Linda Ellerbee

Journalist


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In her three-hour Archive interview, Linda Ellerbee talks about starting out as a writer before transitioning to being an on-air correspondent in local news. She discusses moving to network television, working on programs including Weekend and The NBC Nightly News. She recalls co-hosting NBC News Overnight, which gained a massive cult following, and solidified her persona with the American public. Ellerbee talks about guest-starring on Murphy Brown, which Diane English based on Ellerbee's life, and the finale of Ellen. She then discusses the formation of her production company, Lucky Duck Productions, and its keystone news series for kids, Nick News. Throughout the interview Ellerbee discusses the state of the news industry as well as her philosophy of how news should be covered on television. Karen Herman conducted the interview on June 9, 2010 in New York, NY.

"Even at age 10 it was fairly clear to me that if the Soviet Union dropped a hydrogen bomb on us, climbing under my little wooden desk and putting my hands over my head wasn't going to help. I spent a lot of time afraid of what's going to happen because I would see these images on television of Khrushchev pounding his shoe at the UN and the tests of the bombs that were being conducted, and I would go to bed terrified. No one talked to me about this. My parents didn't talk to me about what I was watching, my school didn't talk to me, no one in the church talked to me, certainly no one on television addressed my fears as a kid of the news that I was seeing. Don't you think I didn't think about that years later when we went to start Nick News."

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Linda Ellerbee on being fired from the Associated Press
Linda Ellerbee on going to work as a reporter for WCBS News in New York City
Linda Ellerbee on co-anchoring NBC News Overnight, and on what made the show special
Linda Ellerbee on the popularity and cult following of NBC News Overnight
Linda Ellerbee on her long-running partnership with Nickelodeon, and on Nick News covering controversial topics
Linda Ellerbee on the Nick News coverage of 9/11
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On her early life and influences; on being interested in current events as a child
On becoming a writer; on gaining the courage to try to be a writer from her teacher Mabel Scott; on being an editorial cartoonist for her college newspaper
On her first professional job, at the Associated Press broadcast wire; on being fired from the Associated Press; on being hired by the CBS affiliate in Houston, Texas
On her first television news job, at KHOU in Houston, replacing Jessica Savitch; on her the kinds of stories she covered at KHOU; on learning on the job at KHOU
On the biggest story she covered while at KHOU: serial killer Dean Corll; on becoming a minor celebrity in Houston, and how she has dealt with celebrity in her career
On the enduring popularity of NBC News Overnight; on going to work as a reporter for WCBS News in New York City

Chapter 2

On her stint as the hard news reporter at WCBS News in New York City; on retaining her Texas accent; on being hired by NBC News to cover Congress
On covering the 1976 Democratic convention for NBC News; on covering the return of the American hostages from Iran in 1981; on co-hosting Today for one week
On co-hosting Weekend with Lloyd Dobyns; on co-anchoring NBC News Overnight, and on what made the show special; on the popularity and cult following of NBC News Overnight
On what she feels is the problem with television news; on how television news became a business, in part due to 60 Minutes; on co-anchoring Summer Sunday
On Diane English basing Murphy Brown on Linda Ellerbee, and on appearing on the show; on appearing on Tanner '88, directed by Robert Altman, and on appearing on the Ellen finale; on starting her production company, Lucky Duck Productions, and on her Maxwell House commercials

Chapter 3

On covering the royal wedding of Charles and Diana for NBC News; on the genesis of Nick News, and on the mission of the show
On how she went about reporting stories for kids on Nick News; on the age range for Nick News; on her long running partnership with Nickelodeon, and on Nick News covering controversial topics
On the Nick News brand; on the Nick News team; on the Nick News coverage of 9/11
On the feedback she receives about Nick News; on how the internet impacted the way she works; on then-current projects
On what she enjoys about producing and executive producing; on not wanting to retire; on her sign off, "And so it goes," and on the name of her production company, Lucky Duck
On how the role of women in television news has changed over time; on the power of television
On advice to aspiring journalists and news producers; on career highlights, regrets, and how she would like to be remembered
Shows

60 Minutes

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Linda Ellerbee on the how television news became a business, in part due to 60 Minutes

Ellen

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Linda Ellerbee on appearing on Tanner '88 directed by Robert Altman, and on appearing on the Ellen finale

Murphy Brown

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Linda Ellerbee on Diane English basing Murphy Brown on Linda Ellerbee, and on appearing on the show

NBC News

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Linda Ellerbee on being hired by NBC News to cover Congress
Linda Ellerbee on covering the 1976 Democratic convention for NBC News
Linda Ellerbee on covering the royal wedding of Charles and Diana for NBC News

NBC News Overnight

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Linda Ellerbee on the enduring popularity of NBC News Overnight
Linda Ellerbee on co-anchoring NBC News Overnight, and on what made the show special
Linda Ellerbee on the popularity and cult following of NBC News Overnight

Nick News

View Show Page
Linda Ellerbee on the genesis of Nick News, and on the mission of the show
Linda Ellerbee on how she went about reporting stories for kids on Nick News
Linda Ellerbee on the target age range for Nick News
Linda Ellerbee on her long-running partnership with Nickelodeon, and on Nick News covering controversial topics
Linda Ellerbee on the Nick News brand
Linda Ellerbee on the Nick News team
Linda Ellerbee on the format of Nick News
Linda Ellerbee on the Nick News coverage of 9/11
Linda Ellerbee on the feedback she receives about Nick News

Summer Sunday U.S.A.

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Linda Ellerbee on co-anchoring the disastrous Summer Sunday U.S.A.

Tanner '88

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Linda Ellerbee on appearing on Tanner '88, directed by Robert Altman, and on appearing on the Ellen finale

Today

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Linda Ellerbee on co-hosting Today for one week

Weekend

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Linda Ellerbee on co-hosting Weekend with Lloyd Dobbins
Topics

9/11

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Linda Ellerbee on the Nick News coverage of 9/11

Characters & Catchphrases

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Linda Ellerbee on her sign off, "And so it goes," and on the name of her production company, Lucky Duck

Creative Influences and Inspiration

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Linda Ellerbee on gaining the courage to try to be a writer from her teacher Mabel Scott

Diversity in Television

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Linda Ellerbee on how things have changed for women in television news over the years

Fame and Celebrity

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Linda Ellerbee on becoming a minor celebrity in Houston, and how she has dealt with celebrity in her career

Historic Events and Social Change

View Topic
Linda Ellerbee on covering the return of the American hostages from Iran in 1981
Linda Ellerbee on how things have changed for women in television over the years
Linda Ellerbee on the Nick News coverage of 9/11

Iran Hostage Crisis

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Linda Ellerbee on covering the return of the American hostages from Iran in 1981

New Media

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Linda Ellerbee on how the internet impacted the way she works

Pivotal Career Moments

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Linda Ellerbee on gaining the courage to try to be a writer from her teacher Mabel Scott

Pop Culture

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Linda Ellerbee on becoming a minor celebrity in Houston, and how she has dealt with celebrity in her career
Linda Ellerbee on her sign off, "And so it goes," and on the name of her production company, Lucky Duck

Television Industry

View Topic
Linda Ellerbee on what she feels is the problem with television news
Linda Ellerbee on the how television news became a business in part due to 60 Minutes
Linda Ellerbee on how the internet impacted the way she works
Linda Ellerbee on the power of television

Women

View Topic
Linda Ellerbee on how things have changed for women in television news over the years
Professions

Journalists & News Producers

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Linda Ellerbee on advice to aspiring journalists and news producers

Producers

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Linda Ellerbee on what she enjoys about producing and executive producing
Genres

Comedy Series

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Linda Ellerbee on Diane English basing Murphy Brown on Linda Ellerbee, and on appearing on the show
Linda Ellerbee on appearing on Tanner '88, directed by Robert Altman, and on appearing on the Ellen finale

Commercials

View Genre
Linda Ellerbee on starting her production company, Lucky Duck Productions, and on her Maxwell House commercials

News and Documentary

View Genre
Linda Ellerbee on the enduring popularity of NBC News Overnight
Linda Ellerbee on being hired by NBC News to cover congress
Linda Ellerbee on co-hosting Today for one week
Linda Ellerbee on co-hosting Weekend with Lloyd Dobyns
Linda Ellerbee on co-anchoring NBC News Overnight
Linda Ellerbee on co-anchoring Summer Sunday
Linda Ellerbee and hosting and producing Nick News
People

Robert Altman

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Linda Ellerbee on appearing on Tanner '88, directed by Robert Altman, and on appearing on the Ellen finale

Diane English

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Linda Ellerbee on Diane English basing Murphy Brown on Linda Ellerbee, and on appearing on the show

Reuven Frank

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Linda Ellerbee on advice from her mentor, Reuven Frank

Jessica Savitch

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Linda Ellerbee on her first television news job, at KHOU in Houston replacing Jessica Savitch, and on advice from her mentor, Reuven Frank

Steven Spielberg

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Linda Ellerbee on interviewing Steven Spielberg for her first story when she was working for KHOU in Houston

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