Sunday, November 11, 2007

Burying The Lede ...

I was on the phone with my friend Jeff last night. Actually, I have several friends named Jeff – though not nearly as many friends named Jeff as friends named David or Dave – but I was on the phone with Jeff Zaslow, who used to be an advice columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times and is now back at the Wall Street Journal, from whence he came, though he's kind of on sabbatical to write a book, but he's still filing columns.

(When I worked at the Chicago Tribune, I used to refer to it as the Hotel California of Journalism, but I guess the same can be applied to any newspaper.)

We chatted about various things – an upcoming book project of his, why I was at home on a Saturday night instead of out on a date (Jeff routinely asks after my dating status), you know how conversations go – and as the conversation was winding down, he tossed off, "Oh, if you're around a television set tomorrow night, I'll be on 60 Minutes."


Now, Jeff has been writing for a long, long time, but he's also been written about for a long, long time. When he became one of the advice columnists to take over for Ann Landers when she defected from the Sun-Times to the Tribune, he caused quite a media sensation. He was male. He was young. And he had entered the contest on a lark, in order to get an interesting angle for an article for the Journal. He never thought he'd actually win.

But that's Jeff for you, an overachiever. So it's not at all uncommon for him to be the interviewee. Still, in the news business, 60 Minutes is the brass ring. Being on 60 Minutes is very cool.

After we hung up last night, we e-mailed back and forth. Jeff is a huge Bruce fan, and I wrote, "Just have to point out that Bruce was just on 60 Minutes a couple weeks ago and now you're going to be on 60 Minutes. Your respective spheres are getting closer ..."

To which he replied, in part, "Also, I am turning 60 soon and Bruce is turning 60 soonest, so there’s that connection, too. And the fact that he was on stage in Detroit last week and I was in the audience last week, but also in Detroit. So many coincidences."

Smartass. He'll be 60 in more than a decade. Bruce will be 60 in two years.

Actually, I'll be busy tonight when 60 Minutes airs, but I'll set my VCR. (Yes, I still have one. I'll get around to TiVo just as soon as I get around to satellite television.)

Jeff is part of a piece entitled, "Here Come The Millennials: They are in their late teens to early 20s and have been coddled by their parents to the point of being ill prepared for a demanding workplace. Morley Safer reports on the generation called 'millennials.' "

You can see a clip of Morley setting up the segment here.

Update: After I posted earlier, I wondered if Jeff had been on 60 Minutes before. We've been friends since I was 17, since right after he won the Ann Landers contest (I wrote a letter, he published said letter, someone wrote to him about my letter, his assistant Shelley called me, I ended up meeting Jeff – fast forward 20 years – and here we are) so odds are good that this wasn't his first appearance and that I'm just being forgetful because I'm old and addle-brained. He wrote tonight to thank me for the plug. (Hey, 60 Minutes, if you noticed a spike in viewership tonight of about 10 people, you're welcome!) But if you, like me, missed the show in real time, you can watch Morley's piece here.


Blogger Mercurie said...

Wow, being on 60 Minutes is quite an accomplishment for anyone! Congrats to Jeff!

10:33 AM  
Anonymous Alison said...

Indeed, congrats to Jeff!

And I wish I'd seen this blog entry earlier...I'd have watched the show. Off to scan the CBS website (crap, it IS CBS, isn't it?) and maybe YouTube!

11:07 PM  

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