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Posts Tagged ‘Leon Harris’

Former CNN Anchor’s Near Death Experience: ‘If I’m going to die, I’m going to die’

Leon Harris, the main anchor at Washington DC ABC affiliate WJLA, will return to work Monday after a month-long illness. On August 1, Harris, who spent 20 years as an anchor at CNN in Atlanta, was rushed to the hospital and diagnosed with necrotizing pancreatitis, a severe inflammation of the pancreas. Harris was hospitalized for two weeks. His lungs filled with fluid. His stomach was so swollen he looked 8 months pregnant. His heart stopped twice. From WJLA:

By the following Thursday, Aug. 8, he asked if he was going to die. And the next day, Harris says he simply lost the will to live and resigned himself to death. “If I’m going to die, I’m going to die,” he recalls thinking. But he also remembers thinking about his wife Dawn and not wanting to succumb. “If I go to Hell, it’s not because I quit,” he says.

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TVNewsers Starling and Alexander Tie the Knot

“Today” show correspondent Peter Alexander and WJLA main anchor Alison Starling are just about a week into their new life as husband and wife. Alexander and Starling married last Saturday on the roof of the Newseum in Washington, DC.

The couple met while they were both reporters in Seattle, he at KCPQ (FOX) and she at KIRO (CBS).

They remained friends after leaving the city, started dating and got engaged in Paris last August. AllDAY reports the DC couple is delaying the honeymoon until after the election.

(Photo: Greg Gibson Photography)

City of Light the Setting for Alexander, Starling Engagement

On Monday, we told you about the engagement of NBC News correspondent Lee Cowan and NBC News associate producer Molly Palmer. Well this morning, more engagement news. NBC News New York-based correspondent Peter Alexander got engaged in Paris Saturday night to Alison Starling, the 5 & 11pm co-anchor (alongside former CNN anchor Leon Harris) at WJLA in Washington, DC.

We’re told Alexander proposed on the lawn beneath the Eiffel Tower and took this photo immediately after. The couple first met in Seattle years ago when Alexander was a reporter for KCPQ-TV (FOX) and Starling was a reporter and anchor at KIRO-TV (CBS).

CNNers Past and Present Celebrate Network’s 30th Anniversary

Sat Party 4.jpgA large crowd of former and current CNNers gathered at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Saturday night to celebrate the network’s thirtieth birthday.

The bash — an unofficial gathering organized by former CNN producer Elissa Free — drew over three hundred people and was emceed by former CNN anchor Bernard Shaw.

“It was a celebration of what we had built,” former CNN correspondent Kelli Arena tells TVNewser. Arena, who started her career at CNN in 1984, said that joining the then-four-year-old network “was a labor of love… There was an energy and an innocence about the place. We brought live to the air things that people had never seen live on the air before.”

CNN founder Ted Turner addressed the group, telling attendees he was proud of what staffers have accomplished. Former CNN president Tom Johnson also spoke.

Current CNNers in attendance included anchor Wolf Blitzer, News Standards and Practices EVP Rick Davis, Political Director Sam Feist, and correspondent Jeanne Meserve.

Former CNNers in the house included Cissy Baker, Ralph Begleiter, Charles Bierbauer, Mike Boettcher, Tony Collings, Roger Cossack, Patty Davis, Bill Dorman, Rusty Dornin, Bob Franken, David French, Frances Hardin, Leon Harris, Sandy Kenyon, Jamie McIntyre, Brooks Jackson, Kathleen Koch, Eileen O’Connor, Chris Plante, Frank Sesno, Mark Shields, Linda Taira, Mary Alice Williams, and Judy Woodruff.

“It was a lot of reminiscing about the little network that could,” Arena said. “There was no griping, no discussion about the current CNN — that’s not why people were there. People were there to celebrate what we had accomplished. It was like a family reunion.”

More photos, after the jump…

(photo by Richard Kolko)

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Leon Harris on Becoming a ‘Real News Grown-Up’

Leon Harris.jpgFormer CNN anchor Leon Harris is profiled by the Washington Post‘s Paul Farhi.

Harris tells of a rough childhood due to trying family circumstances, and of his big break at CNN, where he started as a researcher and editor.

After some twenty years at the network, the Iraq War began. Farhi writes that Harris became CNN’s “cut-in king”. Harris instead wanted the chance to report from Iraq, but says he was turned down. “It was clear to me that they didn’t think I was as good as I thought I could be,” he tells Farhi. “I think they thought I was a good guy, a team player, but I wasn’t a real news grown-up. If I didn’t leave, I knew I wouldn’t feel like a grown-up.”

Harris joined Washington, DC ABC affiliate WJLA-TV, where Farhi says he is “its signature face”. Since signing Harris, “WJLA has moved from third in the news ratings to a solid second…”

Asked about the future of television news, Harris is pessimistic. “Now it’s blurred with entertainment. Who’s CNN’s number one news figure? He’s a guy who hosted ‘The Mole’. We all do the same five stories over and over. Six minutes on a story? Forget it. Rwanda could happen today, and we wouldn’t cover it.”