"Up Close and Personal" (Roone Arledge's Wide World of Sports) (1972)

Bapopik at AOL.COM Bapopik at AOL.COM
Sun Jan 2 09:16:23 UTC 2005

This past summer, at the Republican convention in New York, the former  House
majority leader Richard Armey took me aside at a fat-cat function and
whispered, ''Personal is the word, not private.'' Sure enough,  in all Republican
presentations of elements of the future ''ownership society,''  the warm, almost
cuddly word personal -- as in ''up close and  personal,'' a phrase used in
The Times in 1915 to describe the  closeness of the Rev. Selden Delaney with his
parishioners, later popularized as  the title of a 1996 movie starring
Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert Redford -- is  the term used to escape from private, a
word that is the antithesis of  public and is seen to offend most blue-state
citizens. (That's a  complicated sentence that wishes it were merely complex.)
Every week you gotta correct this guy. This is wrong in TWO ways. Thank
goodness he's an ADS member and listens to you. YOU write to Times Corrections
for me.
The 1996 stinker titled "Up Close and Personal" had popularized this? By  the
three people who saw it?
I remember that Ted Koppel said "up close and personal" for  years, from
way-back-when. Koppel credits ABC's Roone Arledge.
When I type "up close and personal" into my SABR Proquest subscriptiom, I
don't get 1915 at all. I get 1972 and this:
_Display  Ad 45 -- No Title_
New York Times (1857-Current  file). New York, N.Y.: Aug 25, 1972. p. 67 (1
Watch the greatest athletes under the sun...up close and personal...the ABC
William Safire cites this, but it isn't "up close and personal" at  all:
_Experiment  in Personal Ministry Tried Here; Appointment of Rev. Dr. Selden
P. Delaney as  Pastor at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin May Solve Pressing
Problems of  Church Work_
New York Times (1857-Current file).  New York, N.Y.: Nov 14, 1915. p. SM20 (1
Rectors have so many responsibilities and must discharge so many  obligations
that it is practically impossible for them to keep up close personal
acquaintanceships with the parishioners.

By the time Roone Arledge became president of ABC News in  1977, it's safe to
say he already merited a lifetime achievement award for  his accomplishments
as president of ABC Sports. In fact, Sports  Illustrated selected Mr. Arledge
as one of the individuals who "have most  significantly altered or elevated
the world of sports," ranking him third  behind Muhammad Ali and Michael Jordan.

Under his leadership, ABC  Sports programming set standards that others have
tried to emulate. During  his years at ABC Sports, Mr. Arledge personally
produced coverage of an  unprecedented 10 Olympic Games. He is cerdited with
creating instant  replay, slow motion and advanced (and informative) graphics. Mr
Arledge's  concept of "ABC's Wide World of Sports" introduced superb coverage
of  offbeat sporting events and solid news reporting about sports
personalities. His creation of "NFL Monday Night Football" can easily be  credited with
changing America's TV sports-viewing habits. And the phrases  "up close and
personal" and "the thrill of victory and the agony of  defeat" are now part of our

Lulling Viewers Into a State of Complicity
'The approach of a storyteller seemed more apt.'

By Ted Koppel
Roone Arledge, the legendary broadcaster who invented ABC's "Wide World Of
Sports" and "Nightline," may be unaware of his debt to Mark Twain, but it
exists  nevertheless. The great American humorist once observed that "we are all
ignorant; just about different things." That could very well have been the
inspiration for the fashion in which Roone began so many of his "Wide World"
Back in the days when ABC had access to none of the major sports events; when
 football, basketball and baseball contracts were sewed up by the other major
 networks, Arledge fashioned a hugely successful series out of the arcane and
 secondary sports that received little or no attention anywhere else. Since
almost nothing was known about the champions of ski jumping or downhill
racing,  let alone the masters of hurling or the luge, Roone created an introductory
 segment that he called "up close and personal." The theory was simple: Give
the  public a video sketch of these unknown athletes, let us see their
training  methods, introduce us to their families, and we would have an investment in
 their success or failure. We would bring a level of interest to the events
in  which they competed. The concept worked brilliantly.
Among the virtues of a good idea are its portability and adaptability.
When we began "Nightline" in 1980, I took Mark Twain's admonition to heart
and stole Roone's idea from "Wide World of Sports."

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