Regular guy.

Today in the Free Press, the obligatory local angle: Peter Jennings visited Detroit often, was regular guy. See page whatever.

It was an amusing read, if for no other reason than the quotes are funny-dumb, and the facts presented contradict the story’s central premise. His last trip to the D was a few months after the 9/11 attacks, and what the local TV type recalls him reporting was “the further you got from New York, the more different the impact was.” No! Get OUT!

“In a Free Press interview in 1996, he waxed rhapsodic about visiting the Eastern Market during a weeklong stay in 1975. ‘I was very moved by the whole experience,’ he said then. ‘I have a fond recollection of that time.'”

The Eastern Market, I remind you, is a produce market. Useful, yes. Interesting, certainly. But moving? Huh. Never had that feeling there.

Finally, “Jennings made a point of calling people at Channel 7 by name and treated interns and tech people with the same noblesse oblige he bestowed on station brass, Drutz said. That is, as long as he had a Fresca in his hand. Seems Jennings enjoyed the diet drink that has been eclipsed in many markets by other brands. Drutz, in charge of keeping Jennings happy, panicked until she came across a small cache of the drink at a Kroger’s not far from WXYZ’s Southfield location.”

Misuse of fancy Frenchy phrase, check. And the just-plain-folks regular guy requires an obscure soft drink that sends staffers scrambling to find it? I’m amazed he didn’t want the brown M&Ms picked out.

So far no one has mentioned my favorite Peter Jennings memory: The time he was doing a live phone interview from Beirut, and the operator came on to tell him the time was up. Without missing a beat, he negotiated an extension of time — in French! — then returned to the interview, cool as the noblesse oblige-y Francophone Canadian he was.

Or “cool as Fresca,” as we say here.

A friend of mine worked on Captiva Island when Michael Mann shot parts of “Manhunter” there. Mann required Tab, which sent junior-level staffers into a DefCon IV state of emergency, rounding it up. You ask me, the mark of true regular guydom is a man who can say, “Sure, whatever,” after being told his drink of choice is not available and will a Diet Pepsi do.


I don’t trust John Roberts, but I enjoyed this column by Richard Cohen, about some of his friends.

Posted at 10:05 am in Uncategorized |

15 responses to “Regular guy.”

  1. joodyb said on August 9, 2005 at 10:45 am

    what is the masculine form of the noun diva? someone determined (in print or otherwise, sometime in the past week) it to be DIVO. per usual i am sure i am tragically late to this dance.

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  2. Nance said on August 9, 2005 at 10:51 am

    Are we not men? We are Devo.

    On second thought, I guess it’s possible Jennings was just a regular guy and didn’t give a rat’s gluteus if he had Fresca or not, but the local station manager prided himself on his ability to cater to the man’s every wish. This only proves that middle management is the truly lethal layer.

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  3. mary said on August 9, 2005 at 12:16 pm

    One of the less rewarding jobs I’ve had in life was managing a gourmet food and wine shop in a posh neighborhood of Los Angeles. We very often had to special order hard to find, but decidedly unspecial, items for celebrities. Tab was a frequent request, as was Fresca, actually. My favorite, though was ordering a case of Olde English malt liquor for Mr. T. If he drove five miles down the road, every liquor store would stock it, but in this neighborhood, it had to be special ordered.

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  4. deb said on August 9, 2005 at 12:45 pm

    how come all the terms for someone who’s “difficult” are femimine in nature? diva. prima donna. bitch. what the hell is up with that? they’re punchy and fun to say, too, whereas calling a guy the male equivalent takes too damn many syllables — i.e., “obsequious prick.” it just isn’t fair.

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  5. Dave said on August 9, 2005 at 1:04 pm

    Yes, have to second that and wonder if he really needed the Fresca or not. Now, had he been a movie actor, it would be easier for the masses to believe.

    Elmore Leonard’s GET SHORTY, has a scene in it where the Danny DeVito actor character, orders an elaborte meal in a street cafe, then leaves before it even arrives at the table. His ex-wife had predicted he would do this because she said that actors couldn’t help themselves, they had to order something the restaurant didn’t normally make or carry.

    Devito’s character was supposedly a version of Dustin Hoffman, who Leonard had met and disliked.

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  6. Nance said on August 9, 2005 at 1:36 pm

    A friend of mine is an editor in L.A., and books long hours on deadline with showbiz folks. He’s told many stories about these pampered darlings, but my favorite was about Gladys Knight and her husband Bubba, a Pip. Not only were they willing to eat whatever was offered/available/closest/cheapest/easiest to get, they were truly gracious about it. They thanked whoever did the ordering and fetching, complimented the food and generally acted like well-bred people with fine manners, which I assume they are.

    A few years ago, Gladys did a commercial for Aunt Jemima, and the usual black suspects gave her crap about it. I guess they never worked with her.

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  7. Nance said on August 9, 2005 at 1:38 pm

    Wikipedia tells me Bubba is Gladys’ brother. I stand corrected.

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  8. mary said on August 9, 2005 at 2:05 pm

    Lots of celebrities are extremely nice normal people. Two years ago the assistant coach of my son’s soccer team was Tim Roth, and he’s a nice down to earth normal guy. I’ve met Jamie Leigh Curtis at the pediatrician’s office, and she’s great. Once she was in the office with her mother, Janet Leigh, and she seemed awfully normal as well. No entourage of nannies or assitants. Just a mother and grandmother tending to the kids.

    The worst person I’ve dealt with was the wife of a older TV/movie star. Sort of a beloved, always bemused type, if you know what I mean. His wife has nothing to do all day so she orders things on the phone, completely unattainable, off the wall things, and threatens to get people fired if they can’t find them and deliver them immediately.

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  9. John said on August 9, 2005 at 2:18 pm

    Jamie Leigh Curtis is still smoking hot!

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  10. joodyb said on August 9, 2005 at 3:34 pm

    having read the above, i know many a diva/o who has not achieved celebrity status, for one my sister, who has made a cottage industry of locating the rare decontaminated food products (milk-less cheese etc.) that fit her ever-devolving restricted diet. i don’t think she possesses any tastebuds, so it’s not even a matter of satiety. she’s obsessed with food but cannot eat. i’m sure it’s some kind of transference. she doesn’t have anything else to do, so i supposed it’s ok. still.

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  11. Nance said on August 9, 2005 at 5:25 pm

    Funny, Mary. That same friend tells me one of the worst shrews he had to deal with was the wife of a big ol’ beloved star. Of course, the star was gay and she was a beard of decades’ standing, so maybe over time that made her a bit testy. It would me.

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  12. brian stouder said on August 9, 2005 at 11:44 pm

    Speaking of stars – why don’t you trust John Roberts?

    The guy looks like Tom Hanks, for pete’s sake! I was prepared to join my leftist friends and denounce our detestable dunce of a president – and then he goes and nominates a Harvard educated moderate – and a guy from a northern state (and with an Indiana connection) to boot.

    Never underestimate W

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  13. jcburns said on August 9, 2005 at 11:58 pm

    Really nice anchors drink Tab ™.

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  14. Dorothy said on August 10, 2005 at 8:08 am

    A four-year old niece told me this past weekend that I looked like the mom in Freaky Friday. How did she KNOW that I took a picture of Jamie Lee Curtis with me to the hairdressers and said “Cut my hair this short, please.” I was tickled that Jordy recognized the haircut. When I was much younger, and before I wore glasses, I heard “You look like Liza Minelli” all the time.

    The only anchor I can chime in about is Tom Brokaw. He sent condolences about my dad, and my family firmly believes he is a class act, hands down.

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  15. kirk said on August 10, 2005 at 9:10 am

    a previous football coach at ohio state had a wife who, besides remotely resembling naomi judd, sometimes acted like her. she was known as a royal pain in the ass around columbus and took part in the highly tacky practice of buying clothes on approval, wearing them to dinner or a soiree, and then returning them.

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