Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Behind the Curtain, Dave Berg

Behind the Curtain: An Insider’s View of Jay Leno’s Tonight Show

Dave Berg

Category: Celebrity

Synopsis: The Tonight Show with Jay Leno co-producer, Dave Berg, recounts favorite stories about his years with the show.

Date finished: 16 August 2014

Rating: ***

Let’s get this out there first thing. I love Jay Leno. I’ve kinda had a thing for him since he took over the Tonight Show in 1992. Something about a man who can make me laugh is just irresistible to me. All of the guys I’ve ever dated have had a wicked sense of humor. If you can’t make me laugh, good luck winning my heart.*

That goofball smile, that caricature chin, and the suits are all nice extras.

So, given the infatuation, it’s no surprise that I was all over this book when it came out. It’s a behind the scenes look at the Tonight Show with Jay Leno as told by its producer, Dave Berg. It’s full of stories of various actors and actresses, musicians, athletes, and politicians. It also tackles the early 1990s late night war with David Letterman and the bizarre NBC scheduling decisions of 2009 moving the king of late night an hour earlier, giving the Tonight Show to Conan O’Brien, who tanked spectacularly, and then bringing Jay back to the late night hour, but on short contract. If you still haven’t figured out what the NBC execs were thinking, Berg can help you out.

So, I enjoyed this book. It was fair and honest. Some of the stories were fascinating and I spent a lot of time while I was reading the book relaying the stories to my husband.

The thing is, the book was poorly written. Berg may have written jokes and skits for Leno, but he’s not much of a writer. Nor, oddly, is he very funny. In many spots, the book just fell flat. I would just groan. He tells a long, long story about Dennis Rodman, for instance, that goes absolutely nowhere. His segues are amateurish. He’s just not much of a writer. Though, I have to say, he’s a seriously nice guy.

But, I guess I’d say the book is worth the bad writing for the celebrity stories. You’ll find out who Jay’s favorite guest was, which guest’s appearance ended the late night war with Letterman once and for all, which guest appeared more often than any other, which guests they wish they could have gotten but never did, and which politician guest did his pre-show rundown interview while peeing behind a half-open door.

Would you recommend this to a friend?
A Leno fan, yes.

You might also enjoy:
Leading with My Chin

*Yes, I’m happy to report that my husband’s a very funny guy. Hi honey! No, I’m not really in love with Jay Leno.

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