A memoir by the legendary television executive detailing his pioneering work on Saturday Night Live, Sunday Night Football, the Olympics, the NBA, music videos, late night, and more.
Think of an important moment in live TV over the last half-century. Dick Ebersol was likely involved.
Dropping out of college to join the crew of ABC’s Wide World of Sports, Ebersol worked the Mexico City Olympics during the famous protest by John Carlos and Tommie Smith as well as the Munich Olympics during the tragic hostage standoff. He went on to cocreate Saturday Night Live with Lorne Michaels and later produced the show for four seasons, helping launch Eddie Murphy to stardom. After creating Friday Night Videos and partnering with Vince McMahon to bring professional wrestling to network TV, he next took over NBC Sports, which helped turn basketball into a global phenomenon and made history as the first broadcaster to host the World Series, the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals, and the Summer Olympics in the same year; it was Ebersol who was responsible for Muhammad Ali lighting the Olympic flame in Atlanta. Then, following a plane crash that took the life of his fourteen-year-old son Teddy and nearly killed him, he determinedly undertook perhaps his greatest career achievement: creating NBC’s Sunday Night Football, still the #1 primetime show in America. The Today show’s headline-making hosting changes, the so-called “Late-Night Wars,” O.J. Simpson’s Bronco chase—Ebersol had a front-row seat to it all.
From Saturday Night to Sunday Night is filled with entertaining and illuminating stories featuring such boldface names as Billy Crystal, Michael Jordan, Bill Clinton, Jay Leno, Peyton Manning, Michael Phelps, and Larry David. (Ebersol even inspired the famous Seinfeld episode in which George Costanza pretends he didn’t quit his job.) More than that, the book offers an insightful history and analysis of TV’s evolution from broadcast to cable and beyond—a must-read for casual binge-watchers and small-screen aficionados alike.