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Talk Show

A book by Dick Cavett

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The *Ultimate* Raconteur! I Loved "Talk Show!"

  • Dec 7, 2010
  • by
I have limited experience with books in audio format, this being the first (maybe second-if you count a self-help CD) one I've actually listened to, but Dick Cavett's TALK SHOW: CONFRONTATIONS, POINTED COMMENTARY, AND OFF-SCREEN SECRETS was a great way to lose my virginity to the format.

At first, I was shocked at how many CDs there are: eight in all! What did I get myself into!

I've heard of Dick Cavett and knew he had a show but I was too young to have actually been a fan. The only show I really remembered was the one that featured John Lennon and Yoko Ono and that was because it was on the documentary The U.S. vs. John Lennon -- although I had a flashback when watching the bonus video on "Slydini" on CD #8 -- so I really knew little about the host. In fact, I was surprised to learn that he was still alive.

Not only is he alive and well, but Cavett is also writing an op-ed (opinion editorials) blog for The New York Times. And that's what's collected here on TALK SHOW: some of the prime-cuts of that blog from 2007-2010 about his shows, current events, politics, religion, parties, and anything else that catches his fancy including tidbits on Sarah Palin, John McCain and Barack Obama. He even narrates it.

Speaking in a tone that's warm and biting, humorous, with spot-on accents and imitations -- reminiscent of your favorite uncle or a really cool father -- Cavett discusses memories of his television show and encountering some very famous and memorable people like Lennon and Ono, Katherine Hepburn, Richard Burton, chess champion Bobby Fischer, John Wayne, Johnny Carson, Groucho Marx and others.

He talks about being a comedy writer, which I didn't know, writing for Jack Paar and Johnny Carson, and how he wanted to be a magician. You'll learn that he was an award winning gymnast, another surprise, and he talks about what happened behind-the-scenes during some of his more infamous shows like when a guest suddenly died onstage during a taping, and when authors Gore Vidal and Norman Mailer, along with writer/journalist Janet Flanner, got into a war of words (you can find that show clip on YouTube).

Cavett also opens up about the time he encountered a pedophile flasher in the movie theater when he was a kid and about suffering from severe depression as an adult that required him getting shock treatment. Even though these stories deal with serious subject matters, you need not worry that they'll be buzz-killers or downers; Dick has a way of talking about them with honesty, elegance, and devilish humor that makes them seem as though they were banal topics. Maybe "banal" isn't the right word because the topics are certainly interesting, but Cavett takes the sting out of them.

And like a favored uncle or cool father, Cavett offers nuggets of advice for budding writers, journalists and talk show hosts about the tricks-of-the-trade and what to avoid.

I now know the answer to the question, "If you could have dinner with anyone, who would it be?" Cavett seems like he would be the most fun person to be with during dinner with scintillating conversation and wry humor. He's gained himself another fan, and I'll be looking into adding the DVDs of his talk show to my library.

TALK SHOW has 8 CDs, with CDs 1-7 averaging a running time of about 01-hour: 13-minutes each. There are track numbers on each CD, so you may skip up or down, or stop after a track, rather than listening to one CD all at once. CD #8 runs about 21-minutes of audio and includes three bonus videos from "The Dick Cavett Show."

===== BONUS VIDEOS =====
The 3 videos will play on iTunes or other computer video player and are of fair quality, with the Updike and Cheever show being the most clear, but that and the Burton show both display time code (which is an on-screen counter that displays hours, minutes, seconds, and frames used for editing and production purposes).

* Richard Burton -- 1980 -- 1-hour
Watching this video and you'll understand what Cavett was saying about how mesmerizing and commanding Burton was.

* Tony "Slydini" -- 1978 -- 52-minutes
This was Dick's favorite magician and friend. Watching this video, I remembered seeing this show with my father because I always remembered how a trick was done because Slydini showed the audience how he made a wad of paper disappear into thin air and everyone could see how it "vanished," except for the person up onstage. Actually I don't remember the show, just that small clip, so it's funny how the mind retains information. Anyway, this video includes the full episode plus behind-the-scenes taping of promos for the show and continuity re-shoots.

* John Updike and John Cheever -- 1981 -- 33-minutes
The two authors appear together for the first time and talk about their admiration for the other and how their lives paralleled. I've heard of Updike, but not his work, and I've heard of Cheever, but only from "The Cheever Letters" from Seinfeld - Season 4, LOL.

Anyway, if you like hearing wonderful stories, are a fan of Cavett, or thinking about pursuing a job in journalism, writing or hosting, TALK SHOW is a must have item.

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review by . December 07, 2010
I was a huge Dick Cavett Show fan, so I was really looking forward to reading this book.  I was not disappointed.   Dick Cavett's relationship with these stars off screen is captivating.  I think the most surprising was John Wayne.  My favorite was the Groucho Marx quotes, I am such a Groucho Marx fan that I could read those over and over and still laugh.  The book isn't just about the past, there are lots of comments about celebrities and politicians in today's …
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About this book


The erstwhile host of The Dick Cavett Show unburdens himself in this collection of rambling though piquant essays from his New York Times online column. It' s an eclectic and sometimes surprising lineup: on- and off-set celebrity anecdotes; meditations on the art of the comic insult; jaundiced assessments of the 2008 presidential contenders; not one but two apologias for radio DJ Don Imus; scenes from a Nebraska boyhood, with minor hooliganism and encounters with a movie-house pervert. Cavett occasionally lets his affable host' s persona slip to voice idiosyncratic passions, in his plea to ban fat actors from TV commercials, for example, and his snipes at public figures for language mistakes and mispronunciations (he reviles George W. Bush almost as much for saying nucular as for starting the Iraq War). Some pieces misfire, especially when Cavett overuses transcripts from his shows; even the celebrated trash talk showdown between guests Gore Vidal and Norman Mailer lies flat on the printed page. But in his beguiling profiles of celebrities--the deft magician Slydini; the humbled gossip columnist Walter Winchell; an aging John Wayne, who reveals an unheralded appreciation for Noël Coward plays--Cavett proves himself a solid writer as well as a talker.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.--This text refers to theHardcoveredition.
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ISBN-10: 1427210934
ISBN-13: 978-1427210937
Author: Dick Cavett
Genre: Literature & Fiction, Books on CD, Entertainment
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
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