RaveNewsday\"Itzkoff brings all this alive through the dogged reporting one would expect of a longtime New York Times culture writer. He knows when to use Williams’ words, from interviews by the author and others, even from Williams’ handwritten script notes. He deftly weaves in evocative quotes from friends/family/peers, and taps written research sources. Topping it off are Itzkoff’s visceral descriptions of Williams’ effervescent performances ... Itzkoff has somehow prepared us well for all of this, keeping us clued into so many aspects of Williams’ life, with finesse and foreboding, but no showy sentiment. His writing is simply imbued with Williams’ special intimate connection.\
PositiveNewsdayTV used to be dominated by the 'universal' worldview of 'ordinary' people — as defined by the mostly male series makers ... Until those 'other' perspectives got a foot in the door, over the past 30 years, and especially the past 15. That expanding focus is chronicled in TV critic Joy Press’ scrupulously reported and lovingly written history Stealing the Show ... Press builds her chronological chapters around talks with series originators who just happen to be women, and who have redefined TV-normal by placing characters who just happen to be women/gay/whatever at the forefront.
RaveNewsdaySorry, jazz. Improvisation has supplanted your status as 'America’s farthest-reaching indigenous art form,' argues author Sam Wasson in his engaging new history, Improv Nation: How We Made a Great American Art ... As he notes, jazz and humor share the literal term 'offbeat.' But only improv, Wasson exalts, can 'alchemize empty space into art' ... Human behavior often yields comedy. That’s how improv has progressed over the last seven decades, the time frame through which Wasson vividly weaves portraits of its big-name players... Wasson (author of 2013’s acclaimed biography Fosse) also digs into the sense of play intrinsic to improv ... The sense of fun that fueled the work also makes Improv Nation an exuberant read. Wasson’s zesty writing conveys the transcendental thrill of on-the-fly soul-baring, of seeking of ever-deeper authenticity. It’s especially compelling in those Chicago explorations.
PositiveNewsdayThis jauntily opinionated 'biography' delivers less chronology than casemaking from its prolific British-born author. But Thomson’s examination of the medium and its messages will drop decades of names/titles through its many chapters on enduring genres and changing tropes. He doesn’t overlook 'the ordinary, casual pleasure' of watching TV, but fears its accrued impact. His arguments vividly deconstruct specific moments, from M*A*S*H to Ricky Gervais’ Golden Globes to — wait for it — Donald Trump.