Friday, January 25, 2008
Appetite for Self-Destruction
Earlier this month, I posted a damn scathing little diatribe against former Philly news anchor and gossip page darling Alycia Lane. (Low Is Lane/1.08.08)
The latest issue of Philadelphia magazine features a pretty decent article profiling Lane's history and detailing what went on behind the scenes at KYW in the lead-up to her being fired for, among other things, allegedly punching a New York City cop.
One point brought up in the article, however, is worth elaborating on. During Lane's short-lived tenure at WTVJ in Miami, she was apparently taken under the wing of the station's former general manager, Don Browne. The author of the piece spoke with Browne about Lane and found that he generally has little to say about her that isn't complimentary: He calls her smart, a professional, a believer in the "old school" model of journalism.
While this seems to cast Lane in a much more positive light than she's been in lately -- the kind assessment wholly antithetical to what the public's been led to believe about a woman who sent bikini-clad pictures of herself to a married man and called a New York cop a "fucking dyke" -- there are a couple of facts about Browne's own personality which should probably be taken into account.
Don Browne hired me at WTVJ just a little over ten years ago; he had been pursuing me as a hire for a few years leading up to that. Not only do I respect and admire him -- he's been a die-hard Kool-aid drinking and dispensing prophet of the NBC canon for as long as anyone can remember -- I actually like him quite a bit; he's extraordinarily personable, if not more than a little intimidating. The bottom line is, he's by no means a stupid man or a bad manager.
Unfortunately, one of the issues that skeptics and cynics within the WTVJ newsroom felt obligated to point out during my time there was the "starfucking" environment Don Browne happily fostered. Arguably a solipsistic endeavor, he enjoyed surrounding himself with young, attractive on-air people whom he could slap with some "future of television news" tag and subsequently mentor, while they would in turn stand awestruck in the presence of the great and powerful Don until the whole thing turned into one big daily circle jerk of adoration and encomia.
Don hired a lot of outstanding on-air talent; he considered it his forté. But no one during my years at WTVJ -- the most rewarding and satisfying work experience of my career by the way -- questioned the fact that a pretty face and a couple of carefully placed buzzwords could win him over in a flash.
In other words, Don was never above being charmed.
And as you'll read, if there's one thing Alycia Lane has done well, it's draw from a very deep reservoir of charm when necessary.
Just something to keep in mind.
(Phildelphia: The Very Public Self-Destruction of Alycia Lane)