And so at 11:35 last night, New York’s all-time great anchor team ceased to exist. “Chuck and Sue” became a test pattern of TV history.
It was a moment inevitable for three months, since the New York Post broke the story that Simmons would not be offered a new contract.
In analyzing the Simmons farewell, praise is given to the station for devoting the closing 15 minutes to everything Sue.
Sprinkled in before commercial breaks, earlier in the newscast, were taped tributes from late night host Jimmy Fallon, who pointed out that his show originates from WNBC’s former home– studio 6B. In front his studio audience, Fallon showed a miniature version of a vintage Chuck and Sue photo displayed on the wall outside the studio.
Jay Leno also had brief, kind words for his NBC Universal colleague 3,000 miles away.
Back live at 30 Rock, the most touching moment of the night went to sports anchor Bruce Beck, who switched his schedule to work the special occasion, saying, “Thirty-two years, 32 roses. I love you dear,” as he handed her the bouquet and they shared a kiss.
Simmons, a longtime Mets fan, was brought to the brink of tears as she was honored on the CitiField scoreboard, thanking her “for an incredible three decades.”
There were clips taking viewers on a respectful ride through her career, including that first night with Scarborough in 1980. Give credit to the station, which included Sue’s infamous moment, the “What the ____ are you doing?” clip.
Before that point, though, a questionable moment for WNBC. The final commercial break ended with a promo for people seeking work at NBC Universal to call or check their website. It was tantamount to a slap across Sue’s face.
But of course, everyone waited for the final minutes, for Scarborough’s closing interaction with his legendary “better half,” and Simmons’ exiting remarks.
Think back to the Mary Tyler Moore finale, where each supporting character got a moment to say goodbye on camera to the star, concluding with Lou (Ed Asner) saying an emotional,”I treasure you people,” leading to the famous group hug.
Scarborough, though, kept his emotion in check. He opened the final video montage saying his legendary partnership with Simmons lasted 32 1/2 years.
“But that’s as close as we’re going to get to forever,” Scarborough told viewers.
Fittingly, the look back ended with how it began, with the last seconds from the birth of Chuck and Sue.
“You did very well tonight,” Scarborough told Simmons in the dusted off clip.
One negative, though, the jam-packed production made it a rushed sendoff.
“It’s been such a privilege and such an honor to work with you all these years,” Scarborough says. “I can’t believe we’re down to the last 30 seconds together here on this broadcast.”
And then there was Sue…
She did all but say what has been common knowledge since March. This was WNBC “suits” decision, not hers.
“This week I was thinking, ‘Somebody has made a mistake,” Simmons says.
She also made it clear in the few remaining seconds that she is not retiring.
“This is it for me here at this station,” Simmons says. “I hope to be employed elsewhere at some point, even if it’s maybe just once a week.”
Scarborough, perhaps feeling one last awkward moment from his co-anchor, all but interrupted Simmons.
“Well, we wish you the best,” Scarborough declared, as he held her arm. Then said, ‘we’ve got to go.”
Just long enough for Sue to blow a kiss to fans and say, “Bye bye.”
Fade to black.