful media figures like Barry Diller, Diane Dimond, Anthea Disney and Jeff Greenfield are boldly unattractive. On the broad scale, Tabloid Baby is a simple and familiar tale about the Aussification of the news: that is, it’s about the enormous, and many would say enormously detrimental, impact Rupert Murdoch and his piratical Aussie crew have had on news, both in print and electronic, both here and in England, over the last decade. On a more petty level, various other famous asses get satisfying comeuppances in Tabloid Baby. He tells some great Hollywood-sleaze stories.
The Straits Times, Singapore
Pop culture history of the best sort -- dishy, gossipy, delivered with the unerring ear of a TV reporter for the good soundbite and a healthy dose of cynicism. A rough and tumble, zippily-entertaining pop history of the birth of American tabloid television. In this kiss-and-tell, after a fashion, book, he provides the lowdown on how American television reporting got from the buttoned-down, WASP mentality of anchors like Walter Cronkite to the sleaze-driven mania of the Lewinsky phenomenon in the 1990s.
Today’s Librarian magazine
Tabloid Baby is a realistic account of how the medium of television emerged from the mass of “infotainment” programming it now embraces. A master at taking the reader behind the scenes, author Burt Kearns goes one better and shows in detail who’s calling the shots and the cut-throat nature of the business. Kearns relates the down and dirty to us—all first hand. The industry philosophy of “do whatever you have to do to get ratings, no matter who you hurt” is the underlying theme throughout the book, and Kearns’ experience as the former executive producer of A Current Affair and Hard Copy makes him more than qualified to give us this accurate account. The reader is given the obvious advantage of hearing about the people, the drinking, the sex, the drugs, from someone on the inside who lived, ate, and breathed tabloid TV shows. Kearns’ book has all the makings of a best-seller. It pulses and moves, and, like the medium it speaks of, presents us with a hook, teases us, and leaves us wanting more. As a former television show producer, I know many of the people Kearns writes about. Like myself, many in the industry will be nodding their heads in agreement, and the ones who won’t are those who will know they’ve been found out and that the jig is finally up. Throw away any other book you’ve ever read about television shows, and welcome to the real world of Tabloid Baby. It’s powerful, addictive reading, and despite the 500 pages to go through, I kept wanting more. Sequel?
Neal Travis, The New York Post
The navel-gazing that's going on at the TV networks right now will be enhanced by the publication of Burt Kearns' enthralling book, Tabloid Baby in which the veteran of shows like A Current Affair and Hard Copy reveals the M.O. of the programs that changed the way the medium covers news.
Steve Dunleavy, The New York Post
Con men, criminals, celebrities, politicians - all seemed to remain part of A Current Affair’s extended family, even when we beat them up. Burt Kearns, in his new book "Tabloid Baby," takes us on a delightful and raucous romp through that world. It was a world that will never be seen again. The wildest bunch of pirates imaginable. I know because I was there. In eloquent if sometimes brutal prose, Kearns, a senior producer on the show, unmasks all the usual suspects, which would guarantee that Tom Brokaw wouldn't let himself be buried in the same cemetery as any of us. "We'd taken television to a delirious and dangerous edge," Kearns writes. In varying doses of scandal, celebrity, crime, politics and morality, the tabloid television tales riveted a nation for a decade and Kearns grabs it all in print. The title of the book, "Tabloid Baby," tells you how it all went full circle until Kearns goes respectable, marries beautiful British TV anchor Allison Holloway and has a lovely son called Sam. All wrapped up in Los Angeles suburbia. Those wedding bells are breaking up that old gang of mine. Of course, I normally would have sued the son-of-a-gun for what he wrote about me, but I can't - it's all doggone true.
Frank DiGiacomo, The New York Observer
In the opening pages of Tabloid Baby, television producer Burt Kearns’ memoir about the rise and fall of tabloid television, he writes that New York Post reporter Steve Dunleavy, "the ageless legend with his silver pompadour, eagle beak profile and rakish charisma, was the paragon of everything that made journalism romantic and dangerous. He was friend to cops and criminals, bums and kings. He knew the words to any show tune you could toss at him." And then Mr. Kearns gets to the point: "Dunleavy, it was said, would fuck anyone, do anything–fuck anything–for a story." In journalistic parlance, that is the nut graph to Mr. Kearns’ first-person account of his immersion in the sweaty, up-all-night 120-proof world of tabloid television that media mogul Rupert Murdoch brought to America when he imported a band of Australian "wild pirates," as Mr. Kearns referred to them in a phone interview, to run the American TV and media properties that he had purchased… Indeed, if the book justifies anything, it’s that Mr. Dunleavy deserves his title as the Keith Richards of tabloid journalism.
The Sunday Age, Melbourne, Australia
Young enough to be Steve Dunleavy’s son, Kearns arrived in New York City from a sleepy suburban newspaper the night John Lennon died, and elbowed his way up in television newsrooms before getting his big break—working with Dunleavy and several other Australians to set up the hugely successful tabloid show A Current Affair. It was a rollercoaster ride, and prompted Kearns to write a book about the era—a rollicking number called Tabloid Baby. It’s during the launch that he coins the Keith Richards line about his old mate, whom treats as a loveable but eccentric uncle. There’s plenty more where that came from, in the book.
The Australian, Sydney, Australia
“What’s wrong with you?” my wife asked, as I lay in bed on Saturday morning, recharging the batteries, laughing, chortling and giggling. I was just reliving a part of my past, utterly engrossed in Burt Kearns’ book, Tabloid Baby. It tells the rip-roaring, devil-may-care, booze-fueled story of the explosive rise of tabloid TV in the U.S. Kearns tells it all in a vivid, brutally honest account that is riveting, funny, yet ultimately sad. Not only do the central characters fall, one by one, victims of booze, fatigue and Hollywood politics, but so does the genre itself… In a sense, Tabloid Baby is a tabloid history of tabloid itself; a potted, bovrilized, cut-to-the chase story about a ten-year TV subset of the wider newspaper genre that grew, blossomed, and wilted within the 20th century… The tabloid era maybe well behind us now, but that’s why Tabloid Baby is such a good read—it’s pure nostalgia; a portrait of the way we were, for those who may prefer to forget…
Ed Breslin, Seek Books Update, Seekbooks.com
Tabloid Baby provides as much high-octane entertainment as any Hollywood expose, and, in the bargain, it concerns a very serious subject, and sheds a sharp light on it: the nature of journalism at the dawn of the millennium. Every big news story of the 80s and early 90s is showcased in here. What’s more, Burt Kearns proves the old journalism adage that the story behind the story is often the best story. All of these guys would have attacked the Great Wall of China with a safely pin if a great story had been on the other side. Reading about them in Tabloid Baby, you feel that Burt Kearns has done for them as marauding journalists what Robert Louis Stevenson did for pirates in Treasure Island.
Connie Martinson Talks Books (PBS & Beverly Hills Courier)
Burt writes like a young Harold Robbins, fast paced, character descriptive and true situations that do not always speak well of the teller. It is, as Burt says, an uncensored account of the revolution that gave birth to 21st century television news broadcasting. Burt’s story of office politics from A Current Affair to Hard Copy is riotous.
The best parts of the book are his candid confessions of the sleazy tactics — ranging from stealing a Joey Buttofuoco tape off a New York satellite feed to copying the infamous Rob Lowe sex tape off an Atlanta television screen— that got him into trouble. Kearns also pops off some good caps at pompous media figures, including Jeff Greenfield, who greeted a tabloid cameraman who baited him during the O.J. trial by saying, “This is the kind of lack of civility that I really think is unfortunate.” And the boozy, Vegas-stomping, strip-club-hopping, Sammy Davis Jr.–fawning life he describes, in vomit-in-the-office-trash-can detail, is emulated by mainstream media personalities today.
Tim Blair, The Australian
Kearns's book is a brutal chronicle of how exposure to the Australian tabloid ethos drove him to the brink of alcoholism.
News of the World, London
TV boss confesses… Sensationally!
The Jerusalem Post
A lively, compulsively readable account of his experiences as a producer at the American tabloid television shows A Current Affair and Hard Copy!
The Hartford Courant
Kearns relates dozens of raucous adventures in his new memoir, Tabloid Baby. It's a rollicking remembrance that romanticizes tabloid TV, as if the shows A Current Affair and Hard Copy were Hearst and Pulitzer battling over the Spanish-American War in the early days of yellow journalism. Kearns, however, suggests that the respectable press has always overstated the differences between itself and the tabs. To him, a tabloid story is simply one with a lot of emotion, real characters and a moral at the end -- a story with all the elements and drama of real life. He's started a new Web site -- tabloidbaby.com -- that promises links to the best tabloid stories of the day, and he revels in how they come from places people might not expect, like The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and the Dallas Morning News.
The Malibu Surfside News
Tabloid Baby is as entertaining a read as the television shows it describes. The book chronicles the last great communication revolution of the 20th century, providing a behind-the-scenes look at the birth of a new approach to network news.
The Palisadian-Post, Pacific Palisades, CA
We cannot print the title of Chapter 4, but Kearns’ new book Tabloid Baby features detailed accounts of scandals involving Rob Lowe, the Kennedys and everything else he covered during his decade in tabloid television. Producing for A Current Affair and later Hard Copy, Kearns did anything, sometimes resorting to illegal measures, to get the story. Kearns never claimed that such stories were vital information to American viewers… To him, the torrid tales served a much different purpose: humor.
Victor Neufeld, executive producer, ABC News 20/20
I enjoyed the book a lot. I am a closet "Current Affair" aficionado here at ABC News… although some of what I learned happened at the program from reading the book I trust would never happen here!
The Web Page, TV Guide
A hilariously scandalous account of the birth of tabloid TV!
Tabloid television isn't dead. Shows such as A Current Affair and Hard Copy that thrived on news, gossip and scandal and brought the world dramatic reenactments and hidden-camera scoops were simply made redundant. Burt Kearns was a producer on both of those shows. To hear him tell it, tabloid TV simply morphed into network news magazines, syndicated talk shows, ceaseless cable "news" coverage and those morning programs where the men all wear sweaters and the coffee is decaffeinated.
The Chattanooga Times & Free Press
Do you remember when the national news shows were serious, dull and only watched by your parents who felt some obligation to turn it on before dinner? Do you remember when all that changed? During the '90s, the lines that once divided real news, real life and real entertainment were completely erased and replaced by a TV gumbo that includes cop shows, paramedic shows, judge shows and more news magazines shows featuring real people than there are real people. Burt Kearns was there at the beginning, and he has written a book about tabloid TV and its rise to prominence and eventual merger with "real news." Tabloid Baby is the story of how shows like A Current Affair and Hard Copy, with their behind-the-story stories of real people, went from industry joke to industry leader to the industry norm…
The Trumbull (CT) Times
At times his life sounds as if he escaped from one of those old-time movies such as The Front Page, about newsmen who planned stunts, lied, stole stories and would do anything to get The Big Story first!
The Daily Grind, Radiodigest.com
One of the most popular radio show guests the last week or two has been Burt Kearns, author of the tabloid TV memoir. Has he got stories!
Barry Farber, nationally-syndicated radio host
Burt Kearns is one of the early revolutionaries who changed television forever and put it between the covers of Tabloid Baby. He didn’t only write about it, he lived it. He made that particular piece of TV history happen!
Art Bell, nationally-syndicated radio host
A great book!
Bill Diehl, ABC Radio Network
You ruffled some feathers with this book. You named names—you didn’t pull any punches!
Joey Reynolds, WOR’s nationally-syndicated radio host
An excellent book. I want everybody who listens to my show to buy this book. You’ll love it!
Nick DiGilio, WGN Radio, Chicago
Bridges have been burned like you would not believe with this book! It’s incredibly entertaining. You’ll rip right through this book. Very entertaining—and honest. Boldly honest.
John Carney, KMOX Radio, St. Louis
Opens up the world of tabloid television as you have never seen it!
Paul Harris, KTRS Radio, St. Louis
Burt has great stories in his tell-all book!
Bill Handel, KFI Radio, Los Angeles
I was riveted. The stories don’t stop. They are incredible! This fun book gives you a glimpse of how influential TV is and who the players were at a really fascinating time in media history. The behind-the-scenes accounts are absolutely hilarious. The folks involved are often funny, smarmy, and sometimes even pretty likeable.
Karen Grant, KSRK Radio, Monterey
Tabloid Baby really is a hoot!
Ross Stevenson, 3AW Radio, Melbourne, Australia
What a ripper book! I bought a separate copy for the programme director. He too declared it a beauty. A great read. Well done!
Chaunce Hayden, Eyada.com
It’s a great book! I swear to God, Tabloid Baby is the real deal. No one has the balls to write what he wrote, knowing the consequences. And he knew what would happen! I think Burt is the best tabloid journalist in America!
George Pennacchio, Hollywood Wrap Weekend, ABC-TV News
Explicit! Author and former TV tabloid producer Burt Kearns writes all about the rise of tabloid TV in a book guaranteed to cause a scandal!
Caslon Analytics, Australia
A tabloid-flavoured expose of the birth of the Fox television network. It replaces Alex Block's Outfoxed: Marvin Davis, Rupert Murdoch, Joan Rivers & the Inside Story of America's 4th Television Network!
Willamette Week, Portland, Ore.
Hilarious exposé of the news we love to hate!
Steve Powers, Ph.D., co-author, "How To Watch TV News"
An insightful, incisive, and revealing history of the last television revolution of the twentieth century. With his combination of detailed reporting, novelistic approach and raw honesty, Kearns spins a compelling, rousing adventure that takes the reader behind the scenes of the decade’s most important as well as most sensational news events. This is the first and best insider account of a movement that changed the face of television news.
Jonathan Vankin, MediaNews Extra!
Good reading for journalists. A three-fisted insider's account of the early days of tabloid TV!
John Austin, Hollywood Inside Syndicate
Tabloid Baby could even be considered ”The Front Page” of the millennium, the “Boogie Nights” of journalism. We found it to be an utterly fascinating look at tabloid (TV) journalism that we didn't even know existed. Kearns has revealed more "dirt" than we expected. Celebrities, we are sure, will not like being exposed by such an "inside source"- nor will other members of the media. From our inside knowledge of tabloid journalism after thirty five years in the newspaper & TV business, we can assure you that Kearns has given us a really realistic account of what goes on. Believe us, this book is undeniably true and authentic. You can be rest assured that you, the reader have been given the obvious advantage of reading about the people, the drinking, the sex, the drugs, from someone on the inside who lived, ate, and breathed tabloid TV.
Anita Talbert, E! Entertainment TV & syndicated gossip columnist
A fantastic compendium of the history of Tabloid TV-- from a man who lived it. Stars better be braced! Kearns is sparing no expense on anyone and no one is safe. It is 500 pages of scathing tell-all right from the horse’s mouth… all the behind-the-scenes scandals that have never seen the light of day. Right now there are lots of celebrities squirming in discomfort. Between this book and Heidi Fleiss’s memoirs, no one in this town is safe!
Dr. Franklin Ruehl, Ph.D., cable TV show host
Tabloid Baby earns my highest commendation. It reveals the innermost secrets of the world of tabloid television like no other book!
Carol Vitale, The Carole Vitale Show
We are in love with this book, Tabloid Baby. Never a dull moment!
John Cluckie, Under the Covers with John Cluckie
This book is fabulous! It’s full of celebrity sleaze and scandal and gossip. A must read!
Linn Taylor, Screentime Access, Sydney, Australia
A rip-snorting, page-turning, knee-slapping trip down television's memory lane--the good and the bad--written by a talented wordsmith who lived through the era--helped shape it--and came out alive! If you've ever wondered how television is made--look no further for a reference book!
Brett Hudson, star of CBS’s Hudson Brothers Show
This is one of the best books I have ever read! Burt Kearns is the author of the millennium. Having been in show business my whole life, I can honestly tell you that Mr. Kearns has written the "behind the scenes" truth of the television industry. Tabloid Baby is a winner. I can't wait to see the movie!
Luke Ford, lukeford.net
An absorbing book!
Jan Thomas, Good Evening Norway TV
Entertaining and funny! Very funny! Read this and find out what’s going on behind the scenes!
Eames Yates, Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker
Tabloid Baby tells a truth that I have demanded from myself and others. It is a brave and daring look at those who have given their lives, their families, their fortune and their health to bring to the American people the stories that tell them who they are, what they are, and why they are.
Joe Hamill, Court TV
This book is nothing less than an underappreciated masterpiece. Cast as a memoir, it is also, perhaps, the most densely-packed and exhaustive inside history of the phenomena of Tabloid TV during its reign.
Michael Raffaele, author, "The Editor: Steps to Saving A Dying Newspaper"
Tabloid Baby was TREMENDOUS. It is a breath of fresh air and should be taught in J-Schools (and bars) across the country.
Rafael Abramovitz, legendary Tabloid TV correspondent
Burt Kearns is a very lucky man. Because best friends don’t sue!