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20th Anniversary Of News Closeup

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“PIX11 NEWS CLOSEUP” will mark its 20th year on the air with its 970th broadcast on Sunday, October 28th.  The recipient of numerous awards, including three Emmy Awards, “PIX11 NEWS CLOSEUP” has a loyal following of viewers who either watch or record the program Sundays at 6 a.m. An anniversary retrospective will also air this Sunday night at 10:30 p.m. Mayor Michael Bloomberg will be a special guest.

“We’re on early, but we’re worth watching,” says PIX11 Senior Correspondent Marvin Scott, who has hosted the program since its inception.

Produced by veteran journalist Ellyn Marks, “PIX11 NEWS CLOSEUP” remains current, dealing with newsmakers and issues that range from abuse of the elderly, to stem cell research, to gun control, the economy and of course politics.  Political discussion has dominated many of the broadcasts over the past 20 years.  Guests who have appeared on the program comprise a virtual who’s who of political and community leaders from the New York, New Jersey area. New York Governors Hugh Carey, Mario Cuomo, George Pataki, and David Paterson have been guests, as have the Governors of New Jersey. New York City Mayors Ed Koch, David Dinkins, Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg appeared on the program.

“PIX11 NEWS CLOSEUP’s” most frequent guests have been Congressmen Charlie Rangel and Peter King.  Senators Chuck Schumer, Kirsten Gillibrand, Frank Lautenberg, and Bob Menendez have also found the program to be a good forum for discussion. Nixon White House Counsel John Dean, whose testimony in the Watergate scandal, helped bring down the Nixon presidency, appeared on the program.  JFK confidante Theodore Sorensen provided an intimate portrait of the Kennedy years in the White House.

Disgraced former Governor Eliot Spitzer sat down with Marvin for an exclusive and revealing interview.  Kristen Davis, the madam who provided Spitzer with prostitutes appeared on a subsequent broadcast.

Timothy Cardinal Dolan did his first extensive local interview after his return from the Vatican.  Nobel Peace Prize recipient Elie Wiesel made a special appearance this past year and read an emotional passage from his acclaimed book, “Night,” about his horror in a Nazi concentration camp.

Scott is particularly proud of the four “PIX Christmas In Iraq” broadcasts that were done in Iraq in 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2009.  Scott, reporter Jill Nicolini and cameraman Dave Kimmel spent the holiday with local soldiers far from home and presented them with gifts and reunited them with families via satellite. The broadcasts received special recognition from the New York State Associated Press Broadcasters and an Emmy nomination.

Non-politicians have also joined the program.  Comedic icon Jerry Lewis provided two candid and insightful interviews, one of which won a 2006 Emmy award for “Outstanding Entertainment Programming.”  Tom Cruise was featured in another program in which Ellyn Marks did an exclusive interview with the actor about his controversial detoxification program to help ailing Ground Zero workers. And Larry King reversed chairs to allow Marvin to fire off the questions for an enlightening interview.

There have been a number of heartwarming and emotional programs.  Each Thanksgiving, Marvin Scott and Ellyn Marks put together a special program entitled “Giving Thanks.” In 1994, Vito de Leo talked about his love of family and how much more meaningful his life was after he narrowly escaped the 1993 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.  Seven years later he was among those who died on 9/11. 12 year old Stephanie Collado reflected on how her faith in God helped her survive a heart transplant in 1998. The donor heart failed her eight years later when Stephanie died.  Scott delivered the eulogy and was a pallbearer at her funeral.

“PIX 11 NEWS CLOSEUP” has often traveled beyond the studio.  Some programs have been outstanding documentaries or reports from the scene of major news developments, such as the crash of John F. Kennedy Jr.’s plane off Hyannis Port in 1999.  A special “PIX11 NEWS CLOSEUP” program on the tragedy received an Emmy nomination and recognition from the Associated Press.  Another program entitled “Understanding Whitewater” won an Emmy in 1996 for “Outstanding Political Programming.”  As host, Scott received an Emmy for the same broadcast for “Outstanding on Camera Achievement.”  A documentary, “The Men of the Intrepid Come Home,” was a moving tribute to the former crewmembers of the U.S.S. Intrepid who were celebrating their 50th reunion in 1993.

The program won a “National Headliners Award,” two Associated Press awards, an Emmy nomination and the Chicago Museum of Broadcasting has placed it in its permanent documentary collection.  Another Emmy nomination was received for Scott’s coverage of the assassination and funeral of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. “Tears for Rabin” was recorded in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the Palestinian West Bank.

In a unique segment on the 40th anniversary of the JFK assassination, Scott added a voice to the historic film of the President’s murder. He used an excerpt from a 1965 radio interview he did with Abraham Zapruder and matched it to the 8 mm film the Dallas dress manufacturer had taken of the assassination, providing a narrative to the 26 second horrifying clip.  Scott donated the original tape of the interview to the Sixth Floor Museum and Dealy Plaza. That, along with the “NEWS11 NEWS CLOSEUP” program are now part of the JFK assassination archives in Dallas.

“One of my favorite programs was the one in which we debunked the myth of the Amityville Horror story,” says Scott.  A lawyer for the man convicted of murdering his entire family in the Amityville house admitted helping to concoct the haunted house story with the family that subsequently moved into the house. “The story got better with each bottle of wine,” he proclaimed on the program. Scott recalls one of his most difficult programs was the one in which he interviewed a Neo-Nazi who denied the Holocaust ever happened.   It was in stark contrast to the interview with Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel.

In accepting the 2006 Emmy awards for the Jerry Lewis interview, Scott described “PIX11 NEWS CLOSEUP” as “The little engine that could, a program nestled away in the early hours of Sunday that has found a loyal audience that appreciates the caliber of guests and issues we tackle each week. It’s worth getting up for,” he quipped.

Scott and Marks are proud of the recognition and awards the program has received from their peers, and are equally grateful for the positive feedback they’ve received from viewers over the past 20 years. Many have said they regularly record the program, which is now posted weekly at www.wpix.com/newscloseup

The 20th anniversary retrospective, with Mayor Michael Bloomberg as a special guest, airs this Sunday at 6 a.m. and again at 10:30, following the PIX11 News at Ten.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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