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Daniel M. Kimmel

...film critic, author, movie historian

Daniel M. Kimmel is a Boston-area film reviewer and past president of the Boston Society of Film Critics. He has been reviewing since 1983. His work currently appears in the Worcester Telegram and Gazette. He also serves as the Boston correspondent for Variety, the “Bible of Show Business.” Kimmel’s byline has appeared in numerous publications including The Christian Daniel Kimmel...film critic, author, movie historian - Photo Credit Carsten Turner
Photo Credit: Carsten Turner
Science Monitor, The Boston Globe, Film Comment, and Cinefantastique. He has served as contributing editor to the Boston Business Journal and did the “Inside Boston Television” column for the Boston Herald.  He is a frequent guest on New England Cable News, serving as substitute film critic during summer 2002.  He also does a column on classic science fiction films for Artemis magazine. He is the co-author of the play “The Waldorf Conference,” about the birth of the Hollywood blacklist, and of the author of four books.  His book on FOX, The Fourth Network: How FOX Broke the Rules and Reinvented Television, was awarded the Cable Center Book Award for 2004.

As a speaker, Daniel Kimmel draws from his experiences viewing more than 300 movies each year as well as his time teaching in college.  Since 1985, he has taught film-related courses at Emerson College, Boston University, and, since 1998, at Suffolk University.

Mr. Kimmel has spoken before a wide variety of groups: Mensa (the high IQ organization), Alpha Omega (a fraternal dental organization), Massachusetts’ Department of Mental Health, a Harvard University conference on drug laws, Brookline Rotary, the World Science Fiction Convention, and numerous synagogue, brotherhood, and sisterhood groups.  He also speaks regularly for Brookline Adult Education, and the two leading science fiction conventions in the Boston area, ARISIA and BOSKONE.  Besides general lectures, he has also spoken on individual films at Temple Israel (Boston), Heritage House, Talk Cinema, and Congregation Mishkan Tefila, and the Solomon Shechter PTO.  He also appears with some frequency on radio and TV including “The David Brudnoy Show” (WBZ-AM), “Jay Carr’s Screening Room” (New England Cable News), and “Talking Religion” (WRKO-AM).

Born in Long Island City, New York, he studied at the University of Rochester and received a law degree from Boston University.

Mr. Kimmel lives in Brookline, Massachusetts, where he occasionally watches The Simpsons with his wife and daughter.

Daniel M. Kimmel is available for keynote speeches, seminars and extended residencies.


Suggested Speech Topics

“Sex And Love In The Movies”
“The Fourth Network: How FOX Changed The Rules of Television” “Who Needs Film Critics?”
“Ten Movies That Changed The Movies”
“Lessons Learned In The New Hollywood”

Books Written By Daniel M. Kimmel

I’ll Have What She’s Having: Behind the Scenes of the Great Romantic Comedies
(2008, Ivan R. Dee)

The Dream Team: The Rise and Fall of DreamWorks--Lessons from the New Hollywood
(2006, Ivan R. Dee)

The Fourth Network: How FOX Broke the Rules and Reinvented Television
(2004, Ivan R. Dee)

Love Stories: Hollywood’s Most Romantic Movies (1992, Longmeadow Press).

I'll have what she's having: behind the scenes of the great romantic comedies  The Dream Team: The rise and fall of dreamworks--lessons from the New Hollywood  The Fourth Network: How FOX Broke the Rules and Reinvented Television


About I’ll Have What She’s Having: Behind the Scenes of the Great Romantic Comedies

Reprinted with permission of Ivan R. Dee, Chicago, Illinois, USA.

While film genres go in and out of style, the romantic comedy endures--from year to year and generation to generation.  Endlessly adaptable, the romantic comedy form has thrived since the invention of film as a medium of entertainment, touching on universal predicaments: meeting for the first time, the battle of the sexes, and the bumpy course of true love.  These films celebrate lovers who play and improvise together, no matter how nutty or at what great odds they may appear. As Eugene Pallette mutters in My Man Godfrey (1936), "All you need to start an asylum is an empty room and the right kind of people."  Daniel Kimmel's book about romantic comedy is like watching a truly funny movie with a knowledgeable friend.  In considering the "greatest of these films" over time, Mr. Kimmel explains why When Harry Met Sally (1989) was called "the greatest movie Woody Allen never made."  Or how off-screen relationships helped My Man Godfrey (William Powell and Carole Lombard were divorced but remained friends) but interfered with Sabrina (where Audrey Hepburn was having an off-screen affair with co-star William Holden, though her character was supposed to be falling in love with her other co-star, Humphrey Bogart).

From Trouble in Paradise (1932) to There's Something About Mary (1998) and Love, Actually (2003), Mr. Kimmel uncovers the idealized and often uproarious images of true love that have grown to become part of our understanding of romance.  In I'll Have What She's Having he helps us meet the actors, screenwriters, directors, and producers who accomplished this trick and shows us how they pooled their talents and did it.

"This collection of self-contained essays about films, ranging from Adam's Rib to Annie Hall is full of behind-the-scenes details on the making of the movies. It's almost like being there."
Chicago Tribune

"Tony Curtis said romantic moments with Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot were like 'kissing Hitler' and Hector Elizondo was paid out of Garry Marshall's pocket for Pretty Woman because Disney balked at paying him top dollar for a small role. One of the surprises of this entertaining behind-the-scenes look at romantic comedies is how miserable everyone was.  Comedy is hard, love is worse."
The New York Post

"You may think you know everything about the great romantic comedies of Hollywood, but unless you've read this book you're wrong. Dan Kimmel puts it all in one place with scholarly diligence, an ear for gossip and great dialogue, and a sheer love of the movies. A treat for neophytes and hardcore cineastes alike, not to mention a handy guide for in-home night viewing."

Ty Burr, author of The Best Old Movies for Families, The Boston Globe



About The Dream Team: The Rise and Fall of DreamWorks–Lessons from the New Hollywood

Reprinted with permission of Ivan R. Dee, Chicago, IL, USA.

On October 12, 1994, Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and David Geffen–three of Hollywood's biggest players–announced they would form a new studio to produce feature films, television series, and pop music recordings. It didn't have a name, though Katzenberg's reference to his partners as the "Dream Team" eventually led to the company being dubbed DreamWorks. What the three men were attempting hadn't been done in more than sixty years: create a movie studio that could compete with the already existing major players.  In The Dream Team, Daniel Kimmel tells the behind-the-scenes story of DreamWorks' rise–and the end of the dream eleven years later, when most of the company was sold off or shut down.  Its plan for 1,087 acres of studio facilities that would include residences and retail operations came to naught.  Its animation division was split off and went public.  Its principals had already begun to go their own ways.  Mr. Kimmel explores DreamWorks' successes: best-picture Oscars for American Beauty and Gladiator; a near miss (but box office success) for Saving Private Ryan; a smash animated hit, Shrek winning the first Oscar ever for best animated feature and pointing the industry toward computer animation.  But he also investigates why an enterprise with such promise failed to reach the heights.  Was it the company's diffuse management style, or had the industry changed and consolidated so greatly that it was now impossible for new players to break into the ranks?  Mr. Kimmel offers intriguing answers, showing how, more often than not, the guys tilting at windmills usually end up on the ground.

"Kimmel is at his most adroit...Kimmel turns movie history into a saga...readable, fascinating history cum analysis...Highly recommended."
T. Cripps, Morgan State University, emeritus, Choice

"A genuine page-turner."
Film Review

“A brisk read that hits all the high--and low--points of this failed experiment in artistic autonomy."
Allen B. Ury, Fade In Magazine

"Combining faultless research with a sure grasp of story telling, Kimmel adds an important chapter to the history of contemporary film."
Brookline Booksmith

"With plenty of enthusiasm for his subject matter, Daniel M. Kimmel covers the history of Dreamworks and doesn't neglect the animation released by the studio that was going to change Hollywood."
René Walling, fps magazine

"[A] glimpse into the complex relationship among three of the industry's most powerful players."
Ian Breen, Bostonia

"A perceptive and richly textured narrative.... A worthwhile read!"
James Robert Parish, author of Fiasco! A History of Hollywood's Iconic Flops

"Kimmel expertly chronicles the establishment and evolution of DreamWorks.... Did they succeed? The answer will surprise you."
Gary K. Wolf, creator of Roger Rabbit

"Smart and concise...a definitive book on the late studio. But it's also an unexpected cracker of a read."

MaryAnn Johanson, FlickFilosopher.com



About The Fourth Network: How FOX Broke the Rules and Reinvented Television

Reprinted with permission of Ivan R. Dee, Chicago, Illinois, USA.    

“A fourth American television network?  It wasn’t exactly a joke,” writes Daniel M. Kimmel in THE FOURTH NETWORK.  “It was more like an impossible dream, almost something from the realm of science fiction, like a perpetual motion machine or  spaceships that could go faster than the speed of light.  Everyone knew how television worked.  There were the Big Three networks, and there was everything else.”

“What we found was a tremendous vacuum essentially,” said FOX’s Vice President of Research, Andrew Fessel, “every viewer had a problem with every network.  They would say things like, ‘They canceled my favorite show’ or ‘Their shows are all the same,’ or ‘They only do one show that’s a hit and then everybody copies that.’  There was a very strong theme of  repetitive complaints about the three networks that indicated to us that if we had innovative programming, if we had programming that focused on particular age groups, if we had programming that pushed the edge, if we had programming that we really stood behind, then we thought we could really appeal to a very strong need and interest that the consumers were indicating to us that they had.”

When Garth Ancier left NBC for the start-up FOX Network, NBC head Grant Tinker told Ancier he was making a terrible mistake.  “I will never put a fourth column on my schedule board,” Ancier recalls Tinker telling him.  “There will only be three.”
 
Today, slightly more than twenty years later, FOX is routinely referred to as one of the “Big Four” television networks while others like UPN, PAX, and the WB have strived to be number five.  The Australian-born media mogul Rupert Murdoch, Barry Diller, and the many executives who have worked at the FOX  Network over the years changed the rules of the game.  They showed it was possible to build and sustain a fourth American television network through innovations in prime-time shows, sports, children’s entertainment, news, and new business models that challenged the assumptions of how the industry operated. 

Mr. Kimmel’s lively account of the FOX story carries the reader from the launch of the ill-fated Joan Rivers Show in 1986 to the challenging media environment of the twenty-first century--an environment FOX helped create.  THE FOURTH NETWORK is filled with behind-the-scenes wheeling and dealing, outsized personalities, improbable risk-takers, and the triumphs and disasters that led to such signature television series as The Simpsons, Beverly Hills 90210, The X Files, and America’s Most Wanted

For better or worse--or perhaps a bit of both--the story of the rise of FOX is the story of contemporary American television.

The Big Three Out-Foxed

A review of THE FOURTH NETWORK  by NOAH OPPENHEIM 
Wall Street Journal, June 11, 2004; Page W4
Reprinted with permission.
 
By today's standards, Married...With Children seems tame.  But in 1989, the crude misadventures of Al Bundy and his dysfunctional family so outraged Terry Rakolta, a Michigan housewife, that she launched a national crusade to have the show taken off the air.  A vast letter-writing campaign and an advertiser exodus later, "Married" had gone from modest success to ratings smash, and the upstart FOX network was suddenly a red-hot destination for the living-room remote.
 
The backfiring of Ms. Rakolta's protest was just one episode in the unexpected triumph of Rupert Murdoch's effort to challenge the so-called Big Three networks.  How he prevailed, and how FOX changed the landscape of American media, is the story told by Daniel M. Kimmel in THE FOURTH NETWORK  (Ivan R. Dee, 323 pages, $27.50).
 
Mr. Kimmel does not put us inside significant decisions as often as we might like, or paint his major characters in vivid strokes. But he is thorough, and his subject is sufficiently engaging to carry his book along nicely. He is clearly impressed by what Mr. Murdoch and FOX have accomplished, and understandably so. It is hard to overstate the extent to which FOX has redefined the industry.
 
When Grant Tinker, the head of NBC, first heard that Mr. Murdoch was launching FOX in the mid-1980s, he turned to his wall charts, with the lineups of ABC, CBS and his own network, and declared: "I will never put a fourth column on my schedule board."  Of course, the schedule board soon had a fourth column, and for the past 15 years the shows in it have been defining television trends.
 
In  Cops, we see the beginnings of "unscripted" entertainment television, and in the more recent American Idol, one of the genre's great successes. In the popularity of America's Most Wanted we see the origins of NBC's later decision to constantly run Dateline true-crime specials.  Such shows are cheap to produce, and people love a real-life mystery.  Beverly Hills 90210 gave us the prime-time teenage soap, a format around which the WB would later build an entire network.  In Living Color brought edgy, urban humor into the mainstream and, along with  Martin and  Roc, demonstrated that it pays not to ignore the African-American audience.  The Simpsons continues to set the standard for comedy writing.  Ally McBeal, otherwise known as Calista Flockhart, landed on the cover of Time magazine next to Gloria Steinem.

Of course, by breaking new ground, FOX often stepped in the mud.  Who can forget Studs, When Animals Attack and Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?  Mr. Kimmel shies away from judging FOX's normative effect on American pop culture, and perhaps rightly.  After all, how does one weigh the contribution of a smart show like 24 against the harm done by Temptation Island?
 
Mr. Kimmel explains that FOX leveraged its successes to accomplish what the other networks had never managed to do--turn itself into a brand, in this case a brand that meant hip, young and sometimes outrageous.  Now all the networks leave their logos onscreen and strive for a distinct identity.  It's easier for niche channels in cable, where HBO has arguably stolen from FOX the mantle of innovative programming.  FOX also invented a way of defining commercial success, selling ad time based not on total households but on its share of 18-to-34 year-old viewers.  In the process it made a killing, especially with film studios promoting new releases to that demographic group.  Today "the demo" is all that matters inside the networks and on Madison Avenue.
 
Mr. Kimmel focuses on more than just programming. He devotes time to the many battles that FOX executives fought with affiliates and the Federal Communications Commission in their effort to build a national broadcast network. He leaves no doubt that Mr. Murdoch's deep pockets were indispensable, not to mention a friendly regulatory atmosphere and a forceful lobbying team in Washington. And he chronicles the extraordinary turnover that has characterized FOX's executive suites for much of its existence.
 
The people who have passed through FOX's revolving door constitute a TV who's who: Jamie Kellner (who launched the WB), Garth Ancier (who ran NBC Entertainment and now runs the WB), Lucie Salhany (now at UPN) and, of course, the legendary Barry Diller. What stands out is both the collective talent of these people and the odd way talent is defined in television.
 
No one person who ran FOX ever launched more than one or two successful shows amid dozens of flops.  And they rarely recognized what would work before it became a hit.  Mr. Kimmel reports that Mr. Diller hated almost every show that made FOX a success.  Ms. Salhany, when she was in charge, argued that In Living Color should fire Jim Carrey. And in 1993, FOX's chief programmer, Sandy Grushow (until recently chairman of the FOX TV Entertainment Group), promised to eat his desk if a show called  The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. didn't launch its male lead into megastardom.  Meanwhile, he did everything in his power to block another show he believed destined to fail.  It was called  The X-Files.  His desk remains unconsumed.

Mr. Oppenheim is a former producer at MSNBC.

"A captivating tale that's well worth the read.... Kimmel's book is a success in its own right."
Seth Donlin, Boston's Weekly Dig

"The Fourth Network deserves a place on the shelf of any serious observer of the American media--industrial complex."
Jimmie Reeves, Television Quarterly

"Useful in academic collections....Highly recommended....accessible at all levels."
C. Sterling, George Washington University, Choice

"An informative read....A straightforward recap of how Murdoch did it."
The Atlantic's "Editor's Choice" review

"Kimmel is in the perfect position to present the story of FOX....Chapters are lively."
The Bookwatch

"He certainly knows television...something he demonstrates rather nicely....Thorough... careful research."
Worcester Magazine

"Kimmel's new book is worthy reading for broadcasting professionals, in particular."
The Financial Manager

"Entertaining new history."
Technology Liberation Front

"It's a captivating tale that's well worth the read."
Weekly Dig

"This narrative of the birth of FOX Television is laden with first-person accounts, and Kimmel relies on several former FOX executives and staff members for behind-the-scenes information."
Library Journal

"Kimmel offers a behind-the-scenes look at the corporate and financial machinations behind the creation of a fourth network 20 years ago, at a time when few could imagine a viable network beyond the Big Three."
Booklist

"He is throrough, and his subject is sufficiently engaging to carry his book along nicely."
Dow Jones News Service

"Kimmel's riveting study offers not only a masterful account of the evolution of the FOX network but also a grand narrative of the politics of the television industry."
ForeWord Magazine

"Kimmel has written a deeply researched and fast moving history of FOX--a crucial player in the rapid transformation of American television, from almost total domination by three established networks to a highly varied assortment of viewer choices."
Leo Bogart, author of The Age of Television, Commercial Culture, and Finding Out

"Dan Kimmel nails it! He makes the inside story of the boldly, innovative FOX Network come alive. Has it really been twenty years?"
Paula Lyons, former consumer editor, ABC TV's “Good Morning America”

"Kimmel has done his homework...Rich in anecdotage and specifics, it offers a rear-view perspective on the way FOX came out of nowhere."

The New York Times Book Review

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