Not So Prime Time: Chasing the Trivial on American Television

Howard Rosenberg (Author)


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.

Product Details

Ivan R. Dee Publisher
Publish Date
July 14, 2004
6.4 X 1.05 X 9.26 inches | 1.23 pounds

Earn by promoting books

Earn money by sharing your favorite books through our Affiliate program.

Become an affiliate

About the Author

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.


No mere television critic, Howard Rosenberg is the conscience that the medium seems so sadly to have misplaced.--Larry Gelbart
...This collection [is] a welcome antidote for the medium's [TV's] excesses.--Daniel M. Kimmel, Author of The Fourth Network
Anything Howard Rosenberg writes about television is superior to almost anything that's on television.--Linda Ellerbee, Journalist, Television Producer
This collection of a decade's worth of observation is crisp, smart, furious, and funny.--Tyne Daly
Read this and you'll see why the Pulitzer jurors said Howard is the best.--Bill Moyers
Rosenberg's collection of essays traces the key stepping-stones on the descent from news to infotainment...--Brian Lowry "Variety "
He wants nothing less than for all of us to become TV critics.--Virginian-Pilot
...Rosenberg plumbs the depths of the sewer with grim levity, wryly chronicling the highlights of the mediocre.... He really shines...--Booklist
...Rosenberg...explores...the still too infrequent peaks of TVland in nimble and often provocative style.--Toronto Globe and Mail
Eloquent and witty, Rosenberg provides refreshingly sensible commentary on an increasingly maddening media circus.--San Francisco Bay Guardian
...We need his voice and one wishes there were many more like his.--Rainelle, Wv Post-Report
Marvelously written...more than a simple critique.... Rosenberg gives readers a reason to care about what will happen during the second half-century of television.--Foreword Reviews
The prose is often witty and the satiric hits are sharp...--CHOICE
Rosenberg is the real thing. Newton Minow may have been the first to call TV a "vast wasteland," but no one has mapped its terrain more thoroughly and starkly than Rosenberg.--Kirkus
...Rosenberg loves television.... It's this love Not So Prime Time its pleasant and tangy bite.--The Washington Times