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Breaking News! Brian Williams Entertains Me

This just in: Brian Williams is a huge fan of obituaries, owns two American cars, and thinks Jon Stewart is a necessary branch of government. Good evening, I’m Samia Khan. (The lead of my hypothetical newscast after my run-in with Brian Williams.)

Alright enough of the daydreaming. Let’s talk business. My business. News business.

I grew up a Peter Jennings (RIP) kinda girl. From age five onwards, you could be certain I was watching World News Tonight on the regular (not to mention my post-TGIF 20/20 ritual with Barbara Walter and Hugh Downs.)

Anyway, Brian Williams has that same PJ appeal. Collected. Composed. Confident. You WANT to hear the news from him. He’s like the professor you wish you had.

It’s safe to say that Brian Williams is the man when it comes to “breaking news.”

However, when I finally had my 200 or so seconds with Bri-Wi, I let all my broadcast journalism colleagues and professors down… when I talked to him about… entertainment.

Yes, entertainment. Not major world issues. Not minor issues that affect our local community. Rather. Entertainment (and yes, the word “Kardashian” was muttered, so naturally, you can understand the guilt I feel in retrospect.)

SK: What do you think about the way entertainment influences news these days and vice versa, the way news determines what goes on TV?

BW: Well the vice versa thing is the most interesting, I think my job is different. It’s to prevent entertainment from encroaching into news. The business of covering entertainment is now a massive industry in a way that it wasn’t when I was coming up. So, I’ve only got 30 minutes a night from the network, and then you subtract commercials from that. And we have a really serious world, and I’ve got troops to cover, fighting wars on two fronts. So that’s why NBC nightly news has only done two stories on Tiger Woods – we gotta move on, we just cant we cant get wrapped up in all things Kardashian because we’re busy covering what’s going on in Kabul.

SK: What about the MJ story? (Yes *cringe* I asked about MJ… as if I hadn’t had enough coverage of him over at TVGuide…)

BW: I think that, I say to people,  ‘You know where to find it.’ We’re not gonna be the place where people go for the latest on Michael Jackson. We’re just not. We noted the fact that he was an American icon and entertainer.  But that’s all. Um we’ve moved on. And there are no shortage of places where you can learn about the life or times and music of Michael Jackson. (I suggest Hollywood blvd…)

OK enough of the hard-hitting questions, let’s get to the fun stuff… like, what’s on Brian Williams entertainment radar? (Because if we imitate him, we too just may be the next network news anchor…)

He tells me he’s a movie-kinda guy (as we talk movies, he even apologizes for “Going all Leonard Maltin” on me. I then tell him Leonard Maltin was my teacher at USC.) This past Oscar season, he checked out “It’s Complicated,” “Up in the Air,” “Crazy Heart,” and “Brothers.” He says he loved “It’s Complicated.”

He’s also a big fan of Thursday nights on NBC (I wonder if he’s allowed to plug a rival network?) And yes… he plans to make a future cameo (once again) on “30 Rock.”

Other Fun Facts:

  • He enjoys writing obituaries, and for some reason, its the first section he turns to in a newspaper.
  • Owns two American cars – a Ford and a Chevy.
  • Considers Jon Stewart a sort of necessary branch of government, keeping everyone in check
  • Told me I should replace him on ‘Nightly News’ when he retires (ok maybe not…but, I just wanted to end this post on an optimistic note.)


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