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Right Here on Our Stage Tonight!

Ed Sullivan's America

Gerald Nachman (Author)

Available worldwide
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Paperback, 466 pages
ISBN: 9780520268012
November 2010
$23.95, £17.95
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Before the advent of cable and its hundreds of channels, before iPods and the Internet, three television networks ruled America's evenings. And for twenty-three years, Ed Sullivan, the Broadway gossip columnist turned awkward emcee, ruled Sunday nights. It was Sullivan's genius to take a worn-out stage genre-vaudeville-and transform it into the TV variety show, a format that was to dominate for decades. Right Here on Our Stage Tonight! tells the complete saga of The Ed Sullivan Show and, through the voices of some 60 stars interviewed for the book, brings to life the most beloved, diverse, multi-cultural, and influential variety hour ever to air. Gerald Nachman takes us through those years, from the earliest dog acts and jugglers to Elvis Presley, the Beatles, and beyond. Sullivan was the first TV impresario to feature black performers on a regular basis-including Nat King Cole, Pearl Bailey, James Brown, and Richard Pryor-challenging his conservative audience and his own traditional tastes, and changing the face of American popular culture along the way. No other TV show ever cut such a broad swath through our national life or cast such a long shadow, nor has there ever been another show like it. Nachman's compulsively readable history, illustrated with classic photographs and chocked with colorful anecdotes, reanimates The Ed Sullivan Show for a new generation.
Introduction: Theme Music

Part One. No-Talent Host Tames the One-Eyed Beast

1. Out of the Paley-ozoic Ooze
2. Battle of the Videoville Titans-Berle, Godfrey, and Sullivan
3. A Live Broadway Column Every Sunday Night
4. The $375 Extravaganza
5. Very Critical Condition
6. The Magic of Sullivision

Part Two. How to Succeed in Show Business without Really Talking

7. From Small-Town Sportswriter to Manhattan Sport
8. He's Just an Ink-Stained Broadway Baby
9. Toast of the Nation
10. It's the World, on Line One
11. Sacred Sunday Rite
12. Not Quite All in the Family
13. Extended Family

Part Three. Inside the Star-Making Machine

14. Herding Comedians
15. Backstage Life (and Death)
16. Give My Regards to La Scala
17. Elvis Has Entered the Building
18. Newspaper Wads at Fifty Paces-a Few Off-Camera Feuds
19. Embracing Blacks, Caving In to McCarthyism

Part Four. Rescued by Rock 'n' Roll

20. The Son-in-Law Also Rises
21. “And Now-the Beatles!”
22. The Showman without a Country
23. Echoes and Afterimages

Bibliography
Interviews
Acknowledgments
Index
Photographs follow page
Gerald Nachman is the author of Seriously Funny: The Rebel Comedians of the 1950s and 60s, Out on a Whim: Some Very Close Brushes with Life, The Fragile Bachelor, Playing House and Raised on Radio. He is also a contributor to Esquire, Newsweek, GQ, Cosmopolitan, and the New York Times.
“‘Right Here on Our Stage Tonight! Ed Sullivan's America’ is a memory-lane extravaganza, smart, witty and finely researched, often as picturesque a tour of early TV as of Sullivan and his CBS variety show that would eventually own Sunday nights.”—Howard Rosenberg San Francisco Chronicle
“A fun, affectionate portrayal of the showman. A long time in coming, it’s the tome that Sullivan always deserved.”—Harry Haun Playbill
“A vivid, discerning portrayal of American history through the lens of popular culture. . . . Fans of the show will appreciate the opportunity to relive memorable performances with insight into backstage politics and fighting, including the complex orchestration of acts from Topo Gigio and Señor Wences to Elvis Presley and the Beatles. The real star of the show is Sullivan himself, and Nachman’s compelling analysis of his showbiz genius and unexpected anti-personality appeal.”—Publishers Weekly
”This work is a ‘don’t miss’ of nostalgia and tells the unusual tale of how one of the weirdest guys ever in the outskirts of journalism scored to become one of the weirdest guys ever in the outskirts of early ’60s television.”—Liz Smith Wowowow.com
“A detailed portrait of Sullivan, with insights into the man and his program that ought to interest scholars of American popular culture and media history.”—Journal Of American History
“An amusing, anecdote-rich book. . . . Sullivan had a producer’s nose for knowing when they [big acts such as the Beatles, Barbara Streisand, and the Rolling Stones] were about to jell. And that’s when he had them on the show. Right Here on Our Stage Tonight documents all this and more—much more—with respect, insight and detail. It’s full of ‘remember when’ moments ranging from the bizarre to the insulting.”—Nicholas Read The Calgary Herald
“Nachman’s book offers a readable account of the making of The Ed Sullivan Show, as well as a fair amount of information about Sullivan’s off-camera life.”—Terry Teachout Commentary
“Nachman’s exhaustive research, including dozens of interviews and testimonials, combines with his analytic skills and lively writing style to explain the popularity and influence of The Ed Sullivan Show and its eponymous host.”—Crista Miroiu Media International Australia
“Nachman does full justice to the pathos of his subject. . . . The same year that the Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, Norman Mailer ended his essay on the Republican Convention with the prescient warning, ‘The wars are coming and the deep revolutions of the soul.’ Those wars, later dubbed the ‘culture wars,’ were the death of The Ed Sullivan Show. Under the pressure of those wars, the man who insisted that Americans could unite over good, clean, high-class entertainment—yeah, even with a highbrow moment or two—failed in his noble mission.”—Philip Marchand National Post
“Nachman’s book is no less than a remarkable reconstruction of post-war America as perceived through its changing tastes and values. . . . ‘Saturday Night Live’ and late-night talk shows may be all we have left from the age of the great variety shows, broadcast live. But Right Here on Our Stage Tonight is written with such liveliness and fluidity that Sullivan’s time feels present on every page.”—Ron Slate On The Seawall: A Literary Website
“A fun, affectionate recap of the entertainment cavalcade that paraded, routinely and weekly, ‘right here on our stage.’ It would even make showman Sullivan put on a happy face.”—Hary Haun Playbill
“An important contribution to our understanding of America’s somewhat crazy cultural history. And it is damn entertaining too!”—Bruce Marshall Sacramento Book Rev
“A sweeping work of biography, entertainment history, and cultural criticism . . . Nachman has an encyclopedic knowledge of Americana, and he is particularly good at placing The Ed Sullivan Show in the larger context of America's development.”—Zachary Stewart Theatermania
"Nachman provides a three-dimensional portrait of the man and the show that were part of our national consciousness for over two decades...a detailed analysis on why Sullivan mattered; Nachman is a natural storyteller...a nuanced description of Sullivan's America. Nachman's style is always accessible...a delight for anyone interested in popular culture"—Ron Simon, Curator of Television and Radio, The Paley Center for Media

"A shining gem....One of those rare books you can open anywhere...and be highly entertained. As Ed himself might have said, 'Don't miss it if you can.''"—Dick Cavett, talk show host and online columnist for NYTimes/Opinion
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Interview with the author, Gerald Nachman

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