Monday, October 19, 2020

The Best of Times


Bob Shanks died last week.  88.  He helped develop "Good Morning America."  It was a game changer in morning television.  The show, produced by ABC's entertainment division in those early years, had actors for anchors.  It also established an outstanding stable of contributors.  By the way, GMA was based on a local show, called "The Morning Exchange" in Cleveland.

Shanks, in working with anchor David Hartman, proved you don't need to be a rocket scientist to ask questions in the morning.  You do need curiosity, and more inmportantly, warmth.  GMA left NBC in the dust.

As smart as Bob Shanks was at ABC, he created "The Morning Program" at CBS, and in my book, it was one of the worst shows in the history of broadcast television.  CBS got tired of getting its brains beat in at 7 am.  Shanks came up with a show headlined by Roland Smith, Mariette Hartley, Mark McEwen and Bob Saget.  Calling it "unwatchable" would be a compliment.  As someone who was always a fan of the "CBS Morning News," I cringed ever time "The Morning Program" aired.  It lasted nine months and CBS eventually went back to a more traditional presentation-- one handled by the news division.  It didn't work, either, but at least the people involved could walk out the door with their heads held high every morning.

At the end of the day, Bob Shanks' contribution to television will have far more plusses than minuses.  He made the business better.

And, I have to note the passing of Bert Quint.  The former CBS News correspondent died over the weekend.  In the Cronkite days, the CBS Evening News always began with the list of correspondents and their locations.  Quint was always in some war torn section of southeast Asia, bringing the horror of the Vietnam War in to our homes.  The man had guts.  Bert Quint was 90.