Tom Shales

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Tom Shales
Born (1944-11-03) November 3, 1944 (age 76)
Elgin, Illinois, U.S.
  • Critic
  • author
Alma materAmerican University
Notable works
  • Live from New York
  • Those Guys Have All the Fun
Notable awardsPulitzer Prize for Criticism (1988)

Thomas William Shales (born November 3, 1944) is an American writer and retired critic of television programming and operations. He was a television critic for The Washington Post from 1977 to 2010, for which Shales received the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 1988. He also writes a column for the television news trade publication NewsPro, published by Crain Communications.

Life and career[edit]

Shales was born in Elgin, Illinois, the son of Hulda Louise (née Reko) and Clyde LeRoy Shales. Shales's first professional job was with radio station WRMN/WRMN-FM in Elgin at the age of 18. He served on the station's disc jockey, local news reporter, writer and announcer, on both the AM and FM bands. He later worked with Voice of America as a producer of broadcasts to the Far East.[1]

Shales graduated from American University in Washington, D.C., where he was editor-in-chief of the student newspaper, The Eagle, for the 1966–1967 academic year,[2] as well as the paper's movie critic.[1]

Shales worked as entertainment editor at the Washington Examiner from 1968 to 1971.[3] He joined The Washington Post as a writer in the Style section in 1972, was named chief television critic in July 1977, and was appointed TV editor in June 1979.[1] In 2006, he ceased to be a staff writer for the Post and went on contract, where he remained until 2010, when he was laid off entirely by the newspaper.[4][5]

During 1998–1999, Shales was a frequent film critic for Morning Edition on National Public Radio.[6] He was twice a guest co-host on the television show Roger Ebert & the Movies after the death of Gene Siskel.[7] Shales was a member of the Peabody Awards Board of Jurors from 1991 to 1996.[8]

Shales has published four books, including two he co-wrote with James Andrew Miller. In 2002, Shales and Miller published Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, which covers the history of the sketch-comedy variety show, and provides a behind-the-scenes look at its stars and production process.[9] The book was re-released in 2015 to coincide with Saturday Night Live's 40th anniversary. The updated edition contained over 100 pages of new material.[10] In 2011, Shales and Miller published their second book together, Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN, which chronicles the history of the network ESPN from its infancy in 1979 through 2010.[11] In 2015, the Focus Features optioned the book to adapt it into a movie.[12]

Of Shales, the Forbes Media Guide Five Hundred, 1994 wrote: "Forget the middle ground, Shales either loves it or hates it – and his reviews of TV shows and personalities are often unabashed paroxysms of that love or hate....Like the medium he covers, Shales turns out fast-paced and amusing fare that often lacks depth".[13]


Shales received the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 1988 for his work at The Washington Post.[1]

Selected works[edit]

  • On the Air!. New York: Summit Books. 1982.
  • Legends: Remembering America's Greatest Stars. New York: Random House. 1989. ISBN 978-0394575216
  • James Andrew Miller (2002). Live from New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live. New York: Little, Brown and Co. ISBN 978-0316295062
  • Miller, James; Shales, Tom (2011). Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN (1st Back Bay pbk. ed.). New York: Back Bay Books. ISBN 9780316043007. OCLC 668192506.


  1. ^ a b c d "Washington Post – News Service & Syndicate". Retrieved October 19, 2015.
  2. ^ American University Library – History of The Eagle
  3. ^ Biography for Tom Shales at IMDb
  4. ^ Bryan Alexander (October 22, 2010). "Tom Shales Confirms He Will Leave Washington Post after 39 Years". The Hollywood Reporter.
  5. ^ "Tom Shales: I'm Leaving Washington Post, Am Heavily In Debt". HuffPost. October 22, 2010. Retrieved October 2, 2021.
  6. ^ Tom Shales – Rotten Tomatoes, Rotten Tomatoes
  7. ^ "Tom Shales". IMDb. Retrieved October 19, 2015.
  8. ^ "The Peabody Awards". Retrieved October 19, 2015.
  9. ^ "Tom Shales & James Andrew Miller: Live From New York: An Uncensored History Of Saturday Night Live As Told By Its Stars, Writers & Guests". November 8, 2002. Retrieved August 17, 2017.
  10. ^ "An Updated 'Live From New York' Goes Inside the Last 12 Years of 'SNL' History". Splitsider. September 9, 2014. Retrieved August 17, 2017.
  11. ^ Brownfield, Paul (May 27, 2011). "Book review: 'ESPN: Those Guys Have All the Fun'". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved August 17, 2017.
  12. ^ "Movie based on ESPN book 'Those Guys Have All The Fun' is in development". Sporting News. February 17, 2015. Retrieved August 17, 2017.
  13. ^ Terry Eastland, ed. Forbes Media Guide Five Hundred, 1994: A Critical Review of the Media (1994) pp 114-15.

External links[edit]