In the article about the HBO production "Murrow" on page 10 of TV Week, printed in advance, a line is missing from the first paragraph. The quote should read, "I just put down the Time magazine story in which the writer points out that the toughest critics of the film are those who remember the history around it."
ABC was bland. NBC was balanced. HBO was baffled. And CBS was absent.
When a controversial docudrama on CBS journalist Edward R. Murrow that had outraged many at his old network was finally screened last night at a fundraiser for a journalists' organization, everyone did just what was expected.
And of course, the barbs, hurled by such as Dan Rather and Walter Cronkite during the two-month controversy, were still flying.
"CBS is like an oversensitive adolescent," said Hodding Carter from his receiving line perch at the party for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. "CBS is alarmingly paranoid about its image."
Carter, a member of the executive committee of RCFP, clearly disagreed with other members of the Committee's committee who did not want the HBO movie screened, some of them troubled by its portrayal of CBS chairman William S. Paley and former CBS Inc. president Frank Stanton, others by the docudrama genre itself.
While NBC's "American Almanac" producer Ed Fouhy, formerly with CBS, found the subject important, he said the movie "distorted it by compressing and I think oversimplifying and by grossly unfair treatment of Frank Stanton, who is a man of enormous capacity . . . "
Fouhy, another member of the executive committee, voted against showing the movie, but showed up to participate in a postscreening symposium.
Falling somewhere closer to the middle of the spectrum were people like ABC's Steve Bell and NBC's Larry Grossman.
"My reaction is, 'What's all the fuss?' " said Bell. "I did not know any of the principals involved and I would not argue for a minute someone might not have been misrepresented. On the other hand, it was talking about real issues and it's a good intelligent exercise for us all."
NBC News President Grossman began, "I think in the end it showed the strength or weakness of an institution depends on the strength or weakness of its leaders," but he then paused and added, "even if it completely missed the point of who the people were. I think a lot of the points were missed about all the people. That's what's so horrible about docudrama."
By the time the 300 or so guests made it to the National Press Club to actually see the movie, the whole battle had been fought and refought in articles, columns and phone calls.
Among the few people in attendance with any connections to CBS were two men who wrote for the network in the '60s and NBC's Roger Mudd, who left CBS after 20 years in 1981.
"I can see why people at CBS would be offended by it," Mudd said, "because it does not portray the whole heritage in the brightest colors."
The discussion continued into the night, with Carter leading a symposium that a good 50 percent of the audience avoided by slipping out quickly as the final credits rolled. After 15 minutes of talk, the crowd was down to intimate.
The impact of weeks of verbal skirmishes depended on the perspective of the analyst.
NBC commentator and RCFP steering committee member John Chancellor did not attend the fundraiser, but said from New York earlier in the day, "It was a matter in dispute, let's forget the word 'controversy.' Not having seen it, I think the Reporters Committee would have been prudent not to get involved."
But once all were involved, some may have benefited.
"I think in the television business, a lot of press and a lot of attention has a way of bringing an audience to a movie," said HBO Chairman Michael Fuchs of "Murrow," which will air Jan. 19.
Fuchs also said, "It did surprise us it evoked this degree of emotion. The only disadvantage to what's happened is it has distracted people from looking at what the film is really about."
And may or may not, depending on whom you talked to, have hurt the fundraiser.
The $50 tickets were, until just before the event, selling slowly, although Committee executive director Jane Kirtley attributed this to the waning holiday season. HBO, which provided the print of the movie and paid for the shrimp, the crab and the guys in white stirring up individual plates of pasta, also sent out a number of complimentary tickets to people Kirtley laughingly called "captains of industry."
Kirtley would not venture to guess how much the evening would bring in.