Apr 24

Before Oprah, Ellen and all the others, there was Edward R. Murrow

I’m in the midst of watching a fascinating DVD compilation of Edward R. Murrow’s landmark televisionEdwardmurrow
series ‘Person to person.’

Broadcast on CBS between 1953 and ’59, the series featured one-on-one interviews between the uber journalist become talk show host and celebrities from all walks of life. There’s John F. Kennedy, speaking from his Boston apartment just one month after marrying Jacqueline Bouvier in 1953. Another segment shows Norman Rockwell discussing his painting techniques from his Stockbridge, Massachusetts, art studio. A third follows Eleanor Roosevelt around her Manhattan apartment in 1954.

There’s also Liberace, Marilyn Monroe, Sammy Davis, Jr., and so many other legends.

Murrow’s ‘technique’ was to sit in his New York studio and, via newly-developed technology, speak to the celebrities directly from their homes.

Person to person is a fascinating snapshot into a long gone America. It was a simpler time and Murrow served up simpler questions. There’s no antagonism, no hints of scandal or intrigue, and no discussion of anything other than blue skies and happy times. That said, the interviews are anything but bland.

Murrow and his guests are direct, to the point and, dare I say it, humble. The watchwords of Person to person are civility, urbanity and compassion; three words that are nearly absent from any contemporary talk show.

It may have been superficial in content, but Person to person reflects Murrow’s impeccable image of truth and honesty. Compared to the Jerry Springer’s, Howard Stern’s and others on our airwaves today, Edward R. Murrow is a breath of fresh air (despite his omnipresent cigarette).

Apr 10

Hate to say it, but I told you so

Loyal Repman fans who have followed this blog from the get go will recall an ongoing battle with TedKatiecbs
‘Ludacris’ Birkhahn and others over the fate of Katie Couric.

I said she was out of her depth, a lightweight trying to fill a chair once occupied by Murrow, Cronkite and Rather, who wouldn’t last. Ludacris and his ilk argued to the contrary, vowing that Katie would be a mega star and that Repman was being sexist and would eat his words. Not!

It’s good to be right. Katie’s gone and I predicted it.

And, here’s my next Katie prediction. She’ll be taking on Oprah and Ellen in the late afternoon talk show wars very, very soon. And, you know what? She’ll do very, very well. Katie’s fluff. And, the late afternoon talk show set loves fluff.

So, look for Ms. Couric to do less hard news and more soft stories close to home, such as: ‘how to get that special guy to ask you to the senior prom,’ ‘wedding vows: do’s and don’ts’ and ‘weight loss tips of the stars.’ I may not watch, but a good percentage of America will.