Remembering Peter Jennings

Sep 26, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Not one of the 2,000 or so who attended last week’s memorial service for Peter Jennings is likely to forget it, ever.

It served perfectly as a reflection of his life and the ways in which he touched the lives of so many others, from colleagues and competitors to the public, both powerful and powerless, and, of course, his loves.

The power brokers of Disney and ABC, electronic journalism and of New York City queued up on the sidewalk outside Carnegie Hall, where they attracted knots of lookie-loos.

The result, said ABC News alumnus Jeff Gralnick, now a consultant for NBC News, was “a perfect New York moment. A cop walks up to four ‘barrier leaners’ and wants to know if they are there ‘for the show. If not, youse gotta move on, please.'”

Mr. Gralnick spoke for many when he said: “‘The show.’ It was one. And the right one.”

Those who studied the loops of photos that played over the stage-adorned only by the architecture, the tools of the speakers and the musicians and two exuberant sprays of flowers that seemed fresh from a cottage garden-saw a man who seemed forever tanned, windblown and madly in love with his life.

Those invited to reflect on Mr. Jennings as they knew him did so intimately and modestly. There was no emotional one-upmanship as had happened at the memorial after the December 2002 death of Roone Arledge, the ABC Sports and News president who made Mr. Jennings and so many others stars.

Those who listened to the words and the music that filled Carnegie Hall-from Yo-Yo Ma doing Bach, Wynton Marsalis and Clark Terry doing jazz, Natalie MacMaster blending Celtic and bluegrass influences and Alison Krauss breaking hearts-were reminded how eclectic Mr. Jennings’ passions were. People laughed. They cried. They marveled at the articulacy of his son Christopher and daughter Elizabeth. They envied the expression on their father’s face in photos of the family as it played together. They grieved, still and silent, for Mr. Jennings’ widow Kayce as Ms. Krauss sang “Slumber My Darling.”

Then they gratefully pulled themselves together while the Gates of Praise Choir sang “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.”

They walked back into the sunshine resolved to lead a life that would warrant them even a piece of so fond a farewell and musing about possible figurative meanings of the words printed on the back of the program:

“I hate dirty hockey.” Peter Jennings, Aug. 7, 2005

Once again, he left us with much to think of.

Emmy Ensembles

And now, turning on a dime, as only morning news shows usually do, it’s time to make note of the most eye-catching fashions at last week’s News and Documentary Emmy Awards.

Embellished net dresses were everywhere. We’ll choose to interpret the ubiquity as a sign that this generally unflattering trend is all but over.

Jean Rather, wife of special honoree Dan Rather, showed how to make a classic fashion statement in a black cocktail suit sparingly embellished with interesting cuts of fabric.

Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Sheila Nevins had ruffles and flourishes on her flowing black skirt. And she wins the award for big and girlie hair. And for making it work.

CNN’s globetrotting correspondent Christiane Amanpour, who served as a presenter, looked the part of a young London hipster in a cropped black tank and pants and a sliver of bare belly showing just above a pearl-and-glitter belt that rode at her hipbones.

But the favorite here was the long sheath of boldly patterned black and taupe worn by Lisa Ling, host of National Geographic Channel’s “Explorer.” The dress was strapless but for a glittery black yoke/necklace.

It was previously worn by its designer, Vivienne Tam, a friend of Ms. Ling, who is a regular road warrior these days.

She’d just returned from El Salvador, where she and freelance producer Andy Tkach, formerly with “60 Minutes,” worked on a story about a street gang that has infiltrated more than five countries and 30 U.S. states, when Oprah Winfrey asked her to head south to help report on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Ms. Ling, clearly thriving on the whirlwind she’s been riding since leaving “The View” in 2002, said, “I hope it doesn’t stop for a long time.”