It was a fitting tribute to the television giant and the 60-minute memorial service for Executive Producer Gerald Stone to be a hit production at TCN Studio 22 in Willoughby where it all began.
There were lights, cameras, and an all-star cast to remember the man who led the groundbreaking current events show from « The Flop » to the main watch every Sunday night at 7 o’clock.. 30 m.
The original journalists’ group was reunited (now with a little gray hair) in the form of Ian Leslie as the presenter, Ray Martin, Jana Wendt, and albeit with the video, George Negus.
Former 60 Minutes reporters Ian Leslie, Jana Wendt and Ray Martin after the memorial service for former 60 Minutes executive producer Gerald Stone Credit: Dominic Lorimer
Gerald Stone was born in Ohio and had an early interest in journalism when he was six years old absorbing WWII reports on family radio. His first job was in 1957 as a copy boy for the New York Times, but in 1962, in the shadow of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Stone family got an auxiliary passage to Australia’s safer beaches..
Image from Gerald Stone’s « Compulsive Observation: The Inside Story of the Packer Nine Network ».
(Left to right): Gerald Stone in 1979 with his original « 60 Minutes » team, Ray Martin, Ian Leslie and George Negus. Background wisdom is in Melbourne, not Paris.
Next in his career was The Daily Mirror covering the Vietnam War as a reporter. He was a reporter for This Day Tonight and documentary producer on ABC, then news director for Nine Network.
Journalist Ray Martin speaks at the memorial service for 60-minute former executive producer Gerald Stone. Credit: Dominic Lorimer
In 1978 Keri Packer called him into his office due to what journalist Ian Leslie said was « an internal check-up without anesthetic » to give him a job as executive producer for Pioneer 60 minutes..
« He said that Kerry’s decree was: » I never give something that it takes, just do it and get it right. « Keri found the right man, » Leslie said. « That pull was as tough as nails, and steel ran through his veins. ».
Journalist George Negus speaks via video link at the memorial service for 60-minute former Executive Producer Gerald Stone Credit: Dominic Lorimer
Journalist Ray Martin told 50 or so attendees under COVID-19 restrictions that Stone took 60 minutes ahead to become one of the most important films in current affairs that would change the rules.
“He left nothing in his way, not even Keri Packer. You remember those golden days on television when budgets didn’t seem to really matter, we had those golden days. ».
George Negus said Stone wasn’t just a seasoned media professional, and his judgment of what employees should and should not do was flawless..
« Up to 60 minutes, most of the international coverage for this country was coming almost exclusively from the United States and the United Kingdom, » he said.
Addressing the widow of Stone, Irene in the front row, Mr. Negus added, “I’m not sure if you realize that my father passed away at 26 when I was only four years old.. I’ve never really had a father figure, and I’ve never really had a grandfather either, and so the time I found myself working with Gerald was the closest I felt to being a father..
24-year-old Jana Wendt was the youngest and the only one on a 60-minute block. She told how Stone was driving her to meet Packer at his mansion.
She said, « Gerald took a very big chance from me in the early 1980s. ». « He was crazy and brave enough to gamble on a pretty unknown person, so let’s face it, girl, and I was naive enough to think I’m up to the task.
“We were heading there to get Mr. Packer’s approval for Gerald’s choice. Although I’m pretty sure Gerald was on edge, he didn’t show it. His demeanor was harmonious and balanced and his beautiful dark eyes were alert.
“I, on the other hand, are responsible for his 24-year-old indictment. Knees knock like a cousin of the countryside on their first big city visit, in this case to the Australian TV Network hub. [Gerald] took care of me as he does on many other occasions.
“He was an influencer, someone with this wonderful, instinctive, epic journalistic experience. When dramas of one kind or another appeared, at times it felt as if the world was on fire. In these moments I had the pleasure of watching Gerald, who was in command, made the decisive calls and corrected the ship in what I call the imperial pattern..
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60 Minutes, Gerald Stone, Nine Network, Jana Wendt, Ian Leslie, Ray Martin, George Negus
World News – AU – The original 60 Minutes meet to bid farewell to great TV star Gerald Stone
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