Wednesday, December 06, 2006

"Bobby" a 10+

Have just returned from seeing "Bobby" ... and it's been a shattering experience.

As I indicated in the previous note, in which I told of the awfulness of that night's breaking news in our New York ABC net studio and control room ... and how that great staff handled the event, being the only net operation that was still on the air from LA ... whereas the other two had already goodnighted their stations, and thus releasing their nets till morning, it being next-to-impossible to bring them back till then.

Anyway, seeing the film "Bobby" today, was devastating ... and at times I found it impossible to stop the tears and even an embarrassing sob. The younger people around me probably thought they were sitting near an antique moron.

The cast, heavily dominated by some of Hollywood's most powerful stars, none of them glamorized, was perfect .... and I won't bother to list them all.

"Bobby"'s producers, writers and director used a mix of studio sequences (to show the lives and personalities of some of the LA people at the Ambassador Hotel) skillfully mixing in TV, newsreel and Signal Corps/Vietnam footage ... so that it was unnecessary to have an actor portray Robert F. Kennedy, except in a few shots - including some of the devastating scenes in the Ambassador kitchen - in which you see only "his" legs and torso and one or two of the hotel arrival shots, in which we see only the back of "his" head.

At the end of the film, over shots of Vietnam, Washington and RFK's visits with kids, old people, street/campaign crowds, etc. ... we hear the senator make a powerful, powerful speech (or broadcast ?), in which he speaks of the need to really handle our social ills and shortcomings ... and at this point, even the laughing idiots, sitting near me in the (almost filled)theater, fell silent.

I urge you to see this film.

You'll thank me.

Gary Franklin

PS: The LA Times, in its "Weekend Calendar", capsule reviews of new and running films, today ran "Bobby", not with its "Critics' Choices" ... and not even under the "Also Recommended" ... but, instead, under "Also in Theaters", tries to demolish this powerful film (" ... writer-director Emilio Estevez has exceeded his reach .... a film drenched in sincerity and oozing with nostalgia that ..... falls flat dramatically ....") - but this guy (or gal) apparently loves so much of the other new garbage, churned out by the Hollywood mills, and so beloved by the juvenile morons, busy groping each other in the theater darknesses.

Friday, December 01, 2006


With all the writings and broadcast comments these days, relating to the new film, "BOBBY" - a semi-documentary on the assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy in 1968 ... one radio newsman's memories brought back:

I was working as a writer/producer for ABC Radio (network), in New York, at the time ... and we'd been handling the California primary that evening, June 5th, 1968. Bobby Kennedy had won and had made his joyful victory comments at the Ambassador, and was now on his way out, by way of the hotel kitchen.

We all know what happened next - Sirhan Sirhan shooting Kennedy and five others with a .22 revolver,

Back in New York, two of the three networks (remember, this is long before all the cable outlets) - NBC and CBS - had signed off, so that all their local stations were now disconnected from the their nets. We, at ABC, were still in the process of doing the same, and we were running the long end-credit crawl.

Suddenly, there was loud commotion on our direct line to LA and shouted word from our news reporter on the scene .... "Some shots have been fired .... people have been hit !"

Our producer (I'm not sure, but I think it was Bob Siegenthaler) reacted quickly, to prevent our giving up the net ... and yelled at the engineers to keep running the credit crawl ... slow it down ... re-run it, if necessary !

Now word came through our line to LA, that Senator Kennedy had been one of those shot, and seemed to be in serious condition.

To make a long story short, our producer kept up the net connections for the rest of the night .... using slides, file film and audio reports .... and we were thus the only TV broadcaster to provide reports from LA, for the rest of the night ... since it was, back then, next to impossible to open a TV network, requiring all sorts of approval from top executives, not to mention the technical problems ... with most engineers having gone home and to sleep.

One of the saddest moments in our broadcast lives ... but also, deep down, a feeling of pride over what we had achieved as broadcast journalists.

Long, long ago ......

Gary Franklin