The House That Roone Built: The Inside Story of ABC News

NON FICTION BOOK REVIEW  

409 words 

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 
under Arledge. 

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 
American households. 

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? 
You decide.

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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