Safer, Sawyer, Gibson, O’Reilly Turn Out to Remember Don Hewitt

By Chris Ariens 

This morning the Rose Hall at the Time Warner Center was packed with friends and colleagues of legendary CBS Newsman Don Hewitt, who died in August.

In attendance, Hewitt’s “60 Minutes” correspondent corps including Morley Safer who spoke at the service. Andy Rooney sat in the third row, just across the aisle from Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly. A few seats from Rooney sat “Good Morning America” anchor Diane Sawyer, who was “60’s” first female correspondent. And one of the “60 Minutes'” originals, Mike Wallace, now 91 and in a wheelchair, attended this celebration of life for his former boss and friend.

Also in attendance ABC’s Charles Gibson, and former CBS News producers Jon Klein, now president of CNN/U.S. and Rome Hartman, now EP of BBC World News America.


“60 Minutes” executive producer Jeff Fager, who took over for Hewitt in 2004, opened and closed the event which included clips from the CBS News special, “Tell Me a Story,” a retrospective of Hewitt’s life named for the guiding principle of his work.

Calling Hewitt, “The writer’s best friend,” Morley Safer said his boss of more than 30 years, ran either hot or cold as he paced the office on West 57th St. “Lukewarm was not our Don.”

“Don was utterly incapable of small talk,” said Safer. “Don liked to boast he could cut the Lord’s prayer in half and make it better.”

CBS Corp. CEO Les Moonves said he was humbled when he first met Hewitt, a giant at CBS News. “’60 Minutes’ made us the Tiffany network,” said Moonves. The actor Alan Alda, a personal friend said, “Don was a fountain of ideas and a torrent of hard work.”

Hewitt’s son-in-law Bill Cassara, who worked with Hewitt on “60 Minutes” and his great-nephew Robert Fishman also spoke, as did Joan Ganz Cooney the founder of the Children’s Television Workshop and a friend of Don and his wife Marilyn Berger Hewitt, a former White House correspondent for NBC News.

Many of those who remembered Hewitt talked of his beloved Mecox Bay. It was here, at his home in Bridgehampton, that Hewitt died from complications of pancreatic cancer August 19.