Long live “NBC News Overnight” This was the best TV Network Newscast that has ever been produced. We enjoyed the greatest anchors and the finest staff ever assembled by Executive Producer and creator Herb Dudnick, RIP, Herbie.
My friend and colleague Linda Ellerbee writes -
"Fade in. Fade out. It didn’t go on forever. It didn’t change the world or the networks. All it ever was, was a low-budget, a late-night television program. But it was ours.
They said NBC News Overnight had an attitude. I was never certain what that meant, but many things about that program remain a mystery to me.
Take Herb Dudnick, Executive Producer of this brave new show. Dudnick came into the business late. When he went to work for the NBC station in Philadelphia, he was probably the only balding, near-sighted, father-of-two desk assistant in TV News.
I met him some years later. A tall, tanned man who spoke through and around a pipe he seldom lit, Herbie came to NBC executive headquarters every day in jeans, college sweatshirts, and sneakers, but not the expensive kind. He wore baseball caps to hide the fact he was losing his hair, or because he knew he looked good in baseball caps. He hid his emotions behind poker-player eyes and then hid those behind a pair of wire-rimmed glasses. Behind a hearty manner and a gee-whiz enthusiasm, he hid a lot of impatience. Behind a faked cynicism, he hid a good heart. Herb Dudnick was a complicated man, hard to know, and — I was certain — not loose enough, not weird enough, for this new, experimental late-night show.
“Piece of cake,” Herbie said. “We’ll give ‘em something and then a something.”
Okay. I was wrong. Herb Dudnick was that weird. Maybe too weird.
The night before the first broadcast, two rehearsals were scheduled. The first one was terrible; we’d have had to get better to die. The second rehearsal was called off due to talk of blood on the floor. By 7 pm the next night, Lloyd Dobyns and I who, in a fit of loyalty to regular paychecks, had agreed to write and anchor this mess, were at our desks, writing in near panic, but hiding this because, as Lloyd pointed out, many young people worked on the program, people who had their careers still in front of them, and it would be bad for morale if they saw the two of us openly sobbing. Lloyd said we should think about life’s rich pageant and not how we were going to need to find new ways of earning a living, starting tomorrow.
At two minutes to air, Herbie came out of the control room, walked over to us, and smiled. Almost like a normal person. “Okay, guys, all we’re going to do is to respect our audience. If we do that, our audience will do us proud. And we’re going to get on and get off the air — on time. What else is there?”
We began. Herbie was right. In spite of a moderately ragged first hour, we gave ‘em “a something and then something,” Herbie code for We’ll give them something good and then we’ll give them something better.” And for the next 367 broadcasts, our audience did us proud, more than that, our audience became a full partner in the best news program most of us had ever seen, much less worked on. It was a piece of cake. We got on and off the air on time, too. What else is there?
Herb Dudnick died on February 17 of this year. I will miss you. But you know that.
And so it goes."
I am delighted to say that I not only had a fabulous time as one of the writers and producers, but I wish the show would return online. No offense to #Brokaw #Pauley #Chung #Mudd and the others I proudly produced for during a decade dedicated to The Peacock, but NBC Overnight anchors were the best, not just because we tied a little known television broadcast on CBS News 60 Minutes for https://journalism.columbia.edu/dupont Awards.
Let's hope some day we can get back together and have an Overnight Reunion
Please, know that your ideas and suggestions are always welcome. firstname.lastname@example.org