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Don Hewitt, who created “60 Minutes” and pioneered many of TV’snews reporting methods, has died. He was 86. The cause of death hasnot been announced.
“60 Minutes” was the first TV program to use a newsmagazine formatand has been widely copied. According to industry estimates, CBS’profits from “60 Minutes” are in excess of a billion dollars, themost of any program in TV history.
During his more than 50 years at CBS, Hewitt produced and directedbroadcasts of the last half-century’s major news events, includingthe coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, the installation of Pope JohnXXIII and the first face-to-face debate between presidentialnominees John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon during the 1960campaign.
After his longtime stewardship of “60 Minutes,” Hewitt stepped downas executive producer in June 2004 at age 80 but continued as aconsultant to Jeff Fager and as an executive producer at large forCBS News. It was not an easy transition for the volatile workaholicHewitt, who did not readily relinquish reins of “60 Minutes.”
Hewitt was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in1990. He won eight Emmys, including a Founders Emmy from theInternational Council of the National Academy of Television Arts& Sciences in 1995. He also received two Peabody awards, andtwo awards honoring his lifetime achievements in journalism, fromthe Overseas Press Club and the Committee to Protect Journalists.In 1980, he was given the Broadcaster of the Year Award by theInternational Radio and Television society.
During his tenure at “60 Minutes,” Hewitt was honored with the1987-88 Gold Baton, the highest of the Alfred I. Dupont-ColumbiaUniversity awards in broadcast journalism, cited “for two decadesof reporting that changed the nature of television news.”
He was the producer-director of a number of “CBS News” specials andwas executive producer of the award-winning “CBS Reports: Hunger inAmerica.” He directed two three-network specials, “Conversationswith the President.” As producer-director of “Eyewitness toHistory,” Hewitt covered the travels of Presidents Eisenhower,Kennedy and Nixon.
Hewitt had a leading role in the in “CBS News'” coverage of everyDemocratic and Republican National Convention from 1948 to1980.
Donald S. Hewitt was born December 14, 1922 in New York City. Afterattending NYU for one year, Hewitt dropped out and began hisjournalism career in 1942 as head copyboy for the New York HeraldTribune. During World War II, he served as a correspondent in boththe European and Pacific Theaters. He later became night editor ofthe AP’s Memphis Bureau, serving 1945-46. He went on to stints aseditor of the Pelham Sun and was night telephoto editor for AcmeNews Pictures.
Hewitt began his career with CBS News in 1948 as an associatedirector of “Douglas Edwards with the News,” serving asproducer-director of the broadcast for 14 years. He later becameexecutive producer of the “CBS Evening News with WalterCronkite.”
In 1992, he served as a guest lecturer at the University ofCalifornia, Berkeley graduate School of Journalism. In 1993, Hewittdelivered the first William S. Paley lecture at the Museum ofTelevision & Radio.
Hewitt is the author of “Tell Me a Story: Fifty Year and 60 Minutesin Television,” which chronicles his life as a newsman. He alsowrote the book “Minute by Minute,” released by Random House in1985.
Hewitt won numerous other honors: American Federation of televisionand Radio actors George Heller Lifetime Achievement Award, theSpirit award, as well as a lifetime achievement award from theNational Assn. of Broadcasters.
He also received honorary doctorates from Brandis University andthe American Film Institute, as well as the Algur H. Meadows Awardfor Excellent in the Arts at Southern Methodist University.
He was married three times, since 1979 to Marilyn Berger.
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