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A behind-the-scenes, anecdotal look at 60 Minutes, which Hewitt conceived 17 years ago and has produced ever since. Hewitt had been with CBS for 20 years, directing the old Douglas Edwards newscasts and the CBS Evening News before he decided, against the conventional wisdom of the industry, that the time was right for brief, investigatory documentaries wrapped up in an hour-long package and delivered by some of TV-news' heaviest hitters such as Mike Wallace, Harry Reasoner, Morley Safer, Dan Rather, Ed Bradley, and Diane Sawyer Hewitt convincingly argues that no other network could field such an adept and popular group of reporters on one program. That's about it for depth. The book itself is a hodgepodge of anecdotes, photographs (150 of them), snippets of some of the more unusual conversational exchanges, and Hewitt's relating of some of the spicier or awkward outtakes in the program's history. Some of these involve Hewitt's own dirty tricks undertaken to ensure CBS's primacy in getting a story aired ahead of the other networks. One such, when Hewitt posed as a flight attendant over an airline intercom to ground an NBC plane long enough for the CBS plane to get a jump on its flight home, makes one wonder about the news media's criticism of politicans' dirty tricks. Another time, Hewitt, at a news site, discovered an unattended NBC News van with the keys in the ignition. Hopping in, Hewitt drove the van to a distant area and hid it in a cornfield. Funny guy. Safer once said that ""a crook doesn't believe he's made it as a crook until he's been on 60 Minutes."" Hewitt obviously believes that a book hasn't made it as a book until it's been written about his program. But the show is a lot more gripping than Hewitt's choppy, gossipy little book. . . and deserves better treatment from its creator.

Pub Date: Nov. 29th, 1985
Publisher: Random House