The House That Roone Built: The Inside Story of ABC News
NON FICTION BOOK REVIEW
Title: The House That Roone Built: The Inside Story of ABC News;
by Marc Gunther; Little Brown; ISBN: 0-316-33151-1; Hardcover,
393 pages, Can $29.95, US $23.95
Reviewer: A. T. Connellan, "Author Marc Gunther has given us a
truly caesarean business saga, that is a genuine cliff-hanger.
This one will hold you through the last page."
A close look at the power behind TV sports
Roone Arledge, is the name most of the TV Generation will instantly
recognize as the power behind both ABC Sports, and News for
more than 20 years. Marc Gunther's carefully researched, and
skillfully told story is the history of the man, and the organization.
If the slogan; "more Americans get their news from ABC than any
other source," is true then it defines the record of accomplishment
for the career of Roone Pinkney Arledge Jr. Between the covers
the author gives us a "fly on the wall" perspective as he vividly
describes the twists and turns and underlying tension of life at ABC
The success of any company is the sum total of the achievements
of its people. What a spectacular lineup of talent Arledge first
assembled for ABC Sports. His star studded collection included
Don Meredith, Howard Cosell and Frank Gifford. He created not
only the vehicle, but the techniques of presentation that made
Monday Night Football an unbreakable habit for millions of North
His formula was developed, perfected and carried over into ABC
News, where he caressed and manipulated the fragile egos of
such notables as Barbara Walters, Canadian Peter Jennings,
Diane Sawyer, Sam Donaldson, Ted Koppel and a host of others.
He wrote the definitive textbook of machiavellian management.
In the process, the other networks were left in the dust. CBS, long
the leader, was Arledge's favorite target. Not content to beat his
opposition head-to-head, he manipulated, maneuvered,
undermined, and unmercifully raided them for talent. His list of
captures included virtually every headliner now at ABC.
His bidding wars drove salaries so high that if the other networks
were able to retain their stars, it was only at ruinous cost, a
corporate Pyrrhic victory. Even if Arledge lost, he won. The
opposing networks payroll, costs, and advertising rates went up.
The other networks have a number of happy stars who owe their
improved fortune and thanks to Roone Arledge.
Gunther unerringly traces the Arledge path up, and then down.
What happened to the giant of the broadcast industry? Did he
fall victim to corporate imposed statutory senility, or having met
all his objectives did the tireless self-promoter just run out of gas?
Marc Gunther has given us a truly caesarean business saga, that
is a genuine cliff-hanger. This one will hold you through the last page.
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