BOSTON (CBS) – Everything old is new again. Roseanne. Will & Grace. American Idol. Murphy Brown. Reboots are the unmistakable TV trend of 2018.
To celebrate WBZ-TV’s 70th anniversary as Boston’s first television station, we had an idea for a reboot of our own. How about recreating a classic Channel 4 promotional ad from the “Anchorman” era of local TV news? We thought it would be a fun, lighthearted way to pay tribute to our past, while simultaneously showcasing the faces of WBZ-TV today.
We began this project last spring by digging through our archives in search of iconic WBZ promos from the 1970s and 1980s. After identifying several contenders, we ultimately selected the 1980 “One 4 All” spot because of its memorable music, inclusive message, and classic imagery.
While we strove to create a close reproduction, we also chose to update some of the scenes for 2018. What follows is a shot-by-shot breakdown, comparing our reboot to the original.
It was easy to reproduce the opening helicopter shots. Nearly 40 years later, while our chopper is now blue instead of yellow, and it’s a slightly newer model, it still carries the SkyEye4 branding.
Boston Fish Pier Shot:
The next scene took us to the Boston Fish Pier. The original promo featured a shot of WBZ’s then-morning team of Jack Chase, Don Kent, and Linda Harris, casually sipping coffee with a local fisherman—as morning news teams often do. To recreate this shot, we returned to the Fish Pier one morning and to our surprise, found a similar boat with the same appearance. For as much as the Seaport district has changed, some things apparently remain the same. Our current morning team of Kate Merrill, Chris McKinnon, Danielle Niles, and Breana Pitts joined WBZ sales account executive Max Latif, who played the role of fisherman, for some morning coffee and conversation.
Hospital Room Shot:
In the hospital room shot, WBZ’s Lisa Hughes reprised the role of ‘intrepid reporter’ Tony Pepper, who anchored alongside Tom Ellis and then Jack Williams in the 1970s and early 1980s. WBZ employees Kristina Ravanis and Mara Hyman played the roles of nurse and patient in our reproduction.
Lobster Picnic Shot:
Next up in the original promo was the legendary Mike Douglas, who hosted a nationally syndicated daytime talk show and, apparently, lobster picnics when visiting Boston. An authentic New Englander who loves his seafood, we knew WBZ’s political analyst Jon Keller would be perfect for this role. WBZ medical editor Dr. Mallika Marshall and I-Team reporter Ryan Kath played the role of picnickers. And yes, that’s a real lobster! Yankee Lobster, a restaurant and wholesaler just down the street from the Fish Pier, provided us with the biggest one they could find.
This was a fun scene to recreate. That’s Barry Burbank, currently celebrating his 40th anniversary at WBZ-TV, in both the original and the reproduction. While he wore longer shorts this time around, he once again managed to sport a red “4-CAST” t-shirt. WBZ’s Chief Meteorologist Eric Fisher joined Barry for the new scene in place of longtime sportscaster Bob Lobel. They cheered on a group of kids, playing a spirited game of tug-of-war at Manning Field in Lynn.
Art Museum Shot:
We visited the National Center of Afro American Artists in Roxbury to reproduce the art museum shot. The original promo featured one-time WBZ anchor Chris Marrou who helped launch the early-afternoon “Live on 4” newscast at the time. We brought our contemporary Chris — morning news anchor Chris McKinnon — to the museum where local artists and employees showed him around. Our thanks to Barry Gaither and everyone at the museum for their help. This is a hidden gem in the heart of Boston and well worth a visit.
Boston Fire Department Shot:
Boston has long since ditched those lime-green fire trucks, but we did return to Engine Company 17 in Dorchester to tape this scene. Our sincere thanks to Chief Erik Pettaway, to recently retired BFD spokesman Steve MacDonald, and to all the men and women of the Boston Fire Department for the work they do every day. Of course, that’s legendary newsman Jack Williams in the original promo and WBZ’s David Wade in the reproduction.
Running Together Shot:
The original running scene featured John Davidson, who at the time hosted a nationally syndicated game show, alongside WBZ’s then-weekend news anchor Maurice Lewis. Wearing a “Boston or Bust” tank top, we can only assume John was training for the Boston Marathon. Nearly 40 years later, WBZ-TV is proud to be the only local broadcaster still committed to televising this iconic event. WBZ’s sports anchors Steve Burton and Dan Roche star in the reproduction, alongside WBZ sports producer Joe Giza and his daughter, as well as WBZ staffer Elaine Chin.
Reproducing this scene took us to the basketball courts at the Benjamin G. Brown School in Somerville. Incidentally, this is where our own David Wade once attended elementary school. WBZ’s Liam Martin played the part of former sportscaster Roger Twibell, showing off the same skills – and wardrobe – on the court. Our thanks to Principal Shawn Maguire for recruiting the students to participate.
Talk Show Studio Shot:
WBZ morning anchor Kate Merrill and Chief Investigative Reporter Cheryl Fiandaca aptly recreated this brief scene, originally featuring WBZ’s longtime consumer reporter and daytime talk show host Sharon King. To Cheryl’s right is WBZ sales account executive Pat Cashen who is currently celebrating her 50th year at the station!
Weather Maps Shot:
Next up are the old-school weather maps. Chief Meteorologist Eric Fisher played the part of WBZ icon Bruce Schwoegler. Executive Weather Producer Terry Eliasen and WBZ staffers Dalinda Ifill and Stephanie Ferreira joined him to review the charts.
Dance Troupe Shot:
We reached out to the Greater Boston Chinese Cultural Association to reproduce the next scene. Our sincere thanks to the members of the Melody Dance Troupe who graciously agreed to perform. That’s WBZ’s Paula Ebben in the reproduction and longtime Boston news anchor Gail Harris in the original.
“From the Heart of Boston” Shot:
We picked one of the hottest, most humid days to recreate this scene outdoors. After about 20 takes, WBZ morning anchors Kate Merrill and Chris McKinnon finally nailed it! Our biggest challenge here was finding that “From the Heart of Boston” t-shirt (thank you, Internet). For those wondering, that’s Gary Collins, who hosted the nationally syndicated “Hour Magazine,” and his wife Mary Ann Mobley in the original. Fun fact: we replaced the magazine Gary was reading with “Four All The Years: The Channel 4 Story,” a commemorative book produced for WBZ-TV’s 35th anniversary back in 1983.
Roller Skating Shot:
It’s not as easy to find roller skates in 2018 as it surely must have been in 1980. But we did, thanks to the Beacon Hill Skate Shop in Boston. WBZ meteorologists Danielle Niles and Pamela Gardner were good sports in reenacting the original scene, which featured “Evening Magazine” co-hosts Barry Nolan and Candace Hasey. Candace hosted the popular program in between the runs of Robin Young and Sara Edwards.
Concord Minute Men Shot:
Naturally, this scene took some coordination to reproduce. It was also one of the most fun. We reached out to the Concord Minute Men, who are still quite active, and happily agreed to reprise their roles and return to the George Washington statue in Boston’s Public Garden. Several longtime Minute Men even recognized their compatriots from the 1980 original! They brought muskets, a color guard, and an entire fife and drum music corps, and marched into the Public Garden to the delight of countless tourists and passersby on a beautiful evening last summer. WBZ’s Lisa Hughes played the part of her former co-anchor Jack Williams. Our thanks to the entire Concord Minute Men company and, in particular, Captain Doug Ellis, Ensign Paymaster Michael Rudd, and Musket Man Barton Rice, for their help. Of course, we also need to give a special shout-out to Imara Rice, who served as the flower girl.
North End Shot:
We returned to the North End for the penultimate shot. While we couldn’t make it to St. Anthony’s Feast last August, the gift shop at Olde North Square graciously agreed to let us tape at their storefront. David Wade stepped in for Tony Pepper and brought his daughter Danica along to receive a new hat.
Group News Team Shot:
The final shot took several months to coordinate. Scheduling all of our news anchors, meteorologists, sportscasters, and specialist reporters to appear in the studio at the same time was no easy task. Miraculously, we pulled it off and were able to match the ending of the original promo. We also wanted to include longtime reporter Bill Shields who joined WBZ-TV in 1980 and was actually in the original production. Look for both Bill and Barry Burbank on each side of the screen, in both the new and original versions.
Of course there are many WBZ-TV icons, such as Liz Walker and Joyce Kulhawik, who were not in the 1980 original. They both joined WBZ just after its production. While you won’t see them here, stay tuned for more retrospective footage over the next few months.
Later this week we are excited to be launching a 70-day countdown to WBZ-TV’s June 9th anniversary. Each day, we will share archival footage of an interesting news event that happened on that date during our 70-year span on the air. Stay tuned to WBZ-TV News, CBSBoston.com, and the WBZ/CBSBoston Facebook page.
Reproducing this classic production was truly a team effort. Many thanks to WBZ-TV Creative Services Director Peter Masucci who dreamed up the idea; to Promotions guru Sean Barnacoat who produced it; to photographer Sean Collins who shot every scene; and to editor Michael Ruzicka who spent hours bringing this together.
Watch: Interview With Sean Barnacoat
Through today’s lens, the 1980 promo is most definitely campy and over-the-top, but the basic message is still relevant in 2018.
Channel 4 is the One for All.
In today’s fractured media environment, we are proud to remain true to our roots as a broadcaster, here to serve the whole community.
We’re proud to be the only local station to broadcast the Boston Marathon, to bring you the Pan-Mass Challenge, and to be your home for the New England Patriots; to partner with many incredible organizations including: Big Sister Boston, Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston Children’s Museum, Project 351, Team Impact, Ron Burton Training Village, Positive Coaching Alliance, Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Dana Farber Cancer Center through the PMC, and the Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange through Wednesday’s Child.
As New England’s very first television station, with an unmatched 70-year legacy, WBZ-TV continues to bring you Everything Boston, year in and year out.