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Posts Tagged ‘Don Hewitt’

‘Why can’t you put Marilyn Monroe in the same broadcast as an interview with the president’

PelleyKerryOn Tuesday “60 Minutes” celebrated its 45th birthday. The show debuted on CBS Tuesday, Sept. 24, 1968. Its success over the years brought on many imitators and even led Rupert Murdoch to once inquire about buying the show and bringing it to FOX.

This Sunday, the dean of the TV newsmagazines begins season number 46 on CBS. “60 Minutes” EP Jeff Fager who is also the chairman of CBS News, explains show creator Don Hewitt‘s vision for the show like this: “Why can’t you put Marilyn Monroe in the same broadcast as an interview with the president.” (Watch after the jump)

This Sunday, the mix of stories includes Scott Pelley‘s interview with Secretary of State John Kerry; Steve Kroft’s report on schizophrenia, the sometimes violent illness that the Washington Navy Yard shooter showed symptoms of; and Norah O’Donnell‘s profile of Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, including details of his new book “Killing Jesus.”

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Will a TV Show About the News be More Compelling Than the Real Thing?

I admire Aaron Sorkin, but he gives me a headache. By the time his characters finish a monologue, I’m ready for a nap.

Sorkin’s latest work, “The Newsroom,” which debuts Sunday on HBO, is no exception. In the pilot’s opening scene, set at a J-school panel, cable newsman Will McAvoy delivers a breathless tirade that, while eloquent, lasts longer than most network sitcoms.

In an homage to Paddy Chayefsky’s “Network,” McAvoy, played by Jeff Daniels, explodes when the moderator goads him into answering a student question about why America is the greatest country on earth. It’s not, he says, and here’s why.

Citing reams of statistics that someone in his line of work could not possibly know – another Sorkin trademark — McAvoy ends on a hopeful note. The speech will change the direction of his career from a bland ‘Jay Leno’ to a take-no-prisoners anchor of the Old School, like Murrow, Cronkite and Brinkley.

Images of those very men are in “Newsroom’s” opening montage, along with those of Dan Rather and legendary producer Don Hewitt. They are Sorkin’s heroes, he says. To that end, the underlying message of “Newsroom” is that it’s not too late to create a civil, intelligent newscast they would have been proud of.

News junkies will not be able to resist this show, despite the fact that some of the plotlines are ridiculous and that Sorkin writes like he’s getting paid by the word. Programs about the TV news business are rare. The last good one, Sorkin’s “Sports Night,” ended 12 years ago.

Sorkin reportedly based “Sports Night” on Keith Olbermann, but he’s denied that Olbermann was his muse for McAvoy.

Please. McAvoy is wicked smart, totally self-involved, highly temperamental and loathed by his staff. “I’m not the easiest guy to work for,” he tells his boss, Charlie Skinner (Sam Waterston), news division president at fictional network ACN. Skinner has a short fuse and drinks a lot.

It pains me to say this, but Waterston, one of my favorite actors, is a tad old for the role. He punches out his lines like every breath will be his last. Daniels, on the other hand, is in his element,

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What do Supreme Court Justices, Popes and Andy Rooney Have In Common?

Rooney_6.18.jpgAndy Rooney will work until he drops dead. Deal with it.

“How long am I going to work? How long am I going to live? That’s the question,” says the irascible Rooney, who turns 92 in January. “I will work until I drop, or until I lose my head. Until somebody tells me different, I’m not going to quit.”

Rooney, headed into his 34th season as “60 Minutes’” resident curmudgeon, joined CBS in 1949 (that’s not a typo) as a writer for “Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts” (ditto.) Until a few years ago, he wrote his weekly commentaries on a manual typewriter from his World War II days (see above.)

Seven days a week, he goes to his office, which, in a manner befitting a true contrarian, is physically apart from those of the “60 Minutes” gang. When the “60″ staff set up digs across the street from CBS News headquarters, Rooney stayed put.

Given the recent public flameout of 89-year-old Helen Thomas, some say Rooney should leave the party before he suffers the same fate.

Rooney’s musings “too often are the discomforting ramblings of an old man…,” writes TV critic Ed Bark. “Hanging on like this is unseemly. Rooney has made his mark and then some. He should give someone else a chance to end ’60 Minutes’ on their own terms.”

Not gonna happen, says Rooney, whose wry, two-minute sermonettes cover topics ranging from the amount of coffee in coffee cans to the demise of the “funny papers” (newspaper comic strips) to who is Lady Gaga.

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Gwen Ifill Accepts First Amendment Award

ifill_6-15.jpgPBS “Washington Week” moderator and “NewsHour” correspondent Gwen Ifill was honored Monday by Quinnipiac University with the 17th Fred Friendly First Amendment Award at a luncheon in New York.

Former recipients of the award include Dan Rather, Lesley Stahl, Bill Moyers, Ted Koppel, Tom Brokaw, Jim Lehrer, Don Hewitt, Peter Jennings, Mike Wallace, and Tim Russert.

“I scanned the list of previous recipients and my insecure side kicked in,” reflected Ifill in her remarks. “Such company. Here I was a black girl from Queens walking among giants. And then I thought, if George Clooney could play Fred Friendly in the movies, then why couldn’t I get this award?”

CBS’ Andy Rooney and NBC’s Hoda Kotb were among the attendees.

More after the jump.

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Attorney Ron Konecky Passes Away

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Konecky and wife, Isobel, at a 2007 event

Ron Konecky, the New York attorney who represented some of the biggest names in television news, passed away this morning TVNewser has learned. He was 80.

Konecky’s client list included Walter Cronkite, Morley Safer, Stone Phillips, Don Hewitt, Roone Arledge, Barbara Walters, Alec Baldwin, Harry Smith, Frank Gifford, Rick Kaplan, Budd Schulberg, and ABC’s Roger Goodman. His son-in-law Bob Wheelock, a former ABC News Senior Producer, said that Konecky had cut back some after a November surgery, but “never officially retired” and was still caring for clients’ affairs and estates in recent weeks.

He is survived by wife, Tony-nominated producer and performer Isobel Robins-Konecky, his daughter, ABC News producer Jennifer Konecky, and his son-in-law as well as two grandsons.

In addition to his work with television news legends, Konecky was heavily involved in the New York theater scene, where he and his wife were on the boards of The American Theatre Wing and The New Dramatists. Wheelock tells us that his father-in-law was “as proud of the theater work as anything.”

Andy Rooney On Turning 91 and ‘The Single Luckiest Thing That Ever Happened To Me’

Andy Rooney — who turns 91 today — is in demand these days. Rooney, a Colgate University alum, will be honored at a February 9 alumni “Tribute and Toast” in New York City. Expected attendees include fellow ‘Gate grads such as 60 Minutes EP Jeff Fager, Rooney’s son, ABC’s Brian Rooney, ABC’s Bob Woodruff, CNN’s Gloria Borger, and MSNBC’s Howard Fineman.

Rooney also has granted a rare interview to USA Today. Excerpts:

• On whether he foresees retiring from 60 Minutes: “I suppose the time may come…I think I’ll know when I can’t do this anymore. I think I’d quit before anyone tells me to.”

• His thoughts on the late Walter Cronkite and Don Hewitt: “They’re missed.”

• He says that getting a reporting job during World War II with the U.S. military newspaper Stars and Stripes was “the single luckiest thing that ever happened to me.”

• On how he’ll celebrate his birthday today — “a 91st birthday isn’t something you celebrate. It’s something you mourn.” — Rooney, a widower, says he’ll probably go out to dinner with the woman in his life: Beryl Pfizer who was a Today show producer in the 1950s.

In this video, Rooney reads portions of his most recent book, Andy Rooney: 60 Years of Wisdom and Wit, out last November.

Safer, Sawyer, Gibson, O’Reilly Turn Out to Remember Don Hewitt

Hewitt_10.19.jpgThis morning the Rose Hall at the Time Warner Center was packed with friends and colleagues of legendary CBS Newsman Don Hewitt, who died in August.

In attendance, Hewitt’s “60 Minutes” correspondent corps including Morley Safer who spoke at the service. Andy Rooney sat in the third row, just across the aisle from Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly. A few seats from Rooney sat “Good Morning America” anchor Diane Sawyer, who was “60′s” first female correspondent. And one of the “60 Minutes’” originals, Mike Wallace, now 91 and in a wheelchair, attended this celebration of life for his former boss and friend.

Also in attendance ABC’s Charles Gibson, and former CBS News producers Jon Klein, now president of CNN/U.S. and Rome Hartman, now EP of BBC World News America.

“60 Minutes” executive producer Jeff Fager, who took over for Hewitt in 2004, opened and closed the event which included clips from the CBS News special, “Tell Me a Story,” a retrospective of Hewitt’s life named for the guiding principle of his work.

Calling Hewitt, “The writer’s best friend,” Morley Safer said his boss of more than 30 years, ran either hot or cold as he paced the office on West 57th St. “Lukewarm was not our Don.”

“Don was utterly incapable of small talk,” said Safer. “Don liked to boast he could cut the Lord’s prayer in half and make it better.”

CBS Corp. CEO Les Moonves said he was humbled when he first met Hewitt, a giant at CBS News. “’60 Minutes’ made us the Tiffany network,” said Moonves. The actor Alan Alda, a personal friend said, “Don was a fountain of ideas and a torrent of hard work.”

Hewitt’s son-in-law Bill Cassara, who worked with Hewitt on “60 Minutes” and his great-nephew Robert Fishman also spoke, as did Joan Ganz Cooney the founder of the Children’s Television Workshop and a friend of Don and his wife Marilyn Berger Hewitt, a former White House correspondent for NBC News.

Many of those who remembered Hewitt talked of his beloved Mecox Bay. It was here, at his home in Bridgehampton, that Hewitt died from complications of pancreatic cancer August 19.

Updates from Hewitt Memorial

TVNewser is tweeting updates today from the memorial tribute to legendary CBS News producer Don Hewitt. After the jump, you can read our feed.

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CBS News Plans Don Hewitt Tribute

Hewitt_10.8.jpgCBS News has announced it is planning a tribute to legendary CBS News producer and creator of “60 Minutes” Don Hewitt who died in August.

The event will be held Monday, Oct. 19 at New York’s Frederick P. Rose Hall in the Time Warner Center.

Katie Couric Named 2009 Neuharth Award Winner

Couric Katie.jpgKatie Couric has been named the 2009 recipient of the Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in the Media.

The award is named for the founder of USA Today and the Freedom Forum. It will be presented on October 8 at the University of South Dakota, Neuharth’s alma mater. Couric is scheduled to speak at the event.

Past Neuharth award recipients include Couric’s CBS colleague Bob Schieffer (2006) and the late CBS newsmen Don Hewitt (2004) and Walter Cronkite (1989). Among the other previous winners: Tom Brokaw (1992), Larry King (1993), and Judy Woodruff (1995).

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