Apr. 24, 2012 18:11
You could stand in the wings, as I did, close your eyes and just listen. Despite the mild reverberation of the PA System under the rotunda of 583 Park Avenue's dome, the voice was clear and unmistakable. And you wouldn't be alone if you time-slipped back and forth across decades because little has changed in that voice over time, a voice as familiar as a family member's. It was in the mid-60's when it was first becoming clear that this was a significant one in our culture. In 1965, that voice broke the story of Marines burning civilian huts in Vietnam -- a story that changed American opinion of the war and earned the wrath of President Lyndon B. Johnson. Then, 42 years ago, in 1970, he began his long stint of countless memorable episodes with CBS' 60 MINUTES. And over those years, in-between stories of international conflict and investigations of corporate misdeeds, he has especially favored stories documenting the arts and artists. It was this coverage of the world's cultural heritage that earned him honoree status at the 2012 rendition of the annual Symphony Space Spring Soiree and Access to the Arts awards ceremony on April 16. During his acceptance speech it was striking to realize that his voice, familiar as it is, is one both inimitable and deceptive. Inimitable in its singular timbre and rhythm; deceptive in that it seems so at-ease and so casual even as it makes its way to a finer point. Make no mistake, this is the well-crafted voice of one of our great storytellers, a story-teller who knows how to use that sense of easy demeanor to cut through the veneer and get down to the heart of the matter. And isn't that what the episodes on 60 Minutes are: great, revelational stories.
His acceptance speech was true to form -- it was a great story. From recounting his time spent with his presenter, the internationally-acclaimed violin soloist, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, who he has TWICE been interviewed for the show ("He was incredibly fun and very relaxed," she reported. "Until the cameras started to roll and you saw that world-famous smirk -- that smirk! -- the one that tells you 'this is 60 Minutes so no bullshit!'"), to reminiscences of his "boss", the recently deceased Mike Wallace, to a very humorous "rant" about art critic, Roberta Smith, and his current feud with her, his is a voice that you could listen to ad infinitum.
Morley Safer's face is of course as familiar as his voice. It is now a face etched with the lines of experience and his are eyes deeply-visioned -- he has probably forgotten more than many of us will ever get the chance to learn. For our portrait session he was kind, cooperative, patient and giving. It was an honor to photograph him for not only have I long held him in the highest regard but he is a living legend and one of the last of his generation of great broadcast journalists. May we be treated to many more than 42 years of 60 Minutes.
Apr. 11, 2011 12:35
Apr. 11, 2011 12:25
It was exciting to have my second opportunity to photograph composer Phillip Glass at the 2011 Symphony Space Gala. This time it was for an official portrait. He was in fine spirits and when I mentioned that we had first met at The Art Directors Club reception for the opening of the third in the Qatsi Trilogy of films by Godfrey Reggio. (Phillip happily informed me they are working on a fourth!) The first in the series, KOYAANISQATSI, was how I first learned of Philip Glass. Can’t wait to see & hear what comes next.