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Mike Wallace, Veteran Newsmen, Dies At 93
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Mike Wallace, Veteran Newsmen, Dies at 93

The news of Mike Wallace’s death conjured a flood of memories, flashbacks to various newscasts of historic events and familiar faces. It brought me back to perceptions I’d once had of the powerful Big Three: CBS, ABC and NBC News. So much had changed since the early 1980’s, when I was young and worked in the industry.

Last summer, when I brought my daughter to the CBS News bureau, we were there just to hang out with an old friend and co-worker I’d known from ABC News. It was sweet and sentimental, but a little sad.

I couldn’t help but think of all the famous newscasters who’d walked through those same doors. Many now had grey hair, which stunned me. Had the years passed so fast?

Mike Wallace was an iconic figure whom we’d all looked up to, and the news of his death on Easter Sunday seemed like a confirmation that an era had truly passed. Yes, many years had somehow gotten away.

It was Wallace and his talented team of co-hosts at 60 Minutes, who inspired young journalists like myself to strive for the ‘real story behind the story.’ And a few years later, it was also a particular episode of 60 Minutes that prompted me to do something I never thought was possible: produce my very first video.

It was around 1991, when I entered a local competition, sponsored by the city of Bridgeport in Connecticut. It was launched by a riled up mayor, who wanted to refute a rather unflattering picture of the ‘Park City’ which was painted during an episode of 60 Minutes. Mayor Mary Moran felt that the story left a tattered image of the city, and would cast a dim outlook on its future.

So, within less than a month, Mayor Moran sounded the bell, a loud beckoning for all local video producers to rally in defense of our town and produce a more balanced (favorable) view of it. Never mind, all of the other slaps in the face that the city received, or the blunt remarks of our famous neighbor, the late Paul Newman, who’d called it “the armpit of Connecticut.” Never mind all that. We knew that Bridgeport was full of hidden treasures, charming features that were largely overlooked, and now we had an obligation to savage her reputation. So, like a soldier, fired up and fueled by a sense of honor, I overcame my shyness, grabbed my camera and script, and off I went to defend my city.

The project was called “Bridgeport Reels Back” and out of about 100 contestants, my little video somehow squeaked into the realm of the top ten. This qualified me (and just barely) to be invited to our city’s own version of the Academy Awards. I received the award for Video no. 10, and when they presented it on the huge screen of a downtown auditorium, I felt an elation I’d never known before. All the nervous, awkward interviews, and painful hours with an uncooperative editor, were suddenly worth it. I was elated to have received that award, and although I never expected it, the contest would leave its mark on me.

Today, in addition to the books I write, I’m producing promotional videos, commercials, book trailers, and now, preparing to produce my first film. It’s based on the screenplay, A Detour to Mexico, which I co-authored with the late Mrs. Sammy Davis, Jr. And, of all things, I’ve recently launched my own video contests to begin the process of finding actors and artists for the film.

So, when I heard the news about Mike Wallace’s death, I couldn’t help but remember how a specific event -and in this case, a specific episode of 60 Minutes - would actually influence my life . . . even thirty years later.


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