This is referenced by other television authors as one of the greatest ever written about the TV industry--but it's not even close. You have to put up with an author's constant bragging and some misinformation. Mr. Wolper thinks very highly of himself--virtually everything he did he claims was the "first" or "part of television history," and early on he says his company was "one of the greatest incubators of talent in the history of the TV industry." Yet his boasting isn't supported by the facts and a number of details in the book are just plain wrong.
It's the story of an under-educated salesman with no background in the TV business who stumbled into making documentaries, which eventually led to producing some other successful series, events and mini-series. He states the facts in a somewhat dull manner and reveals little about the "whys" behind his decisions. He speeds through significant events (like his marriages and divorces) and gives too much detail on some insignificant things (like a show called "Divorce Hearing"). The book ends up being very much like his productions--filled with facts and minor details but missing an emotional connection to the audience.
The book, like his films, recreates history in a way that isn't quite accurate. He says one of his movies was the first to use American Indians to play native American roles, that he was the first to do "historical drama" (tell that to Cecil B. DeMille!) and that he was the first to put nature documentaries on prime time TV (about 20 years after Walt Disney actually did it!). He even at one point says, "I would pioneer a new television format, the miniseries" but then later recants with, "I may not actually be the father of the miniseries, but I can certainly claim to be a close relative." Either you did or you didn't--and, as in most of the things he says, he didn't.
You feel like he wants to leave this book as a rewrite of history so that future generations will see him as much more important than he really was. No doubt his company did some major work (Roots, Thorn Birds, Willie Wonka), but even those, in retrospect, look somewhat cheesy. There's no sense in this book that he understands that he wasn't the greatest producer in the history of the medium.
There are a couple interesting details. Get Christie Love was supposed to star Cicely Tyson but she quit two days before it started shooting. Quaker Oats financed Willie Wonka in order to introduce a new candy bar (which is why the movie title was changed from the book). And John Travolta insisted on staying on Welcome Back Kotter after his movie success, but he recorded all of his scenes over a two-month period.
At one point in the book the author actually admits that he staged some scenes of his "news" documentaries, and then heckles those who uphold journalistic standards which say you should never stage anything for a news piece! He isn't a true documentarian--he's just a showman trying to make a buck. He tries to make his "documentaries" news (by which there are professional standards that he didn't seem to follow) but they are really entertainment (which allowed him to gain from the creative history of others). Bottom line he was a salesman who really didn't know much about the business other than how to scramble to do anything to make a sale.
After awhile his self-praise gets so old. On just about every page there's another misleading claim or boast. He says he started the reality TV format (uh...no he didn't), he says at one point that he "changed history," a plane crash that killed his crew members was "the most devastating accident in the history of the entertainment industry, and he claimed he was "one of the top ten men who understood the women's movement."
I recommend the reader skim through the first hundred pages to get to some of the interesting, more modern, TV stories. The dry storytelling style and constant bragging otherwise makes for a long read.