Friday, February 29

Hear Here

I've written before about Roger Grimsby, the legendary co-anchor of WABC's Eyewitness News for almost two decades. I even quoted the sign-off he and Bill Beutel gave for so many years as the #1 anchor team in New York—which made them, de facto, #1 in America.

"Hoping your news is good news, I'm Roger Grimsby."

"And I'm Bill Beutel, good luck and be well."

But I've never quoted Roger's famous opening line. This is from

"Grimsby was known for beginning his broadcasts with the phrase 'Good evening, I'm Roger Grimsby, here now the news' and ending them with the phrase 'Hoping your news is good news, I'm Roger Grimsby.'"

So there you have it, right?

Not so fast! I got to wondering—a quarter-century after I worked with Roger and Bill—was Roger saying, "Here, now, the news"—as in, the news is coming at you here and now? Or was he saying, "Hear now the news"—as in listen up? I had never paid attention to what was written on the scripts, so I just didn't know.

I asked my WABC boss, former News Director Cliff Abromats, and he didn't know--he never bothered to look (and, admittedly, it wasn’t exactly a pressing problem for a guy who was administering a $27 million news budget and ministering to Big Apple egos).

So I dashed off an email to former WABC producer Alan Weiss (now the owner of a successful New York production company)—and he didn't know. He said it was just something Roger ad-libbed every night, and he had never seen it written down. But Alan was kind enough to track down longtime Managing Editor Phil Tucker, the man who polished the prose on just about every Eyewitness News story for years. Phil recalled having seen it once on a script Roger had written—ONCE!

"Hear now the news."

Take that, Wikipedia!

By the way, when Chevy Chase started doing his mock newscast on the very first Saturday Night Live, his greeting, "Good evening, I'm Chevy Chase and you're not " was said to be a subtle tribute to (and poke at) Roger Grimsby.

And now you know the rest of the story. Wait. Sorry. That's someone else's line. My bad.


wbhist said...

The rest of the story, vis-a-vis the Weekend Update bits: After Jane Curtin took over the Update anchor desk following Chevy's departure from "SNL" as a regular, she adopted Grimsby's "Hear now the news" open and recited it verbatim. On one faux-newscast in 1978, Jane even closed with Grimsby's "Hoping your news is good news."

And Chevy didn't just skewer Grimsby in terms of his anchor persona. He also lampooned a few other New York news anchors as well, including WCBS's Jim Jensen - notably Jensen's penchant for making reporters - er, correspondents look like Grade A fools if they didn't have a ready answer to any one of his questions. Anyone remember some of the "live remotes" with Laraine Newman in the Chase-era Updates?

And that's not counting Update's spoofing other elements of "Eyewitness News" (the 1975-78 era news set in the 1977-78 season, Rose Ann Scamardella's name, and so on) in the 1975-80 period. There was also the matter WPIX's news fakeries of late 1968 on such events as the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia (as apparently spoofed in Chevy's faux "phoned-in field reports" where he was always shown crouched with his side towards the camera, holding his nose, towards the end of the "report").

tyingmyshoes said...

WOW! wbhist, whoever you are, you're spot on! You reminded me of things I had forgotten (if I ever knew). Just goes to show how EWN permeated American culture