by MORRIE GELMAN
What comes to mind first when remembering Bob Chandler is his covering stories without taking notes. But what I remember best is something he said to me during a long car trip back from Bucks County, Pa.
Bob was at Variety. I was competing against him at Broadcasting Advertising Magazine in New York. Sometimes our paths crossed. We covered the same event. I took notes assiduously. Bob listened intently. He took no notes.
His stories were just as accurate as mine. Many times they were more savvy. I respected his reporting. When MGM hired him as TV publicity director, I was appalled.
Soon after this transition, Bob called me. He knew Broadcast Advertising was one of my beats. He wanted me to interview George Gould of NTA Telestudios. NTA was funded by and became part of MGM. Gould ran the company and also founded another called Teletronics. Bob wanted me talk to Gould about the new use of videotape as a commercial production tool.
We had to go to Bucks County for the interview. That’s where Gould was doing a commercial shoot. Bob drove. I gave him a hard time all the way.?”How could you, a terrific reporter, become a flack?” I chided him. Bob took it in stride.
“Wait until you meet Gould and see his operation,” was his response to my challenge. “I think you’ll be impressed.”
Gould told me the use of videotape had doubled over the previous year. He assured me it was the wave of the future.
A mansion had been rented for the shoot. There were lots of in-front and behind-the-camera people there. Some were in bathing suits jumping in and out of an impressive pool. It was a scene to corrupt even a virtuous reporter. I didn’t need any corrupting. It was a solid story. Videotape for use in commercial production obviously was a solid new way to go. Gould was a valid pioneer in its use.
On the way home, Bob told me about another one of his publicity projects. “We’re doing a TV version of ‘Dr. Kildare'”, he told me. ?”Who’s playing Kildare?” I wanted to know.
Bob, usually someone who I would describe as phlegmatic, became excited. “We have a sensational young actor named Richard Chamberlain,” he said. “You never heard of him. He’s done a couple of guest shots. You’re going to hear a lot about him in the future.”
So it was. Richard Chamberlain became an overnight star, a TV hearttrob. ?Chandler cited Chamberlain and Gould. “See,” he said, “I don’t try to sell things if I don’t believe in them.” He made clear to me it was how he could reconcile a reporter switching to publicity. His parting words to me were: “Only sell what you believe in.”
There’s no dramatic punch line. Bob joined CBS News. I moved to the West Coast. CBS News was never part of any of my beats. That was New York territory.
I only saw Bob at conventions or affiliate meetings. We nodded to each other. We never even had another conversation.
But I remember Bob and our Buck County drive. I’ve told my two sons and my grandson what Bob told me: “Only go after the things you really believe in. Don’t sell unless you believe. Don’t sell yourself if you don’t believe in yourself.”
Thanks for the pragmatism and memory, Bob.