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The Essential HBO Reader

by Gary R. Edgerton and Jeffrey P. Jones

Availableweb pdf$25.00x 978-0-8131-4371-2
Availableepub$25.00x 978-0-8131-4372-9
Availablepaperback$25.00x 978-0-8131-9248-2
Out of Printcloth$50.00x 978-0-8131-2452-0
Essential Readers in Contemporary Media and Culture
372 pages  Pubdate: 01/18/2008  6 x 9 x .875  53 photos

A comprehensive and compelling examination of one of cable television’s most innovative and popular networks, The Essential HBO Reader looks at every aspect of HBO’s development as a corporation, a creative voice, and a brand. The authors explore the network’s diverse repertoire of programming, from drama to comedy to documentaries and sports—including such acclaimed shows as The Sopranos, Sex in the City, Angels in America, America Undercover, and Def Comedy Jam—as they detail HBO’s nearly forty-year history and its profound influence on the entertainment industry.

The founding of Home Box Office in the early 1970s was a harbinger of the innovations that transformed television as an industry and a technology in the decades that followed. HBO quickly became synonymous with subscription television and became the leading force in cable programming. Having interests in television, motion picture, and home video industries was crucial to its success. HBO diversified into original television and movie production, home video sales, and international distribution as these once-separate entertainment sectors began converging into a global entertainment industry in the mid-1980s. HBO has grown from a domestic movie channel to an international cable-and-satellite network with a presence in over seventy countries. It is now a full-service content provider with a distinctive brand of original programming and landmark shows such as The Sopranos and Sex and the City. The network is widely recognized for its award-winning, innovative and provocative programming, including dramatic series such as Six Feet Under and The Wire, miniseries such as Band of Brothers and Angels in America, comedies such as Curb Your Enthusiasm and Def Comedy Jam, sports shows such as Inside the NFL and Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, documentary series such as Taxi Cab Confessions and Autopsy, and six Oscar-winning documentaries between 1999 and 2004. In The Essential HBO Reader, editors Gary R. Edgerton and Jeffrey P. Jones bring together an accomplished group of scholars to explain how HBO’s programming transformed the world of cable television and how the network continues to shape popular culture and the television industry. Now, after more than three and a half decades, HBO has won acclaim in four distinct programming areas—drama, comedy, sports, and documentaries—emerging as TV’s gold standard for its breakout series and specials. The Essential HBO Reader provides a comprehensive and compelling examination of HBO’s development into the prototypical entertainment corporation of the twenty-first century.

"Describes the complexities and ambiguities of the channel, its history, its unique business model, and its individual programs. Gary Edgerton and Jeffrey Jones have assembled a dream team of television scholars, some of whom have been paying attention to HBO since its debut in 1972. There are a lot of essay collections about television out there these days"--Robert J. Thompson Director, Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture Sy

"This is a splendid collection of scholarship and critical thinking. The authors have managed to tame and corral a very important aspect of American media history and yet allowed it to remain daring and unconventional."--Terry Lindvall, author of Surprised by Laughter: The Comic World of C. S. Lewis

"In the ever-expanding universe of cable, satellite and digital broadcasting, the authors explore how HBO fights to remain the frontrunner in innovative programming. Essential reading!"--Kathryn Fuller-Seeley, author of At the Picture Show: Small Town Audiences and

"Coeditors Edgerton and Jones have added a critical component to the study of television and American culture. The result is a fascinating book that is indeed essential reading for anyone with an interest in media history."--Mary Ann Watson, author of Defining Visions: Television and the American Experi

"Comprehensive and informative on a topic that deserves to be analyzed in-depth. HBO really did write an important new chapter in television history and has not received the scholarly attention that is its due." --Michael T. Marsden, coeditor of In the Eye of the Beholder: Critical Perspectives

“An important assessment of the original programming HBO has created in the past few decades—how these programs are derived and what impact they have had. Recommended.”—Choice

"Because Edgerton and Jones offer such a thorough treatment of HBO's programming, their volume is a useful addition to a growing number of books about American television in the 'post-network' era."--American Studies