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Up Close & Personal

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Judging from my experience in broadcast news, I think Up Close & Personal is just hideous. First, it perpetuates the myth that women can rise to the top only by sleeping their way there. It sends the message that if you’re a cute blond, you’re going to catch the news director’s eye, and that’s all you need to succeed. Okay, I’ll admit looks are important. My department chairman in college did tell me I had the perfect face for radio. But there’s more to broadcasting than appearance.

In this movie (suggested by Golden Girl, Alanna Nash’s bio of Jessica Savitch), Tally Atwater (Michelle Pfeiffer) gets her first TV job in Miami as a desk assistant. What news director is going to bring someone with no experience from Reno, Nevada, to a major market for an entry-level position? ”Oh, gee, I guess there aren’t enough people here.” Hello? We use interns as desk assistants.

And it’s ridiculous that a Miami station wouldn’t have a full-time weatherperson. Robert Redford, as news director Warren Justice, says he doesn’t like weatherpeople. Well, I’m getting tired of everyone dumping on weather! People think they can do our job because we look normal, just like one of their relatives. No wonder Tally didn’t last doing the weather. Seriously, with hurricanes sweeping through, no Miami news director would leave that position open.

Every depiction of TV news in this movie is laughable. I know you have to suspend disbelief sometimes, but come on. The Mary Tyler Moore Show was more accurate. How did Tally broadcast live from the prison riot? There’s no cable snaking around anywhere. Everybody in the business howls at this. And her camera operator must have the longest-running battery ever. You folks at home know the freakin’ thing goes for 20 minutes and dies.

I like Pfeiffer and Redford, but I can’t understand why they did this movie. When Justice says admiringly, ”She eats the lens,” I almost had to turn it off. It was so embarrassing, I hoped the VCR would eat the tape. F

Al Roker, the Today show’s weatherman, hosts an eponymous talk show on CNBC.