Paul and Holly Fine, the husband-wife filmmaking team that has produced the most acclaimed, successful and award-collecting documentaries ever seen on local television in Washington, have been hired by CBS News. The Fines said yesterday that as of Aug. 16 they will be contributing to the CBS News broadcasts "60 Minutes" and "CBS Reports."
For 12 years, the Fines' distinctive and compassionate journalism has appeared locally on WJLA-TV and won the station a trophy case full of prizes. In March, they produced "The Saving of the President," a dramatic reenactment of life-saving efforts at the George Washington University Medical Center during the hours following the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan, and ABC made the extraordinary move of picking up the film for national broadcast on its news magazine "20/20" the same week it aired in Washington.
ABC News subsequently made offers to the Fines to join that network and work on pieces for "20/20" and "ABC News Closeup," but the more-prestigious CBS News soon entered the bidding. Holly Fine, 34, who edits the team's work, said yesterday, "It's a class operation. I'm delighted to work for them. We can learn from them and they can learn from us."
Paul Fine, 36, the director and cinematographer, praised Tom Cookerley, station manager at WJLA. "It's been a fight to do the things we do, and he's been a great supporter," Fine said. Both Fines expressed regret at parting with their soundman of 12 years, Clyde Roller, who will remain with the station.
The move--which will allow the Fines to continue to work out of Washington--is not made without some hesitation. "You know how many people have told us they'll destroy us at the network? Hundreds," Paul Fine said. "All we can do is go there and hope it's going to stay the same." Andrew Lack, executive producer of CBS Reports, told that the Fines had been warned their individuality might be corrupted at CBS, said yesterday, "Nonsense. They'll find out soon enough that isn't true."
Earlier this year, the Fines received a citation at the Du Pont-Columbia University Broadcast Journalism awards for their 1981 documentary on hospice care for the terminally ill, "Until We Say Goodbye." Their most recent award was from the Associated Press for the Fines' impressionistic one-hour film "Harvesters of the Chesapeake." Lack said it was the Reagan program that brought the Fines to his attention. "I was extraordinarily impressed with that piece of work," he said. "They're first-rate."