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Today’s piece is about news.

Let’s start with some from Barbara: “I have two more weeks of inpatient at Sloan. Then I have three weeks off to let my body rest. Then we see what the next steps are for me in this marathon. I am learning lots! One day at a time and my health comes first and my Acting lessons of being present and front burner of my brain are key!… Maybe a book here.”

Lot’s going on up there. Between doctors and nursing popping in on a regular basis, friends showing up almost daily and walking her mile a day in the corridors, she’s keeping busy. Oh, and she and I are making our way through the films of Preston Sturges proving that you can be reduced to hysterical laughter even in a hospital room, which is what the last ten minutes of The Lady Eve did to us.

Back at Irondale we are moving along here as well.

We have a meeting coming up with the Intrepid people about the revival of Galileo that we’ll be doing in the Space Shuttle room incorporating the Enterprise itself into the set  for a two week run next September.

The Murrow/Shirer/CBS pop-up work in progress, is set for December 6. We’ll be working from an outline rather than a script. It’ll include some material from the Murrow play we did in 2011.  It will also potentially include some story telling as well songs from the period of the 40’s, both authentic and newly created ones in the style of the period. Who knows? At its heart I see this as a very lively improvised evening that emerges from the format of a staged reading-stools and music stands. We’ll be taking this first step with the four members of the Galileo company: Joey Collins, Michael-David Gordon, Chantelle Guido Terry Greiss. And we’ll be welcoming the return to Irondale of Steve Cross, long time company member.

This first go round will focus on the period from 1938, when Ed Murrow hired William S Shirer to cover Europe for CBS, to the team’s fracturing in 1947, These were the war years, when the radio listeners’ thirst for serious news and the network’s willingness to give them the serious reporting they craved, enabled Murrow to assemble a team of first rate reporter/journalists, people hired for their intelligence and writing skills, rather than their dulcet toned voices, and who would set a standard for excellence that would be felt at CBS for the next thirty years.

Less than a decade before Murrow took over, CBS news had consisted of Paul White, Bob Trout, H. V Kaltenborn, an assistant, and a secretary, with Murrow and Bill Shirer in Europe struggling to become members of the team and get on the air. (Blake Carter worked under contract outside the CBS news structure.) By the time Murrow assumed control of the entire news division in early 1946, the network’s global news organization rivaled those of the major newspapers and wire services. There were correspondents in Washington and all the major European capitals, as well as in Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. In New York, Murrow presided over platoons of newscasters, commentators, writers, editors, and directors. It was a moment of the triumph of integrity and vision. Until it wasn’t.

The memories of the unraveling are contradictory. What prompted the Murrow/Shirer split? What actually took place and what was said in that final meeting with William Paley? Shirer wrote years later that “He (Paley) angrily informed me that my “usefulness to CBS” was over. Ed said nothing.”  Murrow insisted that he had come to an agreement with Shirer which resolved their differences and would allow him to remain at the network, but in the end, he deferred to Paley saying, “I thought we had it worked out, Bill, but you’re the boss.”

And so ended Shirer’s time at CBS, his career in broadcasting and his friendship with Ed Murrow.

Still working out the arc of the play. But that’s where I am, and what on my mind today.


Jim Niesen


Author Irondale

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