I'm sure it didn't come as a surprise to anybody to hear of Walter Cronkite's death...the man was 92 after all, and in "declining health"...but it's still a shock when someone who was such a huge part of your life for so long dies.
We actually watched Huntley and Brinkley for the nightly news, but when there was anything "big" going on in the country, you wanted Uncle Walter to hold your hand and guide you through it. He personified television journalism for more than a generation as anchor and managing editor of the CBS Evening News.
Who can forget the unflappable newsman losing his composure briefly when he had to announce to the country that President Kennedy had died.
Or the little-kid excitement as he reported on the moonlanding and subsequent walk on the moon by Neil Armstrong.
What power it must have been to know that the President of the United States (Johnson) feels that "If we've lost Cronkite, we've lost middle America," when thinking about the country's ability to win the war in Viet Nam.
There was a time when he was the most trusted man in America. But he's been off the screen for a long time now and with 24 hour news, the way that our media news is delivered has changed significantly. I often long for the days when you knew that if Uncle Walter said it was so, you believed it. There are no others of his ilk left any more.
Rest in peace, Walter. Nobody will ever fill your shoes.
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We went to a show in Sacramento tonight. We carpooled with my colleague, Jeff. I sat behind the reviewer for The Sacramento Bee, and at intermission talked with two other critics.
On the way home. Jeff and I were talking about reviewing in general. Jeff is always giving me a hard time for continuing the review the same tired old musicals and tonight he talked about the "Andrew Lloyd Webber people" who will go and see ALW musical over and over again.
I've always thought this was a very strange attitude from a man who eats, drinks and lives Shakespeare, who attends every Shakespeare festival within a 100 mile radius. I finally pointed that out to him. I also pointed out that I actually like the tired old musicals and don't really like Shakespeare. He had to admit that I had a point.
As I pointed out, everybody has his or her own tastes. The last show I reviewed was a perfect example. The Bee reviewer praised it to the skies, I gave it a lukewarm review. We both said that this wasn't the show for everyone's taste -- and I guess we proved our point by his being so enthusiastic about it and me being so "blah" about it.
A critic is just someone who gets paid to write down his or her thoughts about a production. I don't think my opinion is any better than the average theatre-goer; I just get paid to talk about it. On some shows, I may be able to pull out comparisons to previous productions I've seen, but bottom line is that it's really just my opinion.
It's flattering to know that people go to my reviews and read them to decide whether or not to go and see a show, but I know that I don't trust the reviews of some respected big city newspaper critics because invariably our tastes differ. I'd rather make up my own mind on a production than trust a critic with whom I know I disagree most of the time.
(I remember the years when critics routinely panned Lamplighter shows, for example, which I obviously thought were excellent.)But I guess I'm glad that there are people who do rely on the opinion of a critic -- or I would be out of a job...and not get those free tickets to see all the shows any more! (So let's just keep my opinion about the job a secret, shall we?)