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October 22nd, 2014
05:54 AM ET

Washington Post's Ben Bradlee Dies

Ben Bradlee, the zestful, charismatic Washington Post editor who guided the paper through the era of the Pentagon Papers and Watergate and was immortalized on screen in "All the President's Men," has died. He was 93.

Bradlee began end-of-life care at his home last month after suffering from Alzheimer's disease and dementia for several years. He was the executive editor of The Washington Post from 1968 to 1991, during which time the paper covered the downfall of President Richard Nixon in the Watergate scandal.

"He was diagnosed a while ago, but it became obvious that he had a serious problem about two years ago," his wife, Washington Post columnist Sally Quinn, said in a recent C-SPAN interview.

In November, President Barack Obama awarded Bradlee the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor awarded to civilians.

"Ben was a true friend and genius leader in journalism," Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein - the Post duo who broke and pursued the Watergate story - said in a statement. "He forever altered our business. His one unbending principle was the quest for the truth and the necessity of that pursuit."

Bradlee was, in his way, Washington royalty: friend to John F. Kennedy, overseer of the capital's most important newspaper, a mover and shaker in a tailored suit. In one era, when politicians and journalists were chummier, he kept the capital's secrets; in another, he exposed them. He was descended from Boston Brahmins and easily hobnobbed with the wealthy and eminent.

Still, even as he became one of them, Bradlee always maintained his skepticism of Washington power players. And it only grew stronger over time.

In a 1995 interview with CNN's Larry King, Bradlee said he had observed "an enormous increase in not telling the truth, lying" during his career covering government. Asked whether it was Democrats or Republicans who lied more, Bradlee said, "Well, the whole mob."

It was a pair of scandals that made Bradlee a national figure.

In 1971, the Post and The New York Times decided to publish thePentagon Papers, leaked classified documents that showed that the war in Vietnam was not going as political leaders and the military brass portrayed it. Bradlee, publisher Katharine Graham and the Post fought the objections of Richard Nixon's administration all the way to the Supreme Court, which upheld the newspapers' right to publish the documents.

The editor said the fight propelled the Post into the upper echelons of American journalism.

"The Post was still looking for a seat at the big table," he recalled. "We weren't at the big table yet. We very much wanted to go there."

A year later, Post reporters Bernstein and Woodward led the way in unraveling Watergate, the story of the break-in and coverup that ultimately led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.

See more on this story on CNN.com

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Winners of the 2014 Emmys
August 26th, 2014
04:01 AM ET

'Breaking Bad' Strikes Emmy Gold

"Breaking Bad" is in blue heaven.

The AMC series - about a chemistry teacher-turned-drug lord who rides powerful methamphetamine called "Blue" to wealth and pain - concluded its triumphant run last year as one of the most-lauded TV series of all time: the story of "Mr. Chips turning into Scarface," as creator Vince Gilligan liked to describe it. On Monday, the show received one more set of honors: a slew of nods at the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards, including the Emmy for outstanding drama series.

The show won six Emmys total, second only to "Sherlock: His Last Vow's" seven among all programs.

Quick read: Full list of winners

There was some tough competition this year, notably from "True Detective," the moody HBO detective series starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson.

Bryan Cranston won the lead actor Emmy for his performance as meth king Walter White, beating out the Oscar-winning McConaughey, who was the subject of laudatory and humorous remarks all night long.

"Even I thought about voting for Matthew," joked Cranston, and then turned serious.

"My own family nicknamed me Sneaky Pete," he said, noting he didn't expect he'd find his niche. And then he found acting.

He dedicated the Emmy to "all the Sneaky Petes of the world. ... Take a chance, take a risk. It's really worth it."

Aaron Paul got his third win for playing Jesse Pinkman, White's sometimes undependable right hand.

"I've learned so much, on screen and off," he said to Cranston, sitting in the audience.

And Anna Gunn won for outstanding supporting actress for her performance as White's wife. She also won last year.

Show writer Moira Walley-Beckett also won.

"Detective" wasn't completely shut out. It won four technical awards at the Creative Arts Emmys on August 16 and another one on the telecast, the latter for director Cary Joji Fukunaga.

See more on the awards HERE

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August 12th, 2014
05:32 AM ET

Robin Williams and the Dark Side of Comedy

By tradition, Drama is represented by two masks: the happy face of the comic muse Thalia and her sad counterpart, the tragic muse Melpomene.

If Drama were Robin Williams, you'd need a million more.

He was a mask of howling laughter, a mask of wide-eyed innocence. A sneer. A frown. Even, at times, a blank.

If it seemed like we knew what went on behind the many masks, it was because Williams' quicksilver mind and boundless talent possessed enough energy to blow them right off his face. He WAS Mork. He WAS Adrian Cronauer of "Good Morning, Vietnam." He WAS Patch Adams, and "Aladdin's" genie, and Mrs. Doubtfire.

But he was also the restrained Garp in "The World According to Garp," and the creepy Seymour Parrish in "One Hour Photo," and the firm but compassionate Sean Maguire in "Good Will Hunting," the performance that won him an Oscar.

It was that side of Williams - something raw and vulnerable, not something manic and boisterous - that made you wonder: who was he when he took off the mask?

On Monday, Williams was found dead in his home in Tiburon, California. He was 63. Coroner investigators suspect "the death to be a suicide due to asphyxia," according to a statement from the Marin County, California, Sheriff's Office.

It's a cliché, of course, the clown who laughs on the outside while crying - or dying - on the inside. It's Pavarotti's Pagliacci and Charlie Chaplin's Little Tramp; Willy Wonka and Laurence Olivier's Archie Rice.

Show business history is filled with stories of comic kings who fought against depression and substance abuse, not always successfully. Jonathan Winters, Williams' hero, was institutionalized for a time. The effortless Dick Van Dyke once said he was "mostly drunk for 15 years." John Belushi and Chris Farley died of overdoses.

Mitch Hedberg, Freddie Prinze, Richard Jeni - all funny men, all gone before their time.

There's no question that comedy can be a form of escape - and recognition. Richard Pryor, one of the most brilliant comedians who ever strode on stage, was raised in a brothel, married multiple times, struggled with demons both societal and personal. He was ruthless - especially on himself.

Yet he was scathingly, mercilessly funny. It was comedy that drew blood, comedy as catharsis.

Chris Farley, on the other hand, grew up in a close-knit, comfortable clan - but also sometimes seemed to be running from something. His immersion in Matt Foley, the divorced motivational speaker who lived in a "van down by the river," was both hilarious and a little scary.

"We lose at least one great comic to suicide or ODs every year," tweeted comedian Michael Ian Black on Monday. "Our jobs are to communicate, but we seem to not know how to ask for help."

See more on CNN.com

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