Tag Archives: 60 Minutes

Ode to Andy: CBS,”60 Minutes” commentator Andy Rooney was my broadcast hero

I was saddened by the news early this morning when CBS alerted the world that Andy Rooney died Friday night.

I actually got word of his death on my Blackberry (yes, I still have one) as an alert from the Washington Post. That probably would have rated a sentimental jab from Rooney about the demise of the teletype and cable wire as the main bearer of bad news, but I digress.

The 92-year-old was one of my broadcast heroes throughout my career.

It was tough going to want to be a curmudgeon when you’re  just in your twenties, which I suppose explains my career arc, or lack of one.  You spend your life in punk purgatory before anyone lets you curmudge for a living.

But CBS seemed to have all the broadcast oddballs.  Kuralt, Osgood, Rooney. They were the guys allowed to be a little more than a minute-and-a-half would allow. They had personality and more.  They weren’t the hard-ass stand up guys with the Capitol sticking out of their head. Oh,they were good reporters, too. But Kuralt was folksy. Osgood was witty and bow-tied. Rooney was, well you know what he was.  Eyebrowed. None of those guys  were the prettiest things on TV. But they were the writers on TV, the literary stars who could turn a phrase when there were no pictures. 

Rooney was the most daring.  More often than not it was just him staring into the camera like an aging bullfighter, or  doing a show-and tell, holding up an example of his  ironic subject and point of his ire. One commentary that made an impression was where he held up a Sunday paper and started cleaning it as if it were a fish.  I never quite looked at another Sunday paper the same way again.

Not many places let you do the kind of thing Rooney did. And there was a time I could tell the TV guys made him throw more pictures in. That’s when I first thought maybe Old Eyebrows was  failing. But he still had the  look and the sound. He could still pose the rhetorical “nagging question” better than anyone.  When you’re a professional curmudgeon, fine wine is for sissies. Curmudgeons age like an old boot.

When everyone said goodbye a month ago, I resisted joining in on the tributes back then, knowing he was just reaching his  curmudgeonly prime, hoping that all the retirement talk was premature, and that, indeed, he’d be back for more. They always say that, and  then it never happens.

My regret is that I never got to meet him, though I suspect it’s better that way.  I would probably have done something non-pre-curmudgeon-like  like ask  for an autograph.  And we all know how much he liked that. 

The closest I came to him was working briefly with his daughter Emily in Boston.  Now there’s a tough cookie.

My condolences to the family.  

So long Andy. And don’t worry,  after you get past the gates, there are few autograph seekers in the after-life.

Conan O’Brien soars with 60 Minutes; Leno falls flat in Washington

Conan got a lob toss from “60 Minutes” yesterday and hit it out of the park.

But a  review in the TV trades said Conan’s first public media foray backfired a la Tiger.

I don’t think so.

If Tiger had employed a strategy to give up control to the even bigger control freaks at “60 Minutes,” he  certainly would be further along the comeback trail instead of still being seen as a villain.

By contrast, Conan gave an honest,heart-felt interview that humanized him, made him sympathetic, and even more likeable. Everyone already thinks Conan got screwed. A “60 Minutes” score just makes it official.

No NBC or Leno perspective in the Steve Kroft story. So it’s totally one-sided which only aids in being pro-Conan. But Conan does have a point. The bean counters had their way and made their decision. It’s all the subsequent talk about the “Tonight Show” losing money that is pure corporate B.S. Conan’s honesty on this subject  was compelling. So was his take on hisCatholicism:   “If I experience any joy in life, I will go to hell.”

Nice touch also to include his wife, Liza.The “stand by your man” thing is something we haven’t seen in the Conan vs. Jay war. Tiger could have used some of that.

So overall, how can this be anything but a positive for Conan? Even singing “I Will Survive” was funny and to the point.

And the beard is such an improvement, a nice distraction from his frontal red-head wave. I see more man-crushes in COB’s future, especially now that he will be on cable.

As for Leno at the White House Correspondents Dinner: He got titters, but no guffaws. No one was LMAOROFL, in other words. In fact, Leno looked like he could have used cue cards. He was reading his jokes from a script and kept bobbing his head down. It just wasn’t his best.  He did have a few good lines, like when he mentioned how diverse the Obama cabinet was with representatives from every ward in Chicago. But many lines fell flat. Really flat.

The president, on the other hand, was pumped up. He was funny. And performed much better than Leno. I liked the line where he described Sarah Palin’s objection to Twitter and Facebook as “socialized media.” But there were other gems. An item on the web said some Daily Show writers contributed. Doesn’t matter. The prez was funnier than Leno.

Overall, a better weekend for Conan.

(A point of disclosure: Like Conan and his “friend,” NBC President Jeff ZuckerConan, I have a similar connection. Conan and I are Lampoon brothers, but the last time I saw him  he was in a massive jester outfit and a senior at Harvard. I have photos. He also was too much in character to acknowledge me. I have also taken him to task in the past about some of his tasteless takes on Asian Americans).