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Publisher's Summary

From the New York Times best-selling author of Those Guys Have All the Fun comes Tinderbox, the unvarnished, comprehensive, and astonishing history of HBO, told for the first time through the disruptors who led its epic rise to prestige and changed the way we watch television forever.

The exclusive story of HBO’s key creators, executives, actors, and directors gives listeners an unprecedented peek behind the curtain at the founding and triumph of the first “pay-channel” that brought America The Sopranos, Sex and the City, The Wire, Succession, and countless groundbreaking, culture-shifting shows. James Andrew Miller collects insider accounts of the humble beginnings, devastating missteps, controversial business decisions, and, of course, backstage drama and celebrity gossip from the set.

Since televisions entered Americans’ living rooms, the question of whether programming should be “free” - paid for with advertising - has loomed, to the extent that some broadcasters, lobbyists, and fearmongers warned someone would come along and disrupt their Madison Avenue-championed business model. But who would pay for something that had always been free? Home Box Office dared to ask that question in 1972, opening the doors for other pay-channels and ultimately the streaming platforms that are now the norm. They created different, better content - or at least they convinced viewers that different was better. HBO gave us violent scenes with blood and guts, shows like Tales from the Crypt that were actually scary, rom-coms with sex instead of suggestion. We take their big-budget, “prestige” TV for granted now, but their success was far from assured at the outset.

HBO’s audacity built the viewing culture we have today and permanently transformed the television landscape.

A Macmillan Audio production from Henry Holt and Company

©2021 James Andrew Miller (P)2021 Macmillan Audio

What listeners say about Tinderbox

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great info marred by unedited mispronunciations

Very interesting material that gives great insight into the business and creative of HBO from inception to present day. Some folks may be more interested in the business stories - some may only want the interviews behind the beloved shows. I wanted it all and it delivered. However, and it's a big HOWEVER, this audio book seems unedited. Second and third takes of line readings, mistaken pronunciations, etc. made this a bit of a slog to get through. I'm amazed it was published without the editing being complete.

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Good listen brutalized by narrators

Narrators were awful. Main narrator sounded like he rolled out of bed after a night of cigarettes and bourbon - mispronounced a lot of words. Female narrator overacts - sounds like a valley girl. Story was ok. Too much emphasis on including every name that worked at HBO

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

It’s good, but it ain’t great.

First, the released audiobook uses a rough cut that has our narrators repeating himself or herself using a different inflection in delivery.
Annoying to say the least.

As for the content, I very much enjoyed the look into my favorite television production company since childhood. You get detailed analysis early and entertaining backstabbing bureaucratic nonsense but it dwindled into bitching about change and diversification of projects and management thereof.
The productions details were rich but fell short of embarrassing the talent that’s worked for the network.
I liked it but I won’t go pushing this on my friends

1 person found this helpful

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The audiobook is embarrassingly edited.

It just feels like a rough cut. Names are mispronounced. There are endless times where the same sentence is said twice. The book itself is great but the audio version just frustrated me so much.

1 person found this helpful

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Awesome

I have not gotten through the 1st chapter and it is amazing. Well read by the author and others.

1 person found this helpful

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Unlistenable, lazy story telling

So much of the book is "quotes read by over-emoting voice actors". The author doesn't so much weave as tee up the next quote to be read. I was very interested in this topic, but two hours in decided there was no way I was giving up 43 hours of my life listening to yet another name drop (of which there are plenty)...

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The ins and outs of HBO past and present

In depth history of the entity of HBO.

As a film/TV buff, it's fascinating and covers just about everything. Listen to 1.4x to reduce the mammoth 44+ hr runtime

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Expert Storytelling

James Andrew Miller strikes gold once again with this engrossing work. Tinderbox does such a great job of unpacking the quintessential story of HBO.

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Interesting mix of creative and corp politics

Was fun to hear the beginnings and struggles of HBO and all of the challenges managing big corporate and keeping the creative secret sauce protected. I’ve got a list of content I need to watch now too!

The editing of the audio book seemed a little sloppy but it didn’t bother me. The actors did a fine job.

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Worth the Time but…

Fairly indispensable history of an important entertainment institution. Upsides are some great corporate intrigue details, including executive backbiting and competition, insight into how content comes to be, and fun background into your favorite shows.

Downsides include a generally vanilla/positive take on the organization, when more critiques were appropriate; reporting of excessive superlatives about shows and colleagues, and somewhat random choices about which shows to cover and in how much detail.

Main narrator was not particularly effective; others were more so. Anyone interested in the entertainment world should read it.