Video: Star Power: Diane Sawyer

Diane Sawyer, with a new prime-time show and a $1.6 million contract, is hot. But are celebrity anchors like her upstaging the news?

  • Share
  • Read Later

(8 of 9)

As co-anchor with Kuralt and later Bill Kurtis, Sawyer helped boost the ratings for the No. 3-ranked morning show to their highest levels ever. Colleagues were impressed by her dedication. "She would show up at 2 o'clock in the morning and write her own copy," recalls a producer. "This was unheard of. There was no way you could not respect her." But she soon grew dissatisfied with the low priority the Morning News was given at the network and with the trivia she was sometimes forced to handle. "I thought this is not really what I should be doing," she says. "It was time to move on."

/ That's when Hewitt came calling with an offer for her to become 60 Minutes' first female correspondent. Joining the old-boy network of Wallace, Morley Safer, Harry Reasoner and Ed Bradley was not easy, and reviews of her performance were mixed. Producers found her, as usual, to be a trouper -- willing to go anywhere, endure any hardship for a story. "She has a lot of cold blood," says producer Anne de Boismilon. "You can never feel fear coming from her." Others, however, grew impatient with her for endlessly tinkering with stories. "She could drive a producer crazy fixing, then fixing again and again," says one source. "What she needed was a baby-sitter to tell her to get on with it."

Outside the office, Sawyer is praised as unfailingly gracious and generous. When relatives of co-workers are sick, she sends cards and fruit baskets; her thank-you notes are known for their eloquence. Her own life-style, meanwhile, is far from extravagant. In the New York City apartment she occupied while single, "she preferred no decor," says a close friend. "Basically, what she had was an awful little table in the living room with a couple of small couches and some dying plants." Admits Sawyer: "I'm hopeless. I'd just as soon send out for pizza and sit on pillows in front of the fire."

Her marriage to Nichols has changed some of that; they are planning to redecorate their brownstone on Manhattan's Upper East Side, and they have a house in Connecticut and a ranch in California. Sawyer is even getting involved in cooking. "She does it the way she does everything," says Nichols. "She cuts out 35 different versions of the recipe. We do it together. It is very detailed and sometimes complex." The pair met two years ago on a Concorde flight from London and went to lunch a couple of times to discuss doing a profile for 60 Minutes. Nichols finally confessed that he didn't want to do the piece -- but wanted to keep having lunch. "All of her is always available all the time," he gushes. "She uses more of her brain than almost anybody I know."

Sawyer's enthusiasms also run to tennis and movies, and Nichols has been introducing her to old films on the VCR (her most recent discovery: Renoir's The Rules of the Game). Nichols sat in on run-throughs of Sawyer's new ABC show and offered some suggestions about lighting and blocking. But, says Sawyer, "we're not very good consultants on each other's careers. We're very good, astute experts on each other and being happy." Notes a colleague: "She's like a kid, madly in love for the first time."

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9