Sign The Guestbook
View The Guestbook
Archived Guestbook
Submit An Article
Staff List
Privacy Policy



Weekly Features
Letter from New York
Mathew Tombers is the President of Intermat, Inc., a consulting practice that specializes in the intersection of media, technology and marketing. For two years, he produced the Emmys on the Web and supervised web related activities for the Academy, including for the 50th Anniversary year of the Emmy Awards. In addition to its consulting engagements, Intermat recently sold METEOR’S TALE, an unpublished novel by Michael O’Rourke, to Animal Planet for development as a television movie. Visit his web site at

Friday, June 13, 2003

Quiet Dignity Among Men in Giant Mediums

It is Friday morning here in New York; rain continues to fall. We had a few minutes this week of sun and the chill has started to surrender to the city's summer mugginess.

But it may be that the rain this morning is simply the universe weeping for the passing of David Brinkley and Gregory Peck. The first thing I heard this morning was that Gregory Peck had died and I felt a sense of his passing, as I did yesterday with David Brinkley.

As a small child, I would sit with my father as he watched the Huntley/Brinkley Report, smoking L&M cigarettes and having a high ball, freshly home from the office. We'd listen to the world news and those moments were, I think, my first window to the wide world and the importance of things that went on more than two blocks from my house.

That program helped define, as we now look back, the shape and influence of television news. Those two men helped created a prototype of a program that has been replicated ad infinitum since then and which shifted the American population towards television as their primary source of news.

We watched the final broadcast of the Huntley/Brinkley Report as Huntley said good night for the last time before going off to the ranch he'd bought in Montana. I thought, I can remember now, that I was watching something important: the end of one thing, the beginning of another.

It seemed that not long later Huntley died of cancer and Brinkley cut his own swath across the television landscape but for me, and I suspect many of my baby boom generation, those two men are linked forever in our minds because they were together when we were young.

They gave to national and international events a sense of gravitas with a dose of intelligence and gentle humor. I will always remember the small wry grin that barely moved Brinkley's mouth as he said, "Good night, Chet."

This morning, as I retrospect on David Brinkley's death, I realize how influential he was in my life, an influence I experienced but did not cognitively recognize until today.

The same is true of Gregory Peck.

He had less of an immediate impact on my life. He was an actor I admired and respected. He was a human being I admired and respected. It always seemed he conducted his life with a quiet dignity and that was, in itself, admirable. That's particularly true when it seems that most movie stars, both of today and yesterday, are as well known for their misbehaviors as their talent.

He will forever be, in most minds, Atticus Finch in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, a role that challenged the rest of the country to rethink their racial attitudes and influenced the slow national shift toward accepting the concept, both emotionally and actually, of racial equality.

It would not have been so important a film without his performance.

As I add more years to my life experience, I find that this thing of quiet dignity more important than ever before. No one is perfect. Not knowing David Brinkley and Gregory Peck personally I am not aware of their warts and am left with their legacy of quiet dignity and sense of personal integrity. However, I suspect, that even if I knew them personally I would still be left with a legacy of dignity and integrity.

Gregory Peck gave weight to the silver screen during the "golden days" of filmmaking. His choice of roles gave weight to his career.

David Brinkley gave weight to television when it was establishing itself as a force in our lives and was defining its influence - and its responsibilities - in our collective lives. And as an active participant Brinkley helped shape and define those things for the medium.

Individuals who infuse their time and mediums with a sense of "weight" deserve the term of "giant" which is how the newspapers and news programs this morning are describing these two men. It is not an inappropriate use of the word.

Good night, David. Good-bye, Mr. Peck.