Bygones and Bygone Days

Oct 31, 2005  •  Post A Comment

“That doesn’t look like me,” said a woman standing behind The Insider as clips from 30 years played at last week’s anniversary party for ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

The Insider turned and asked: “Who doesn’t look like you?”

“Kathleen Sullivan. I used to look like that.”

Now Ms. Sullivan looks happily casual and tousled. She didn’t bat an eye when The Insider made full disclosure that she was the reporter who years ago wrote a story that landed on the front page of the New York Post about Ms. Sullivan, who, while on a cross-country road trip for the CBS morning show, made the classic TV mistake of muttering while her microphone was still on that under Larry Tisch, “CBS” stood for Cheap Broadcasting System.

Instead, the mid-’80s news anchor and substitute co-host smiled broadly, offered a card, urged The Insider to get in touch and was off on a round of catch-up conversations.

Also in the extended family crowd were Shelley Ross, executive producer Ben Sherwood’s predecessor at “GMA,” looking very Teri Hatchery in a fetching updo and an eye-catching brown sweater; early news anchors Margaret Osmer and Steve Bell (who’s teaching at Ball State, David Letterman’s alma mater); Joan Lunden, of course (David Hartman is scheduled to appear on “GMA” this week); bronzed Pat O’Brien and Lara Spencer of TV’s Johnny-come-lately “The Insider” and their new cohort in entertainment magazinedom, Kathie Me Gifford and hubby Frank Gifford. The Giffords weren’t the only couple in attendance who met on the show. Actor-turned-financial pundit Wayne Rogers met his wife, Amy, when she was a producer on “GMA.”

The alumni all looked better rested and healthier, if not happier, than their current counterparts, with whom “GMA” has built enough steam to fire some warning shots across the bow of the no-longer-so-far-ahead “Today” show.

Weatherman Tony Perkins told The Insider he’s of a mind to simply sell-or deposit on the sidewalk-everything he has in New York when he ends his “GMA” run and reports to work at his former haunt, Fox-owned WTTG-TV in Washington, after the November sweeps.

The ever-personable Robin Roberts was feeling a bit under the weather but not showing it in a knockout black pantsuit touched with velvet and accessorized with crystal and pearly jewelry and the whitest white shirt.

Charlie Gibson, also under the weather, confessed that he had been unable to reach his wife, Arlene, before he broached, with an appropriate casualness, the subject of her bout with breast cancer during his recent interview with Melissa Etheridge. But he did it with his usual style and grace, and it was, his wife would later say, OK. The Insider saw the interview and she would have to say it was better than OK. It added a real potency to Ms. Etheridge’s own powerful story.

Diane Sawyer joked from the stage that “at least one-third of the women in this room have co-anchored with Charlie [Gibson].”

Whether that number will grow is still to be revealed.

The Insider asked ABC News President David Westin when he will announce Peter Jennings’ successor on “World News Tonight,” a choice that presumably will affect Mr. Gibson one way or another, either because he stays on “GMA” or, as many people believe should happen, he gets the flagship anchor job he so richly deserves.

“All in good time. All in good time,” Mr. Westin said.

But The Insider has more fun trying other folks’ patience than exercising it herself.