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Billion Dollar Game: How 3 Men Risked it All and Changed the Face of TV [Paperback]

Peter Bazalgette
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
RRP: £12.99
Price: £7.61 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Book Description

4 April 2005
Cash Mountain. Survive. Project X. In the mid-1990s, these three innovative television shows had hit a dead end before they had even made production. Rejected time and again by the networks, they seemed destined never to reach the screen. But thanks to the brilliance and determination of three men, not only did they get made, they became the biggest and most successful shows on earth: Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, Survivor and Big Brother. BILLION DOLLAR GAME is the compelling story of how Paul Smith, Charlie Parsons and, above all, John de Mol defied overwhelming odds to take the industry by storm, make personal fortunes and transform the map of popular culture. Peter Bazalgette, the man who brought Big Brother to the UK, charts the astonishing rise of reality TV from its humble beginnings on the Internet to the billion-dollar industry it is today.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group (4 April 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316729159
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316729154
  • Product Dimensions: 15 x 22.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 199,756 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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‘A compulsive read’ -- SUNDAY HERALD

‘This book is breathtaking’ -- NEW STATESMAN

‘This is a rattling good business story as well as a tale from medialand’ -- GUARDIAN

About the Author

Peter Bazalgette has created formats such as Ready Steady Cook, Changing Rooms, Ground Force and Big Brother. He has been awarded a BAFTA fellowship and the gold medal by the Royal Television Society. A non-executive director of Channel 4, Peter Bazalgette is also chief creative officer at Endemol International and chairman of Endemol UK, Britain's leading independent producer.

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Customer Reviews

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3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars interesting 25 Mar 2011
By the lambanana TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
written by one the people behind big brother, surprise surprise and deal or no deal.
It show the meteoric rise of endemol when it tripled in value over 18 months.
it's a little old now and doesn't include anything on the woes and troubles that have occurred recently.

recommended to see what happens behind the scenes in the TV industry in dotcom times
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An insiders view of modern media history 6 May 2009
A wonderful resource on how people who would not give up, become rich and changed TV forever. If you want to learn about the people that created the worldwide phenomena that is reality TV, this comes with high praise. Intelligence comes through each of its pages which are clearly written and the book overall is largely well-structured.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars billion dollar game 12 April 2010
Excellent book. Shows that when you believe in your thinking that it can certainly reward you immensely and profitably ! ! !
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Two books in one or half a book? 8 Aug 2005
By Jeremy Jones - Published on Amazon.com
Billion Dollar Game is a difficult book to pitch. On one hand it's the story of how 3 of today's most popular TV formats came into being. On the other it's a business study of the company Endemol and how John DeMol became a rich man. For this reason it's difficult to imagine who this book would appeal to most. As a member of the TV production industry I was fascinated by the story of the 3 shows - from initial ideas, to the constant rejection by networks and subsequent tweaks in format, to eventual success - Bazalgette gives a terrific insiders view. I was less interested though in the big business story - share prices, stock markets, deals and takeovers - all got in the way of the story I wanted to read. I'm sure there are many readers out there who would be fascinated by the business study Bazalgette presents - but it's equally possible that these people couldn't care less about how a TV show comes into being. So Billion Dollar Game is really two books in one - or half a book, depending on your point of view.

The book is actually broken into 2 parts. Part 1 is the story of the 3 formats and the rise of Endemol. Part 2 is a detailed look at Big Brother around the world - the characters and stunts, community reaction, and tales of sex and relationships in the various houses. I enjoyed the first series of my local edition of BB, but as each new series came round the housemates got more annoying and the stunts more contrived. The novelty of the show quickly wore off. So Part 2 really didn't appeal to me and I found myself skipping page after page. Big Brother fans will probably be enthralled - but then they too could well be put off by the earlier study of Endemol's share price and talk of the NASDAQ and the dot.com boom.

The story of the rise of the 3 formats can be difficult to follow too at times. Bazalgette often jumps suddenly from one show to the other, continent to continent, network to network and it can be difficult to keep track of which production head at which network has rejected which show. While obviously well researched, the book names just about every person at every network who was ever approached by the respective creators, and you can easily lose track of who's who.

If you're interested in how a TV show comes into being, or how a company can become a multi-billion dollar juggernaut, or how Big Brother took over the world then you'll undoubtably find parts of this book fascinating. But you may well find yourself wishing Bazalgette had taken a smaller bite of the apple, and eventually put this book back on the shelf with many of the pages untouched.
5.0 out of 5 stars Educative, interesting, highly recommended 23 April 2009
By MythBuster DownUnder - Published on Amazon.com
I've learned a lot from this book, not just about the TV show business but about human nature, even about myself. I agree with the other reviewer, I was also less interested in the detailed accounts of merger meetings, IPO details and stock fluctuations, but without them the book would be incomplete - these are all an integral part of the story.

There are many general business lessons and a few specific negotiating tips in them pages.

Reading through the three intertwined stories of perseverance and rivalry, I even got a few ideas that could be turned into a few new reality TV shows. Now I need a book that will teach me how to protect my ideas before disclosing them to production houses and TV executives. Pity Bazalgette does not address that in his accounts of the pitches and negotiations. That would be my only gripe about this interesting and useful book.
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