Roone Arledge's extraordinary career of more than a half century mirrors the history of the television industry he helped create. Roone is the vivid, intimate account of his own rise to fame and power as the head of both ABC Sports and ABC News as well as an up-close-and- personal story of his era, peopled with friends and foes alike.
In his long career as an executive at ABC-TV, Roone Arledge revolutionized sports and news broadcasting by emphasizing entertainment and his posthumous memoir (he died in December at age 71), entertains as well. Arledge, who created The Wide World of Sports and Nightline, among other shows, was known as a creative but difficult genius, and no one who reads this book will have trouble understanding why he gained that reputation. He delights in telling how people opposed his innovations such as introducing slow-motion replays and putting three men in a broadcasting booth for Monday Night Football only later to be proven wrong. He also relishes telling war stories of his life at the network from Jim McKay broadcasting live at the 1972 Munich Olympics to a debate between South Africa's foreign minister and Archbishop Desmond Tutu during the peak of the battle over apartheid. He also provides a behind-the scenes look at his four decades of wheeling and dealing with top executives and on-air personalities: Howard Cosell, Barbara Walters, Peter Jennings and Diane Sawyer all trace much of their stardom to Arledge's tutelage and backing. Nor is Arledge afraid to shovel some dirt. Former ABC news anchor Max Robinson is depicted as a drunk who made accusations of racism to cover up his own shortcomings. Arledge laments corporatization of the networks and the resulting decline in the quality of their news broadcasts. Anyone interested in sports, news or television in general will have difficulty putting this valuable book down.