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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (947 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Warren Littlefield, T. R. Pearson Narrator: Bob Balaban Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2012 ISBN: 9780449009420
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Seinfeld, Friends, Frasier, ER, Cheers, Law & Order, Will & Grace… Here is the funny, splashy, irresistible insiders’ account of the greatest era in television history - told by the actors, writers, directors, producers, and the network executives who made it happen… and watched it all fall apart.

Warren Littlefield was the NBC President of Entertainment who oversaw the Peacock Network’s rise from also-ran to a division that generated a billion dollars in profits. In this fast-paced and exceptionally entertaining oral history, Littlefield and NBC luminaries including Jerry Seinfeld, Jason Alexander, Kelsey Grammer, Matt LeBlanc, Lisa Kudrow, Julianna Marguiles, Anthony Edwards, Noah Wylie, Debra Messing, Jack Welch, Jimmy Burrows, Helen Hunt, and Dick Wolf vividly recapture the incredible era of Must See TV.

From 1993 through 1998, NBC exploded every conventional notion of what a broadcast network could accomplish with the greatest prime-time line-up in television history. On Thursday nights, a cavalcade of groundbreaking comedies and dramas streamed into homes, attracting a staggering 75 million viewers and generating more revenue than all other six nights of programming combined. The road to success, however, was a rocky one. How do you turn a show likeSeinfeld, one of the lowest testing pilots of all time, into a hit when the network overlords are constantly warring, or worse, drowning in a bottle of vodka?

Top of the Rock is an addictively readable account of the risky business decisions, creative passion, and leaps of faith that made Must See TV possible. Chock full of delicious behind-the-scenes anecdotes that run the gamut from hilarious casting and programming ploys to petty jealousies and drug interventions, you’re in for a juicy, unputdownable read.

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Quotes & Awards

  • "To detail the exuberant 1990s’ events in the Peacock Network’s ascendancy (with such shows as Frasier, Friends, Seinfeld, Will & Grace, and ER) Littlefield and novelist Pearson interviewed more than 50 actors, writers, producers, agents and executives...Littlefield unleashed a ‘financial geyser’ at NBC, and these revelatory glimpses of those glory days make this one of the more entertaining books published about the television industry. Publishers Weekly

  • Littlefield's compulsively readable saga, Top of the Rock, is a great tale of folly. Dick Donahue for PW
  • "A fascinating oral history of shows like Seinfeld that defined an era. New York Daily News
  • A chronicle of the last golden age of network television, [Top of the Rock] is the literary equivalent of a former NBC Thursday night lineup…Littlefield is the ultimate Must See insider. The mini-histories are a blast…full of fresh detail. The Hollywood Reporter
  • "The former president of entertainment at NBC chronicles his tenure with the peacock with a little help from his friends, including Jerry Seinfeld, Kelsey Grammar, Sean Hayes, and a few assorted suits who helped him schedule and nuture some of the most memorable shows on the tube, including Cheers, Friends, and Seinfeld. And as entertained as audiences were by those programs, the real show was happening behind the scenes, where larger-than-life egos clashed over details large and small. Readers interested in the history of the network or simply wanting to hear the dish, as well as others interested in breaking into the TV biz, will find much to enjoy in this charming reliving of Littlefield's glory days. Booklist
  • "With entertaning insider's perspective, Littlefield transports readers back to a seemingly magical time when half the country would watch the same show. Kirkus

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lisa Johnson | 2/18/2014

    " This book was enjoyable for me because I was a huge fan of Must See TV in the 1990's. This book gives you an inside glimpse of how shows like "Seinfeld", "Friends", and "ER" became famous. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ashley | 2/16/2014

    " This isn't really the full story of Must See TV -- more like what occurred during TV exec Warren Littlefield's time there from the 1970s until he was fired in 1998 -- but it's a fascinating insider's look into the creative processes, executive decisions, and behind the scenes drama of what was once the highest rated network on TV. Full review later. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Paul Matwychuk | 2/15/2014

    " Too much of a celebration of NBC's and Littlefield's achievements, not enough nitty-gritty creative details and not enough juicy anecdotes. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Djm Meltzer | 2/13/2014

    " Mildly entertaining - if you are a fan of TV there is some good insight into the programming process and the hits of the 90s but not exactly a riveting book. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Alicia Brooks | 2/8/2014

    " Quick read with some good stories about some of the biggest shows in tv history. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Patricia Amador salinero | 1/28/2014

    " The historic account of this era is very interesting, however, and in as much as I take Mr. Littlefield's words as true, I got a little tired at the end of the self congratulatory aspect of the book. I would've loved to have heard what didn't get picked up and why, and I would have loved a couple of pages on his opinion of where television is heading now, in all its different platforms, and nobody sitting to watch tv on its schedule, but rather on demand. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ryan | 1/21/2014

    " Awesome, awesome, awesome read. Tons of interesting tidbits about that great era of NBC tv from the end of Cheers through Seinfeld and Friends and Will & Grace and ER. Just amazing stuff and you get a sense of what TV used to be and perhaps why it's declined. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Joy | 1/18/2014

    " This was a great book for people who love TV like me. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Stephanie | 1/18/2014

    " 3.5 stars. It was a quick, enjoyable, interesting read, but it felt . . . lacking. I wanted more, especially about how it all fell apart for NBC. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ben Hamilton | 1/11/2014

    " I enjoyed this book but I have to admit the style of the writing (collection of comments from main players) was a bit annoying "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jason Roland | 12/17/2013

    " Tons of fun. If you liked Must See TV on NBC in the 90s/00s, you'll really enjoy this book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ang | 11/29/2013

    " If you were a fan of any of the "Must See TV" shows from the 90's, this book should be on your list. It's full of really interesting tidbits about Seinfeld and Friends and ER and so on. A fast read, too. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rahul | 11/19/2013

    " I found it fascinating, but that's because I watched a lot of TV in the 90s. It made me want to re-watch all those older sitcoms that I was a little too young to understand at the time e.g. Seinfeld, Mad About You, Cheers, Frasier. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Beth | 9/21/2013

    " If you were a big fan of NBC's Must see TV, then this is pretty interesting. However, I found the way it was written made it hard to read. The narrative jumps from person to person, and the timeline jumps around a bit also. Still fun to read about Cheers, Mad About You, Frasier, Friends, ER, etc "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Meredith Spidel | 7/28/2013

    " Learned a TON about NBC shows from this book, which was cool. I'm just not a huge fan of the interview transcript style--didn't have an easy flow. Glad to be more educated on Must-See-TV though ;) "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jeremy | 9/3/2012

    " Forgot how much that era of television was a part of my life. Good book. Fun stories. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Susanne Baskin | 9/3/2012

    " I loved Must See TV, so this was pretty interesting to me. The book walks you through the origin of all of those actors & shows. Written by the president of NBC during those years. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Niko05 | 7/12/2012

    " It was JUST ok.. a fun trip down memory lane for NBC viewers but a tad self-indulgent. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Fran Finelt | 7/2/2012

    " Very enjoyable history of must see TV. Loved the nastalgia ! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kaitlyn Wb | 5/17/2012

    " Super entertaining and gossip-y look at NBC during the 80's and 90's. I really enjoyed the insider view of how the sausage got made, and also HOW MUCH they all hate the current president of NBC. "

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About the Author
Warren Littlefield is the former NBC President of Entertainment. Previous to that, he was the NBC comedy executive who developed such hit shows as The Cosby Show, Golden Girls, and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.  He currently runs his own television production company.
About the Narrator

Bob Balaban is the author of the McGrowl series for young readers, and he has appeared in nearly one hundred movies, including Midnight Cowboy, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Waiting for Guffman, and Moonrise Kingdom. He has been nominated for an Oscar, a Tony, four Emmys, a Producers Guild Award, two Directors Guild Awards, and two Screen Actors Guild Awards, one of which he won for his appearance in Gosford Park, a film he also produced. A Chicago native, he now lives in Bridgehampton, New York.