Not So Prime Time by Howard Rosenberg
Chasing the Trivial on American Television

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In this witty and candid perspective on American television, the Pulitzer Prize–winning critic Howard Rosenberg traces a disturbing pattern: TV's relentless pursuit of the mundane in its seeming quest to dumb-down America. And, he writes, it may be succeeding. How else to interpret the onslaught of look-alike, deceptively titled "reality" shows that have transformed much of prime time into a cratered moonscape? The longer mediocrity endures, Mr. Rosenberg advises, the greater the chance we will become permanently desensitized to it—and seduced by it—making third-rate the standard. He finds occasional heroes but more often rogues. Many of his essays in Not So Prime Time relate to television news, which the author charges has failed dismally in its shrilly self-proclaimed role as a Bethlehem star of enlightenment, its influence continuing to widen in circles that value tabloid over truth. He finds it hard to say, in fact, whether there is more "reality" in Survivor or in a typical newscast on CNN, the Fox News Channel, or MSNBC. News and entertainment now mingle on TV as intimately as singles snorting up together at a cocktail party, becoming interchangeable, with newscasts cross-dressing as theater, and vice versa. Not So Prime Time records how this has happened—not overnight; the crud has been creeping forward for years. Oh the horror.

About Howard Rosenberg

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Howard Rosenberg was the Los Angeles Times's TV critic for twenty-five years before his retirement in 2003. He won the Pulitzer Prize and two National Headliner awards for his commentary and reporting; his writing has also appeared in a great many magazines. Mr. Rosenberg now teaches news ethics in the Annenberg School and criticism in the film-television school at the University of Southern California. He lives in Agoura Hills, California, near Los Angeles.
Published July 14, 2004 by Ivan R. Dee. 288 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Humor & Entertainment, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Sally Jesse Raphael, crocodile-hunter Steve Irwin, and Dennis Rodman find little favor with Rosenberg, and his mercenary assault on NBC’s 1999 two-part film about Noah’s Ark ends with the ironic question: “Where is Charlton Heston when you really need him?” The political pieces praise the media-s...

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Publishers Weekly

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Fox News personality Bill O'Reilly is a""self-inflating gasbag."" A reporter sucking up ad nauseam to Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1993""at times looked poised to climb up on his subject's lap and purr."" In a piece that veers away from news, a particularly inane NBC movie about Noah is""a Bible stor...

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