CBS News gets 'Person'-al again
In the 1950s, CBS News legend Edward R. Murrow visited prominent people without him leaving his studio or them leaving their homes, thanks to a huge monitor.
The network gives its classic interview series "Person to Person" an update starting Wednesday, Feb. 8. "CBS This Morning" co-anchor Charlie Rose and "60 Minutes" correspondent Lara Logan succeed -- since no one could replace -- Murrow in questioning entertainers, politicians and others with headline names.
In charge of the revival are veteran CBS News producer Susan Zirinsky and one of her "48 Hours Mystery" colleagues, Judy Tygard. While keeping interviewees' identities secret (at least at this writing), Zirinsky says, "It's very exciting to bring back a franchise that was iconic for CBS News. It's part of a growth and a spirit here that we're both really proud of."
Tygard adds, "I've never had so much fun in my life doing research on a show, watching Edward R. Murrow choking on his cigarette smoke while interviewing Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe and Sammy Davis Jr. The people who were on that show, their names still resonate 50 years later, so we needed some firepower."
The producers believe their new hosts help provide it. Logan "has this passion that jumps off the screen," Zirinsky notes. "You see it in her war coverage, but she's done amazing profiles on '60 Minutes,' like of (singer) Michael Buble. She delights in a wide canvas in her reporting."
Rose has interviewed major names for many years on his weeknight PBS program, and Tygard calls him "a natural" for "Person to Person" duty. "He is an expert at the art of conversation, and Lara brings all of her sensibilities from her reporting in the field. It's a really great combination because they complement each other."
A logical, nostalgic component of "Person to Person" will be a segment recalling Murrow's original programs. Zirinsky believes it underscores the ongoing mission to be "about the person who's being interviewed and the intimacy that's established. We're trying to stay true to the simplicity of what Murrow began."