Below is the text of the Saturday Evening Post article as posted recently to the email me and we'll work things out.
IMPORTANT NOTE: ALL TEXT AND PHOTOGRAPHS IN THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE ARE COPYRIGHT 1995 BY THE SATURDAY EVENING POST.
From: nobody@anon (Info)
Subject: Saturday Evening Post article (Long)
Date: 6 Feb 1996 23:38:47 GMT
The Saturday Evening Post, May/June '95
LYNNE RUSSELL: CNN'S STRAIGHT-SHOOTING ANCHORWOMAN
During the day, the multifaceted Russell moonlights as a sheriff's deputy and private eye; at night, she's the star of Ted Turner's "Headline News."
by John Christensen
To millions of cable-TV viewers worldwide, Lynne Russell is the red-haired, dark-eyed "Headline News" anchor who, for the past 12 years, has taken them around the world in 30 minutes. Yet Russell spends only four hours on camera each weekday evening. Away from the cameras, she has another life as a female Walter Mitty with a taste for law and order.
Some days, she straps on a gun and a bulletproof vest and directs traffic. Other days, she supervises a road race or screens visitors at Atlanta's Fulton County Jail as a volunteer deputy sheriff. Still others, she is an unpaid private investigator and must conceal her sleek, SIG-Sauer 9mm "short" pistol while she escorts a celebrity or goes on a stakeout to observe someone faking injury claims.
Almost any outing could put her, literally, in the line of fire. Given her achievement level, a new five-year contract, and an income well into six figures, the risks would seem to far outweigh any satisfaction she might get. It is all the more remarkable to everyone that she does these things without pay to avoid conflict with her job at "Headline News" -- everyone, that is, except Russell.
"Who wants to be safe all the time?" she asks. "If you're afraid of everything, you won't accomplish anything. I'm not saying this is a big achievement, but it's big for me, and I'm having fun."
There is a precedent for this kind of behavior in Russell's family. Her Aunt Mary, one of her mother's six sisters, went to Hawaii on a vacation in the late 1930s and enjoyed herself so much she never returned. Although it is true that on the morning of December 7, 1941, she waved gaily at the planes overhead, thinking they were American, she was nevertheless unerring in her sense of purpose. It simply was not in Aunt Mary to act the way others thought she should; for that reason, she was Russell's favorite.
"She was such an individual," Russell says. "She always did what she felt she had to do."
Russell was born in New Jersey November 1, 1946, to John Russell, a career army officer, and Carmela Pasqualina Evangelista, a homemaker. The couple didn't meet until they were in their mid-30s, and were nearly 40 when their only daughter was born.
They moved so often that Russell can't remember whether they lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico, twice or three times. However, she does remember graduating from high school there, and she recalls that no matter where they were, her childhood was a "fairy tale." Her parents were conservative and not particularly well-off, but they were unstinting with their affection.
"They accepted me unconditionally," she says, "but they weren't indulgent. I had a strict Italian mother who was going to do what was best for me, even if it killed me. She wasn't above whupping me on the side of the head if she felt I needed it. She's been so devoted to me, it's like I'm her life's work, even at 87. Sometimes I want to take her by the shoulders and shake her to remind her she has a life of her own."
When Russell married disc jockey Jim Dunlap in 1978, she wrote her father, saying that at last she had found a man as loving, intelligent, and good-natured as he. "When my father was stationed in Japan and we couldn't be there with him, he sent back nearly every penny he earned so I could have ballet and piano lessons," she says.
After attending parochial schools, she entered the University of Colorado in Boulder, where she studied nursing and married at age 19. Unable to reconcile her emotions with the demands of nursing ("I cried all the time," she says), she quit school and took a job writing commercials for a radio station in Fort Collins, Colorado.
By the time she left that job in 1971, she was a full-time disc jockey and divorced. She then took a job as program director and host of a news-and-interview radio show in Miami. Dunlap was one of her competitors at a Top-40 station; over the years, they kept running into each other. About the time she gave up on dating and decided she was perfectly comfortable on her own, love struck.
"One day you look at somebody and know, instantly," she says. "It's been the best thing in the world. He's very understanding and patient. He reminds me when I forget to enjoy the moment."
They moved from Miami to Jacksonville in 1978 when Russell got her first job in television. "Jim and I had an agreement," she says. "We would go wherever either one of us got a job in a market we wanted to be in."
Buoyed by a casual confidence that is the legacy of her upbringing, Russell easily made the transition to television. She modeled herself after Roger Mudd, the former CBS newsman whom she admired for his "half-smile and his conspiratorial approach. "Nobody likes to be talked at. I ask myself if I understand what I'm saying, because I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer, and I know it."
Over the next five years, she and Dunlap moved from Jacksonville to Boston to Honolulu to San Antonio, where in 1982, an acquaintance suggested she send a tape to Turner Broadcasting. Turner was starting up "Headline News," and Russell was one of the first three anchors it hired. The others were Chuck Roberts and David Goodnow, and all three are still with the network.
Dunlap decided to start a consulting business, but it was Russell who did all the second guessing. "I had left a good job in a really good market," she says. "I was working overnight and staying in a hotel, and I kept thinking, 'What the h--- have I done, and who the h--- is Ted Turner?'"
Her misgivings gave way to a more pressing concern. The anchors were working eight-hour shifts, which proved to be exhausting. They went to management "begging for relief," as Russell puts it.
Their hours were reduced, and Russell was given the evening anchor slot for no special reason she can recall. Even with the reduced hours, she continued to do a week-in-review show along with her nightly show and never had two days off in a row.
"We figured out at one point that Lynne literally had something like 3,000 hours of air time," says Jon Petrovich, executive vice president of "Headline News." "I kind of felt sorry for her. She was like one of those bomber pilots in 'Memphis Belle,' where they're trying to survive one last mission. She was our bomber pilot."
As she enters her 13th year of delivering the news every half-hour, four hours a night, five days a week, it would seem she'd be bored blind. Not so.
"It's important to me, because it's the only half-hour of news some people get," she says. "So I learn to pace myself and make the energy last."
Unlike other networks, where sets are tailored to suit the anchors, the "Headline News" studio is, in Petrovich's words, "a factory." It is an expanse of bare concrete in the middle of which is a carpeted platform and a desk. Behind the desk are a glass wall and a darkened room, where producers wearing headphones sit at banks of equipment and stare up at monitors.
"I really wasn't a very physical person when I took up karate," she says, "and I felt that I really had to stretch myself. What I learned is how much I can do, and since then, I've felt this need to stretch myself, to see how far I can actually go. Also, I'm a minimalist. I love seeing what you can do with what you have."
Although warm and friendly by nature -- it is beyond her to be impersonal -- Russell can be ferocious when she feels injustice has been done, to people or animals.
Dunlap recalls the night she came home raging about seeing horses pulling sightseers in carriages. She called People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and helped launch a campaign to ensure humane treatment for the horses.
When "Headline News" carries a story about cruelty to animals, children, or the downtrodden, Russell's face hardens, and her eyes narrow. Viewers were spared the look of scorn on Russell's face one night after she gave a report about a circus. The film segment had shown bears walking on their hind legs and elephants skipping rope.
"Sometimes I'm too sensitive," Russell says of what she calls her "maniac Italian" persona. "But it's real. I can't be other than what I am. I wouldn't do it at all."
Russell and Dunlap live in the suburban-Atlanta house they bought years ago for $70,000. They clean it and tend the yard themselves, and though they have made improvements, they have done nothing that might alert Architectural Digest. They laughingly refer to it as their "redneck hovel."
Russell is a vegetarian ("I don't eat anything with a face," she says) who also meditates twice a day. She is so disciplined that, even when she allows herself an extravagance such as champagne, she drinks water along with it to keep herself hydrated. Discipline fails only when she is shopping or around sweets. Shoes and Twinkies are her downfall.
"But lately, she's been buying diet Twinkies," Dunlap says.
Because they are so busy with volunteer activities, Russell and Dunlap don't socialize much. "We barely have time to see each other," Russell says.
One of her best friends is her son, John, who is in his 20s. "I know when he calls, it's not out of obligation, but because he really wants to talk to me," says Russell.
As she negotiated with Turner Broadcasting last winter -- the five-year contract she negotiated for herself is the longest she's ever had -- Russell entertained other offers. They included a talk show and a sitcom based on her life. Asked if she had any acting experience, she says, "Only my first marriage, and that was more tragedy than comedy."
The sitcom idea is still floating around Hollywood, perhaps owing to the success of "Dave's World," the CBS show based on the life of Miami Herald columnist Dave Barry. A show, by the way, that Russell knew nothing about.
"That's the trouble with working nights," she says. "You never get to watch TV."
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