This column has learned from a highly knowledgeable source that KABC-TV Channel 7 “Eyewitness News” anchor Lisa McRee was married in Beverly Hills Presbyterian Church recently. And also that:
* Her marriage is “breaking the hearts of many men here in the Southland.”
* The bridegroom and “man of her dreams” was Donald Granger.
* The “joyous” occasion was attended by the McRee and Granger families, and having her “Eyewitness News” family there, too, also meant a lot to the bride.
* McRee wore a long white dress, carried a white bouquet and looked “absolutely stunning,” but regrets not having a tan.
* “Eyewitness News” wishes the newlyweds “a long and prosperous future.”
* McRee’s ring is a real rock.
* Weathercaster Johnny Mountain put on reporter Laura Diaz’s shawl at the wedding reception, and McRee doesn’t know why.
The source of this information? None other than “Eyewitness News” itself, which last Monday scooped other stations by allotting 90 seconds of its 5 p.m. edition--a sizable chunk in TV terms--for exciting news coverage of McRee’s nuptials.
“This past weekend, we had the honor of attending a very special wedding,” began her co-anchor, Harold Greene. There was footage of the ceremony and the ritual kiss between bride and groom.
“What a lip lock there,” declared a wowed Greene, who narrated the story. “So much joy,” he added later.
At that point, McRee gave Greene her hand at the anchor desk so that he could show viewers “what the lovely Mrs. Granger is wearing today.” The camera moved in. “Absolutely beautiful,” Greene said about the ring.
The emotion was gushing; the words were gushing. “I gotta tell you,” said McRee, touching the hands of Greene and Mountain, who were flanking her, “having you guys there . . . you have been so patient throughout all the planning and everything. And to have all the people that you love from different parts of your life and your family and my new family, which is great, all in the same room, and it was just . . . it was so fine.”
Mountain concluded the segment by congratulating McRee and adding, “Ohhh, that’s great.” Then he faced the camera and did the weather.
This was no precedent. Some years ago, KCBS-TV Channel 2 covered the wedding of its sportscaster, Jim Hill. And last year, KNBC-TV Channel 4 turned anchor Paul Moyer’s recovery from heart surgery into a story, as it did a coming-out party for a novel written by his co-anchor, Kelly Lange. In fact, anchors are always big news to their stations, except when they fire them or lose them to other stations.
When you think about it, why shouldn’t Channel 7 cover the wedding of one of its anchors? Like all local news, it increasingly lives to report the activities of celebrities, and McRee is as much a celebrity to Channel 7 viewers as any other TV star. As such, her private life and the way she looks are of great interest not only to her public but even to newspapers. No wonder, then, that a 1994 fashion report in The Times found McRee “incredibly chic,” adding about her: “Great clothes, great hair, great makeup.”
The issue, then, is not whether the McRees of anchordom are celebrities but why.
The answer is that their stations want them to be. Of course, a certain amount of fame comes with the camera. It’s automatic. Well beyond that, however, stations for years have determined that the best way to promote their highly profitable news programs was to promote their news personalities--inflate them, swirl mythic, favorable auras around them and advertise them to the extent that they become magnetic stars of such renown that viewers will tune in newscasts primarily because of them.
Just to glimpse their faces. Just to hear them proclaim “team coverage” or “This just in!” Just to bask in their orchestrated camaraderie on the set. Thus, it’s no accident that anchor salaries dwarf the pay of everyone else associated with newscasts.
But these are not just any celebrities, as station strategy goes, they’re your celebrities, not only a loving, caring, schmoozing family unto themselves, but also part of your extended family, comfy and familiar folks whom you’d invite into your home, and who would share with you the most significant occasions of their lives. Why, even their weddings.
It’s called celebrating the messenger.
When does the message--the news that matters--enter this equation? It rarely does. But . . .
Great clothes, great hair, great makeup.
He May Be Ba-a-a-ack: John Lippman, who was fired from KCBS-TV Channel 2 in 1993 after a tabloid reign as news director that incited open rebellion in his newsroom over his tactics and strident management style, may be hired to run KLCS-TV Channel 58, the public TV station operated by the Los Angeles Unified School District.
The Board of Education is scheduled to vote today on Supt. Sid Thompson’s recommendation that Lippman succeed interim KLCS manager Bill Rivera, who replaced Pat Marshall.
Lippman is one of three men named finalists for the job after a nationwide search that reportedly drew 130 applicants. The other finalists are Tom Mossman, who ran the station from 1979 to 1987 and is now communications director for the Catholic archdiocese, and Alan Baker, former producer for “A Current Affair,” “Hard Copy,” “Entertainment Tonight” and “Solid Gold.”
Lippman was not solid gold at Channel 2, where the volatility and staff alienation in his newsroom became almost legendary. But his product did approximate “A Current Affair,” “Hard Copy” and “Entertainment Tonight.” He lasted less than a year in a tornadic stint that saw the station’s newscasts dive to their trashiest level ever while regularly using trickery to induce viewers to tune in.