I’ve been watching the new Brian Williams news magazine on NBC, Rock Center, which will be moved to Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. in February.
I’m impressed. So far, it’s real news. It’s serious and delivered by pros.
What’s even better is that Brian Williams as host, doesn’t lay on the hype. He says what he has to and gets out of the way of his correspondents. You have to admire that.
In Monday night’s episode there was the now famous interview with Jerry Sandusky, the accused Penn State predator. Bob Costas was terrific. He asked the tough questions of Sandusky and his attorney without becoming the story. No set-ups, no editorializing, just the questions. Did you molest children?
Are you attracted to young boys? Did you act inappropriately?
And you know what? The answers were revealing enough that viewers could walk away with their own opinions, not those of the interviewer.
Similarly, Kate Snow told a story of the tough immigration crackdown in Alabama and how it is having a deleterious effect on the state’s economy – immigrant workers are fleeing, afraid of prosecution, but they’re needed by farmers and other businesses.
A piece about MRE’s, Meals Ready to Eat, for the military was a little silly, but informative nonetheless. I guess it falls into the “how it’s made” category made so famous (and successful) by the Science Channel.
Finally, a quick segment with famed photographer Annie Leibovitz was actually fun. There’s a contradiction here because Brian Williams was the focus of the story as the subject of an “impromptu” IPhone photo shoot. But it was interesting to see Leibovitz in action and to hear how she goes about her craft.
The roster of correspondents for Rock Center includes a number of grown-ups (Snow, Harry Smith, Meredith Vieira, Natalie Morales, Richard Engel, Ted Koppel, Dr. Nancy Snyderman, Matt Lauer, Anne Curry), not the typical list of pretty people who often populate “news” programs. That, too, is promising, though I’m not so sure about Lauer and Curry, but they may have been added for political purposes.
This show is more 60 Minutes and less Primetime or Dateline. Let’s hope it stays that way.