Sunday, March 19, 2006

The End of an Era

Bill Beutel died yesterday. For those who may be too young to remember, Beutel and Roger Grimsby on Eyewitness News in NYC in the '70s were the FIRST of the ad libbing, wry news anchors. They redefined local news, not just with personality but by involving their teams with world events (Beutel was "embedded" in Vietnam, unheard of for a local reporter at that time.) Many have tried to imitate them since. Few have succeeded.

I attribute much of my thirst for news and current events to afternoons watching Beutel and Grimsby with my father. Grimsby was the wiseass, Beutel the serious voice of reason who often couldn't help but break-up at his partner's irreverent comments. Of course, those of you who DO know about that era also know that Tex Antoine was their weatherman...unceremoniously fired after making an inappropriate comment following news of a local rape. I remember sitting there in shock as his weather report began, "If rape is inevitable, relax and enjoy it!" Tex and Grimsby were often delivering weather and news while drunk, and I suspect this was the case on that day. The camera immediately shot to Beutel, who delivered a swift apology, and that was the end of Tex. Grimsby was fired in 1986 and died of lung cancer in 1995.

Beutel, always the class act of the bunch, lasted in news for 35 years. (One of my cousins (on my dad's side...the side we never see or hear from) was married to his son at one point in time. Don't know if she still is.)

**Side note: I watched George Clooney's "Good Night, and Good Luck" this weekend. What an amazing film. See it if you haven't already. It's on DVD now.**