Journalist Jane Pauley turns 70

She’s hosted CBS Sunday Morning since October 9, 2016

Jane PauleyJane Pauley noted on the August 16, 2020 episode of CBS Sunday Morning the 20th anniversary of her bipolar depression. Her acknowledgment of the condition was unsurprising. She’d written about it, and other facets of her life, in a book called Skywriting. The diagnosis came “out of the blue,” part of the subtitle of the book.

On October 23, 2019, Jane had appeared on CBS This Morning’s special “Stop the Stigma” broadcast to discuss when she was first diagnosed in 2001. Incidentally, she hated the term “stigma.”

Like most people, I first saw Jane on the TODAY show on NBC. In fact, I swear that I watched her appearance in 1976, introduced by then co-anchor Tom Brokaw. After Brokaw left to anchor NBC Nightly News, she was paired with Bryant Gumbel from the beginning of 1982 to the end of 1989.

I regularly watched at least the first hour of the program. She also had other assignments, such as anchoring the Sunday edition of the Nightly News from 1980 to 1982.

NBC launched Dateline on March 31, 1992, Jane co-anchored the newsmagazine from the beginning to 2003 along with Stone Phillips. I viewed it occasionally, depending on the topic. Then I largely lost track of her.

The Eye

“On April 27, 2014, following an appearance during a ‘where are they now’ segment and interview on CBS Sunday Morning, Pauley began contributing to the show as a correspondent and occasional substitute host. Pauley has been a guest host on CBS This Morning and has also filled in for Scott Pelley on the CBS Evening News.”

I’ve been watching Sunday Morning since it first aired on January 28, 1979, with original host Charles Kuralt. When I first got a VCR, it and JEOPARDY! were the first programs I would record; ditto on the DVR. Charles Osgood was the host of the 90-minute program for 22 years, taking over from Kuralt on April 10, 1994.

When I heard Osgood was retiring, I knew there was only one logical replacement. Apparently, I wasn’t alone. “‘We first got to know Jane when we did a story about her on Sunday Morning,’ said Rand Morrison, the show’s executive producer, in a statement.

“‘Our viewers immediately responded by suggesting she belonged on Sunday Morning permanently. And – as is so often the case, they were right. She’s a dedicated, experienced broadcast journalist. But – every bit as important – she’s a delight to work with. A worthy successor – and a perfect fit.'”

The show has been hosted by Jane Pauley since October 9, 2016. Notably, she has interviewed fellow Indianians such as David Letterman and John Mellencamp. She also got an exclusive with Garry Trudeau, the creator of the newspaper comic strip Doonesbury on its 50th anniversary in 2018. It was an easy “get” since they’ve been married since June 14, 1980. They have three children and two grandchildren.

Still, though the topic of that personal piece she did a couple of months ago she’d discussed before, it was amazingly affecting. Jane Pauley turns 70 on October 31, the same birthday as the late John Candy.

Women on the morning news

I didn’t quit watching the TODAY show until Ann Curry, promoted from being the long-time newsreader, was forced out in 2012

Watching CBS News This Morning on Monday, December 4, Norah O’Connell and Gayle King were joined for the week by frequent contributor Bianna Golodryga, who was the chief reporter in the announcement of the suspension, and later firing, of that program’s Charlie Rose in November 2017, and also detailed the firing a week later of NBC’s TODAY show anchor Matt Lauer. Both men subsequently apologized for sexually inappropriate behavior.

The first story on the 4 December morning news was about the Mueller probe into Russian interference in US politics, as reported by Margaret Brennan, who shares the White House beat with chief White House correspondent Major Garrett. Then justice correspondent Paula Reid reported on a guy removed from that investigation.

Chief Congressional Correspondent Nancy Cordes spoke about the tax bill the Senate passed, with reporter Juliana Goldman noting what was necessary to be reconciled between the House and Senate versions. Business analyst Jill Schlesinger broke down the possible impact of the legislation.

Jericka Duncan reported on the possible CVS/Aetna merger. After the local news break, Meg Oliver talked about the return of a runaway teen to her family.

There wasn’t a single male reporter until about 40 minutes in, when Ben Tracy, foreign correspondent, described preparations in case of a war with North Korea. I’m not sure this was just a happy accident.

With the two high-visibility morning-show men brought down by complaints of sexual impropriety, I wonder if CBS News was making a statement about how capable their women on-air talent is.

CNN noticed that It’s all women this week on ‘Today’ and ‘CBS This Morning’.

I had watched The TODAY show on NBC way back in the days of Hugh Downs and Barbara Walters in the late 1960s; to Tom Brokaw and Jane Pauley, the current host of CBS News Sunday Morning; to Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric.

I didn’t quit watching until Ann Curry, promoted from being the long-time newsreader, was forced out in 2012, with what was generally understood to be the acquiescence of Lauer, who, was at his firing, the longest-serving TODAY host ever, with 20 years service. He won’t get paid the rest of the $20 million contract.

Curry, meanwhile, is getting a new gig on PBS. And speaking of PBS, it announced ‘Amanpour’ as the interim replacement for Charlie Rose on its late night schedule, Christiane Amanpour’s existing program on CNN International.

Who might replace Lauer on TODAY’s first two hours? It’s unlikely to be Megyn Kelly, now on the show’s third hour, who came over from FOX News, another network rocked by a sexual harassment scandal against former host Bill O’Reilly, and earlier, the former Fox News chairman, the late Roger Ailes.

It is likely that model of older, established male and younger, generally pretty, female co-host is going to get shaken up on the morning news programs. Of course, some folks will complain about the “feminiazation” of the time slot, which early on was, with the exception of the “weather girl”, “men’s work.”

Anderson Cooper is the answer to everything

I suppose I DO care a bit about this, since I’ve been watching JEOPARDY! with Trebek or original host Art Fleming for more than half my life.

The NBC-TV morning news?/entertainment show Today has only been around for 61 years. The program, envisioned by Sylvester (Pat) Weaver, Sigourney’s dad, has had its controversies with staff, such as when Deborah Norville replaced Jane Pauley as co-anchor in 1990, to disastrous ratings until she herself was replaced by Katie Couric.

In the current drama, Meredith Viera as co-host was replaced by long-time newsreader Ann Curry. The ratings went down, Curry left, after giving a painfully personal farewell. Many blamed her ouster on co-host Matt Lauer, for no good reason I’ve read. So the scuttlebutt now is who will replace Lauer, even though no announcement of his departure has come from the network.

This generated this unscientific Parade magazine readers poll about who, if anyone, should replace Lauer:

Matt Lauer should stay on ‘Today’ 25.59%
Anderson Cooper 44.44% (CNN anchor of multiple shows)
Willie Geist 11.17% (former FOX news anchor now on NBC)
David Gregory 5.23% (host of NBC’s Meet the Press)
Ryan Seacrest 6.85% (host of FOX’s American Idol, and NBC contributor)
Other: 4%

I don’t much care myself – I’ve been watching the CBS Morning Show, when I watch anything at all at that hour – except that a choice of Seacrest would be proof positive that Today should be run by the entertainment division, not the news.

Further speculation is that Lauer would replace Alex Trebek as host of the game show JEOPARDY! when he retires, presumably in a couple of years.

From an Entertainment Weekly poll, equally unscientific:

Ken Jennings 42.32% (won more games on JEOPARDY! than anyone)
Anderson Cooper 25.15%
Other 7.79%
Seth Meyers 6.69% (from Saturday Night Live -SNL Weekend Update)
Tom Bergeron 5.98% (co-host of Dancing With The Stars and a number of other shows)
Andy Richter 3.59% (Conan O’Brien sidekick)
Rachel Maddow 3.34% (host of an MSNBC news program)
Meredith Vieira 3.31% (Who Wants To Be A Millionaire host)
Matt Lauer 2%
(Did any of these people actually show an interest in the job?)

I suppose I DO care a bit about this since I’ve been watching JEOPARDY! with Trebek or original host Art Fleming for more than half my life.

(A sarcastic Ken Levine suggests How Matt Lauer can save his career; some language may offend.)

Anderson Cooper also appears regularly on the CBS News program 60 Minutes and has swum with man-eating alligators.

Former SNL cast member Jimmy Fallon is scheduled to replace Jay Leno as host of the Tonight Show, also originally created by Pat Weaver near 60 years ago. I didn’t watch Johnny Carson much over his 30 years (1962-1992) on the show, or his successor, Leno. I tended to watch talk show host Dick Cavett (1969-1975), and later, the news program Nightline (1980-2005).

To the degree I care at all, I should note that Fallon went to the College of Saint Rose in Albany. NY, about four blocks from my house, and grew up only 40 minutes south of here, in Saugerties, NY. He is bringing the show back to NYC, after four decades in Los Angeles, thanks in part to some tax incentives doled out by New York State. Who will replace Fallon on the show that follows Tonight? Hey, why not Anderson Cooper? Apparently, he can do it all.

L is for Lyle Lovett

I got to see Lyle perform live once, as the headliner at the 1998 Saratoga Folk Festival.


There are very few times that I remember the first time I really became aware of an artist: the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, Santana in the Woodstock film. Such is the case for a guy with funny hair.

I was watching the Today show, the NBC-TV morning show, in 1989. Back when it was only two hours – it’s now four – in the 8:30 a.m. half hour. Bryant Gumbel, the co-host introduces “country” singer Lyle Lovett, at which point he, his band, and background singers performed the first two songs off his third album Lyle Lovett and His Large Band, an instrumental called The Blues Walk, and Here I Am [LISTEN]. Afterward, a perplexed Gumbel said to Lovett, “THAT was country?”

I think the IMDB post on him got it more accurately: “His albums… incorporate elements of country, Western, folk, swing, jazz, bebop, blues, and gospel music.” Soon, I went out and bought that album, which also included the Tammy Wynette classic, Stand By Your Man [LISTEN to this live version], which was later used at the end of the movie The Crying Game.

Subsequently, I purchased his first two albums, the eponymous album, which features God Will [LISTEN – and turn up the volume], and Pontiac.

Clearly, my favorite song from the Joshua Judges Ruth album, appropriately, is Church [LISTEN]. I Love Everybody, which had his then-wife Julia Roberts singing background vocals, features Record Lady [LISTEN]; Lyle and Julia had met on the set of the movie The Player.

Probably my favorite album, though, is The Road to Ensenada, with Don’t Touch My Hat, That’s Right, You’re Not from Texas [LISTEN to this live version] and an old song recorded, by, among others, the Beach Boys, Long Tall Texan [LISTEN to this version, with Randy Newman, on David Letterman’s program].

He released a number of other albums. During a less-prolific period, due to no doubt to being “caught by a bull and rammed into a fence on his uncle’s farm in Klein, Texas” in 2002, he put out Smile, a compilation of his songs from various movie soundtracks. LISTEN to I’m a Soldier in the Army of the Lord from the Robert Duvall movie, The Apostle. In addition to proving the music, he has acted in a number of films as well.

I got to see Lyle perform live once, as the headliner at the 1998 Saratoga Folk Festival; here is a wonderful review.

Lyle Lovett is an eclectic guy; I LIKE that.

ABC Wednesday – Round 9

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