'60 Minutes' Producer on Bob Simon: He Was "Like a Superstar"
Jeff Fager pays tribute to his colleague, who died last week from injuries suffered in a car accident.
A version of this story first appeared in the Feb. 27 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Bob Simon (1941-2015)
The 60 minutes newsman, 73, who died Feb. 11 from injuries suffered in a car accident on the West Side Highway in Manhattan, was revered at CBS News, where his career spanned 47 years. He also was revered in Israel, where he lived off and on for decades and served as CBS' principal correspondent from 1987-2007.
60 Minutes executive producer Jeff Fager recalls a trip to the country with Simon to cover the funeral of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated in 1995. It was an emotional assignment for Simon, who was close to Rabin. (Simon and his wife, Francoise, often played tennis with Rabin and his wife. Simon would intentionally lose, because it would get him invited back to Rabin's house for Scotch-drinking storytelling, which Simon found highly useful.)
"But what I remember most was that Bob was like a superstar. Everyone knew him," Fager tells THR. "And everyone wanted to talk to him: politicians, military officers. I was surprised at how significant his celebrity was in Israel. Bob loved the country. He felt strongly about the stories he covered there. And some of them upset people. But mostly he was a hero in Israel."