Thursday, September 8, 2016

Peter Mansbridge: Hail And Farewell

I started out as the kid TV critic for The Hamilton Spectator in 1971 and jumped to the Toronto Star in 1980.
So I knew Peter Mansbridge before he actually became Peter Mansbridge.
I mean before he became a TV anchor he was a bright and aspiring TV reporter.
Let's see-- the first CBC TV anchor I interviewed was Earl Cameron.  He wasn't allowed to change a comma on the scripts which were written by others.
And he was forbidden by labor regulations from interviewing anyone at all. He was a news reader and that was that.
And I was in the audience of TV critics in 1977 at the CBC fall launch when Knowlton Nash stood up and said "I've lost my Mr. Clean."
Knowlton was referring to the defection that day of Lloyd Robertson to CTV to co-anchor with Harvey Kirck.
Lloyd --who I still talk to--died CBC anchors a huge favor. He was tired of being just a talking head and when he left the rules changed to make the anchor a true news reporter.
Peter Kent stepped in and later left for NBC before turning up again on Global TV.
And then Nash --then head of CBC news and current affairs--virtually chose himself as Kent's replacement.
And then --28 years ago--it was Mansbridge's turn --he was threatening to jump to the CBS Morning News until Nash graciously stepped aside.
That run of almost three decades will never be surpassed I'm willing to bet.
And I hail Mansbridge as a wily survivor of the CBC--the bureaucratic wranglings behind-the-scenes defeated many another CBC reporter.
Whj will replace Mansbridge?
Well, CBC did have two hot contenders a year ago but both Amanda Lang and Evcan Solomon jumped ship after controversies.
I'm hearing CTV's Kevin Newman is in the mix as is CBC veteran Ian Hanomansing.
Some of the departing notices were downright rude --The Globe And Mail's  TV writer  John Doyle was particularly nasty.
I had some notable run ins with Mansbridge.
I hated CBC's The Journal when it debuted and a phalanx of CBC vice-presidents visited star Managing Editror Ray Timson to have me fired.
He kept them waiting for an hour and then sent the message:"I don't talk to flacks."
But when I retired in 2008 Mansbridge attended my farewell and said some very nice things. Because at heart I always was a CBC supporter.
The biggest mistake in those years was the change of times --CBC TV News debuted in 1952 at 11 p.m. because that was the earliest film from Washington and Ottawa could be air freighted to the Toronto headquarters.
When CBC moved it to 10 p.m. it disrupted the TV viewing habits of millions and ratings suffered,
Also, at 10 p.m. all the big hourlong dramas on U.S. TV were on --it was far too competitive an hour for CBC News to survive.
For years Mansbridge had to share his hour with the likes of Pam Wallin and Hana Gartner who told me he was hardly a collegial co-host.
In recent years he's done it all with startling professionalism.
Ratings have shrunk as the number of TV channels expanded.
But I have to say I never ever heard Mansbridge flub a line or name.
Who will replace him?Ian Hanomansin
Mansbridge says he'll stick around for other chores as Nash remained for years afterward.
Mansbridge has survived a lot --he has been the face of The National for 28 years during some very trying times.
When I started covering CBC in 1970 there were 10 channels and no cable competitors.
So hail and farewell!

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