'60 Minutes' to Dedicate Feb. 22 Broadcast to Bob Simon

"Bob never took himself too seriously. He never became self-important. He always wanted to be a regular guy," says "60 Minutes" executive producer Jeff Fager.
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Bob Simon

60 Minutes will air a final piece from correspondent Bob Simon this Sunday, Feb. 15. Simon, whose career at CBS News spanned 47 years, was killed Feb. 11 in a car crash on Manhattan's West Side Highway. The piece, about the deadly Ebola virus and the quest for a cure, was already scheduled to air Sunday, said 60 Minutes executive producer Jeff Fager.

Steve Kroft will likely offer a tribute to Simon at the end of Sunday's broadcast. But next week, on Feb. 22, 60 Minutes will dedicate the entire hour to a retrospective of Simon's career at CBS News.

Simon, 73, was an intrepid foreign correspondent. He spent years overseas covering every major conflict of the half-century beginning with Vietnam. And he was particularly known for his coverage of Israel and Palestine. 

“We're in shock,” says Fager.

The staff gathered in the 60 Minutes office this morning to share stories about Simon. “I think it was very therapeutic. The good thing about telling stories about Bob is that you end up laughing.”

Read more '60 Minutes' Bob Simon Dies in Car Crash

The TV news business, continues Fager, “is full of people who lose sight of their place in the world and become too self-important. Bob never took himself too seriously. He never became self-important. He always wanted to be a regular guy, just one of the reporters out covering the story. And I think that's what a lot of us loved about him.”

Fager has been flooded with calls and emails from shocked friends and admirers since news of Simon's sudden death broke Wednesday night.

“Bob wouldn't have expected this huge outpouring. He would have been surprised and he would have been very happy.”

Those who reached out include the producers of Homeland, who got to know Simon during Simon's recent profile of Mandy Patinkin. Simon was an insightful and playful interviewer and a master of the razor-sharp rejoinder. During his interview with Patinkin he asked: “Do you always talk this fast?”

During a 2014 piece about a $1.3 billion radio telescope in Northern Chile that allows astronomers to explore previously unknown parts of the universe, the scientists told Simon that they found sugar and alcohol in space. “And Bob said, 'Alcohol?'” recalls Fager. “And the woman said, 'Yes, alcohol.' And Bob said, 'This is good news.'

“He was spontaneous and he knew how to listen,” continues Fager. One of the things that makes 60 Minutes unique is that our correspondents are listening. They're not working off of notes, they're listening. And if the standard for that is Mike Wallace, Bob really lived up to it.”

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