Friday, December 01, 2006

And So It Is: Linda Ellerbee Signs On

And so it is: We're interviewing Linda Ellerbee in her office on Thursday (December 7) at 11:15.

From the Museum of Broadcast Communications:
    Linda Ellerbee, respected and outspoken broadcast journalist, has functioned as a network news correspondent, anchor, writer, producer, and is currently president of her own production company, Lucky Duck Productions. Gaining fame in the 1970s and 1980s for her stints as an NBC News Washington correspondent, Weekend co-anchor, reporter, and co-anchor of NBC News Overnight, Linda Ellerbee became a symbol for a different type of reporter: literate, funny, irreverent, and never condescending.

    Her television production company, Lucky Duck Productions, has a reputation as a supplier of outstanding children's programming. Founded with partner Rolfe Tessem in 1987 the company has won three CableAces, two Peabodys, a duPont, and an Emmy. Each week Ellerbee writes and hosts Nick News for children and young people.

Upon Fred's passing, Ms. Ellerbee told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    "His legacy will be that he made millions of children feel safe and comforted in a time when so much of the bombardment of the media is overwhelming. For everything that we all agree is bad about television and children, he was the good of it. Nothing is as bad as he was good."

At The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences 2003 tribute to Mister Rogers, she said:

    He spoke from the heart to the heart. He gave kids comfort. He gave kids ideas and knowledge. He gave them self-confidence. He gave them permission to just be kids. And he never ever talked down to them.

    He understood that kids were human beings, only younger and shorter. It’s amazing how rare that attitude is in children’s television. However, 12 years ago, when we began "Nick News," even though our audience would be older than that of Fred Rogers, I was determined to do the one thing Fred Rogers did best: I would show respect for kids.

    Why? Because they deserve it, and because it works. And sometimes I would say to myself, I wonder if Mister Rogers has seen our show? Am I doing him proud?

    And then one day, we both attended a conference at the White House on children’s television. Most people there were thrilled to be seated at the same table with the President of the United States. I thought the President of the United States ought to be thrilled to be seated at the same table with Mister Rogers. I know I was, and I introduced myself to Mister Rogers and I asked him what advice he had for "Nick News."

    He said, "Just keep it on the air. That’s the hard part."

She recently conceded that:

    She treasures a note she received from Fred Rogers, who wrote that hers was the best news show not only for kids, but also for adults. In the Mister Rogers mold, she believes "we've got to get to know one another."

To be honest with you, I'm not sure what my exact line of questioning will be. It's just so obvious that she is fighting the good fight, and walking the walk, and advocating -- whether wittingly or not -- for that which is "deep and simple." On a certain level, I'd like to float the premise, and see where the conversation goes. But then, this is a woman who anchored NBC News. I'll do some homework.

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