SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif — The News 8 archive is brimming with star power! Hollywood is just up the road, so we’ve had great access to megawatt celebrities. In this collection -- movie and television actors and one of the most iconic authors in modern history.
Theodor Geisel aka Dr. Seuss 1986
In May 1986 Dr. Seuss From Then to Now exhibit premiered at the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park. It was the first time in 60 years Geisel allowed a retrospective of his work to be displayed. In addition to featuring his 45 books, work from his early careers in advertising and as a political cartoonist, were on display. “Why is humor so important? Without humor we’d have nothing” he told News 8’s Lorraine Kimel. Indeed, without his books, there would be a great void in literature. He said he didn’t know how he came up with the characters in his books. No explanation for the Grinch, Horton, Sam-I-Am, Thing One…chalk it up to a brilliant mind. He called La Jolla home from 1951 until his death in 1991.
When I was told I was going to see the Cat in the Hat at Balboa Park, I thought.... sounds fun. Not having children at the time, Dr. Seuss wasn’t really on my radar. But when we drove up and saw that huge cat in the hat on top of the building.... it was impressive. Dr. Seuss was a quiet man and I found out why when I tried to interview him. Footnote: my nephew has a “cat in the hat copy”: To Philip: Dr. Seuss.
Paul Newman at Riverside International Raceway 1987
A dream came true for reporter Lorraine Kimel when she interviewed legendary actor Paul Newman, fresh from winning the Academy Award for best actor for 1986’s The Color of Money. She explains how she was able to pull off this reporting coup in April 1987.
When I was reporting, the only person I was desperate to meet was Paul Newman. One night, I was watching the TV news from Los Angeles and heard that Paul Newman was racing at Riverside International Raceway. Our news director Jim Holtzman said go and see if you can get him to agree to an interview. Paul Newman was notorious for not doing TV interviews, so I knew we’d be really lucky if he said yes. My cameraman, Charlie Landon and I found the paddock where Newman‘s car was and suddenly he was there! I sidled up his group and he looked at me, at which point I asked if he’d consider a brief interview with CBS San Diego. Without missing a beat, he said yes! I was composed during the interview but for the next two days, I felt like I was walking on air!!!!
Racing was a big part of his life then. He told Lorraine: “I think at this stage of my life it’s probably more important (racing). And there are not that many films to do and there are a lot of good cars to drive.” And regarding his no show at The Academy Awards: “I was actually happy I wasn’t there -- it’s a mess -- and I’ve been there enough times to know that… I was at home with my family -- it was terrific.”
Interviews like this are very rare so thank you, Lorraine and Charlie, for taking a chance. Another buried treasure dug up and preserved forever.
Mel Brooks Life Stinks 1991
Comedy legend Mel Brooks sat down with News 8’s George Pennacchio to talk about his film “Life Stinks” in 1991. He played a billionaire who makes a bet with a rival that he has the wits and street smarts to live amongst the homeless for thirty days in Los Angeles. It’s wasn’t all bad as he had a romance with a former Broadway dancer (Lesley Ann Warren) who fell on hard times. George shares his memories of the big day.
Mel Brooks represents the first time a studio invited me to Los Angeles to do interviews for a movie. I was absolutely nervous sitting down to talk with the already legendary Mel Brooks. I shouldn’t have been nervous at all because he made it easy for this somewhat novice, movie-loving reporter to ask my questions with him giving me enough material to do two different stories on that film, “Life Stinks.” The movie was not a hit, but the experience remains a blockbuster memory for me.
That interview was the first of many for entertainment reporter George at News 8.
Meryl Streep in The River Wild
In 1994, The River Wild proved to be a wild ride for legendary 45-year-old actress Meryl Streep. She said she was afraid for her safety almost every day as she did almost all the dangerous river rafting herself. George interviewed her far away from the bright lights of Hollywood. This film junket was on location in Whitefish, Montana.
Farrah Fawcett in Man of the House 1995
In 1995, Farrah Fawcett ventured into the world of comedy in the film Man of the House. She played Chevy Chase’s wife to be. She said it was great to be happy every day instead of being depressed. Her roles in 1980s films The Burning Bed and Extremities were serious and dark, so this was a welcome departure. George told her he fell for her in the 1970s and asked her what the weirdest Farrah product was. She said there was a doll that looked anorexic, weird, ugly and frightening. Everything Farrah wasn’t.
Farrah Fawcett plays in San Diego tennis fundraiser in 1977 plus Burt Bacharach, Desi Arnaz & more
Mel Gibson in Braveheart 1995
Mel Gibson directed, produced and acted in the 1995 blockbuster Braveheart. As brutal as the battle scenes were Mel said there were no major casualties. But George noticed there was a chiropractor in the credits. He knew there would be people with bad necks and twisted ankles so he figured it would be good to have them on the payroll. The film won five Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director.
George Pennacchio left News 8 in 1996 for the bright lights of Hollywood and KABC-TV. He is the entertainment reporter and also hosts the station’s Oscar specials.
Gregory Peck in 1986
In October 1986, News 8's Hal Clement sat down with La Jolla native Eldred Gregory Peck. He was born in 1916 and attended San Diego High School and San Diego State College. Peck was a theater actor in New York City before he became one of the most beloved and respected movie stars of the twentieth century.
In this interview, he discusses his voice, his career choice, the perils of stunt work, the profession of acting, and his years driving a Union Oil truck in San Diego. He said he once knew all the streets in San Diego but by 1986, so many new freeways were added, he wasn't as familiar with his hometown as he once was. In 1947 Peck co-founded The La Jolla Playhouse with Mel Ferrer and Dorothy McGuire.