CNN & Time, episode #124

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Show #124 of CNN & Time. Includes segments on Christopher Rocancourt, a con man who scammed the wealthy; the growing popularity of then presidential candidate Ralph Nader; renowned oral historian Studs Terkel's new book Will the Circle Be Unbroken?; and Cheryl Mendelson, the author of a best selling housekeeping book.

00:00 Black.

00:25 Slate.

00:38 Opening of CNN & Time teasers for segments including “The Great Pretender,” “Still Working,” a segment on Studs Terkel, and “Queen of Clean.”

2:33 Voice over announces CNN & Time with Jeff Greenfield and Bernard Shaw.

2:45 Start of “The Great Pretender?” segment produced by Steve McCarthy. Narrated by Charles Glass. A con man posing as “Christopher Rockefeller” scammed wealthy Hampton residents out of thousands of dollars. The con man, whose real name is Christopher Rocancourt, had previously masqueraded as an actor and mogul in Hollywood, before resurfacing in the Hamptons.

7:56 “He will suck out all of the blood out of you if he can, then move on,” says one District Attorney. Glass’ voiceover describes the process of how police discovered Rocancourt’s true identity, but not before he befriended many of the rich and famous, including Micky Rourke, and another anonymous woman who loaned him $50,000 as start up for a fictional restaurant.

10:44 Rocancourt had strong ties to Leah Bongo, the daughter of the president of the African country Gabon. Both were rumored to have been involved in diamond trading. Rocancourt was arrested again, then fled after bail and has not been found. 

13:40 Commercial break. Tape goes to black.

15:31 Slate.

16:10: Studs Terkel teaser.

16:55 Slate.

17:10 “The Nader Effect” segment. A CNN Correspondent’s news analysis of then Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader’s rising popularity and his threat to then Democratic Party presidential candidate Al Gore’s campaign.

19:55 Studs Terkel teaser. Voiceover of Bernard Shaw saying, “He’s talked to everyone from Ethel Merman to Martin Luther King.”

21:25 “Still Working” Studs Terkel segment, produced by Henry Schuster, edited by Lisa Satterfield, narrated by Bernard Shaw.

22:13 Voice over of Bernard Shaw, “Studs Terkel will talk to everyone,” explaining that Studs “paints a unique portrait of our nation.” Footage of Studs getting on the bus and talking to people on the street. “I talk a lot. I even talk to myself,” Studs says in a cut of sit down interview footage, “I find the audience very appreciative.”

23:33 Cut to sit down interview with Bernard Shaw. Studs talks about oral history, which is “having people tell their own story and bringing them forth.”

23:41 Stills of Studs as a young boy, while Shaw’s voice over goes into detail of his childhood, and the impact of his parents moving to Chicago and being raised in a men’s hotel. Cutting back to sit down interview, Studs says, “Chicago turned me on from the very first day I came here. I loved it because suddenly there was a vitality to it… that hotel to me was more of an education than the University of Chicago was.”  

24:40 Photo stills and clips from Studs television and radio performances. Shaw’s voice over explains how during the McCarthy era Studs’ “radical politics” got him in trouble, especially with an NBC lawyer.  As for those who called him heroic for refusing to sign a loyalty contract, Studs says, “I wasn’t. I was scared stiff, but my ego was at stake, so what do you mean I’m dumb?” Blacklisted for multiple years, Studs began working on a radio program at WFMT with legendary jazz singer Mahalia Jackson. When Studs again refused to sign a contract, Studs remembers Jackson saying, ‘If they fire Studs you tell them to find another Mahalia Jackson,’ then adds “So what happened? Nothing… somebody said ‘no’ to the phonies.”

26:00 Audio samples from the many interviews Studs conducted during his 45-year long radio show.

27:08 Voice over explains how after a publisher asked Studs to write a book about Chicago, the product of that was Division Street. “Their voices jump off the page,” Studs says of those he interviewed, “Not because of my writing, because of their speaking to me.”

28:28 Interview with Florence Scala, an activist who was interviewed for the book. “He caught the essence of our sadness, of our loss,” she says in a sit down interview, “Immediately he acts like you’ve been buddies for years. He shows a great deal of warmth and although he may not know a great deal about you in particular he begins to dig… because of course you also want it to come out.”

29:07 Cut to sit down with Shaw, who asks Studs how he “unlocks” people. “I talk,” explains Studs, “They see a goof to begin with… they help me out… they help me and that person feels I need them. To feel needed is terribly important and immediately they know I’m not from Mount Olympus.”

30:00 Studs explains his name came from the novel Studs Lonigan by James T. Ferrell, including the anecdote how his name got him in trouble after a librarian from Georgia sent him a note explaining a man demanded to see the “pornographic” novel “Working Studs by Terkel.” “And that’s when I knew I had a bestseller,” Studs says.

30:21 Footage of his thousands of tapes at the Chicago Historical Society, including the interview with French mime artist, Marcel Marceau. “I couldn’t get a word in edgewise,” Studs recalls about the interview.

31:16 Studs says his most powerful interview was with C.P. Ellis, a former cyclops of the Ku Klux Klan in Durham, North Carolina.  Ellis, who left the Klan and went on to drive around the US with black activist Ann Atwater organizing janitorial unions, was tracked down by Studs in 1980. “That to me is Biblical in it’s power, scriptual,”Studs says of Ellis’ story. “It’s about sin, revelation, redemption, and transcendence. That, to me, tells me that there’s hope that people can change.”

32:35 Voiceover discusses changes in Studs life, including ending his radio show and the death of his wife Ida, who was a social worker and who Studs remembers as “a girl in the maroon smock.”

33:19 Studs discusses his new book Will the Circle Be Unbroken?: Reflections on Death, Rebirth, and Hunger for a Faith, with Shaw. Footage cuts back and forth to interview with Roger Ebert, one of Studs’ close friends who took Studs on a cruise to help ease the pain of his wife’s death.”How can you talk about life without saying sometime its gonna end,” says Studs to Shaw in the interview, “I’m 88 years old and I have three books in mind, so you have an idea how goofy I might be, I have to do this one. What a great challenge to write about something that nobody has experienced but we all will.” When Shaw asks what Studs will have on his gravestone, he replies, “‘Curiosity did not kill this cat.’ That’s it, I’ll settle for that.”

35:12 End of segment.

36:30 Commercial break, tape goes black.

37:18 Slate.

37:56 “Queen of Clean,” produced by Henry Schuster, edited by Michael Dangerfield, narrated by Kathy [Sloggan]. Cheryl Mendelson, who has a Harvard law degree and a doctorate in psychology, is author of Home Comforts: the Art of Science and Keeping House, a do it yourself book that has sold over 200,000 copies and argues against the idea that being a woman “in the kitchen” is anti-feminist. 

38:20 Voiceover narrates Mendelson’s background over photo stills of her childhood, explains the house keeping skills taught to her by her aunts, and how after her parents moved her from rural to suburban America, she suppressed her love of housekeeping to follow a more contemporary model of women’s success.

38:24 During a sit down interview and in defense of her book, Mendelson says, “The feminism of the mid 20th century attacked it as a means of getting women into jobs, they thought that housework was an idiot work. … I’m not trying to put women back in the kitchen, my book is addressed to men and women and I think all of us should be in the kitchen and we should have jobs that permit us to have a full life, not a part life.”

39:16 Short interview with a mother of twins from New Jersey who sees the daily chore list Mendelson establishes in her book as unrealistic.

47:19 End of segment.

48:09 End of show. Credits.

49:20 End of tape.



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