Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Susan Zirinsky: A Lifetime of Achievement

Tonight in Las Vegas, Susan Zirinsky will be honored with the "2013 TV & Film Lifetime Achievement Award" by the New York Festivals.  In her 40 years at CBS News, Susan is a legend in the industry.  She is currently the Senior Executive Producer of 48 Hours, she produces prime time news specials, see oversees the website Crimesider, and she has developed a new prime time series, Brooklyn DA, which will premier in May.

Susan has covered wars, presidents, world leaders, summits, elections, uprisings and scandals.  She has produced news packages, newsmagazines and documentaries.  She also served as a role model for Academy Award winning actress Holly Hunter, who played news producer Jane Craig in the 1987 movie, Broadcast News.  Susan's shelf is stuffed with industry awards.  But what is most noteworthy is what those who have worked with Susan say about her. 

CBS CEO Les Moonves: “There is simply no one better in any business than Susan. She’s the consummate pro whose instincts and artistry are unerring and completely unique, and there’s just nobody who is more competitive than she is. For decades, she has simply been the go-to storyteller than we have turned to, over and over again, when there was an important project, something that had to be told. When we needed to capture the truth about 9/11, it was Susan who got us there with her award-winning and deeply moving account of that day. Every week, she gives us the top show on Saturday night, keeping the flame burning bright on one of our most highly regarded franchises – 48 Hours. She’s been doing it for a long time. And she just keeps on getting better and better. Today, she’s at the top of a really tough and crucial game, one of the people leading the regeneration of CBS News. Congratulations, Z, on this honor. We love you too.”

CBS News Correspondent Bob Schieffer: "I have known Susan since when she was a student at American University who was working part time for the weekend news in the CBS Washington bureau. She was one of those kids that you knew was going to rise to the top. The best part of watching her grow up is seeing how she still attacks her job and attack is the right word with the same enthusiasm and determination and grit that she showed back then. She always got to the office first and is still the last to leave. I love everything about her and have for a long, long time."

60 Minutes Correspondent Lesley Stahl: "Congrats to Susan Zirinsky, the maven of Meeting a Deadline.. The Queen of the Crash! In Zee's lifetime in journalism she's been at the top of her game from the beginning - which was in the '70s during Watergate.  Whether she was producing pieces or broadcasts, covering the White House, elections or crime stories, she managed to be a master.  And she's done it all with heart and good cheer.  And against all odds, she always made the deadline, whether that meant ordering up her own Air force of helicopters or just making her reporters better and faster than they thought they could be. How lucky I am, and CBS is, that Susan's been our colleague and friend."

Vogue Editor Anna Wintour: "When I worked with Susan, we were staging a global project with so many moving parts that to us it felt like a military operation.  Now, throughout her career Susan has produced segments on actual military operations.  But she brought the same remarkable focus, levelheadedness and sense of humor to what we were doing as I imagine she brings to everything she does."

Actress Holly Hunter: "It was an extraordinary advantage for me to get to tail Susan Zirinsky around the CBS newsroom in Washington to prepare for the role of "Jane Craig" in BROADCAST NEWS.  I was given carte blanche to steal all behavior, professional and otherwise, from her. I ripped off the unselfconscious intimacy she gave to co-workers---putting her hand on the shoulder of a guy as she was making a suggestion to him---or giving someone's arm a squeeze as she breezed by.  I just loved that.  And I thought it was a beautiful gesture to bring to an environment filled with nothing but deadlines.  I stole her hairdo---scaled her height and took that, too.   I mimicked her feist, but that was easy since I have some of my own.  I tried like crazy to capture her imaginative ability to take divergent parts of a story and intuitively contain them with an image that was previously unrelated but that  made manifest the heart of the story. The one thing I could not steal from her, though, was her calm.  Susan was a still point in a turning world at CBS, as far as I was concerned.  She never raised her voice.  She never ran. She made her producorial rounds with her wit and intellect blazing, but also while brandishing a good deal of laissez faire.  She had faith in her fellow man.  And woman.  Even under pressure, she always looked like she was definitely Not Sweating, which made her more attractive to all the people who were.  Because they knew, under the calm and encouragement, she was obsessed.  That's leadership."

Former CBS News colleague and Sony Chairman Sir Howard Stringer:  "Even actress Holly Hunter in the seminal movie “Broadcast News” could not match the intensity, the skills or the breadth of commitment of the extraordinary Susan Zirinsky.  As a producer she is fearless; as a colleague she is peerless; as a leader she is matchless, but as a friend she is irreplaceable.  When she clambered over a moving freight train to get her tapes to a ground station before the competition, she became a news icon who really did capture hearts and minds. She captured mine long ago!"

Well she captured my heart and mind long ago as well, because she is simply the most amazing woman I have ever known.  


Anonymous said...

Wow-- well deserved honor. Thanks for posting all the comments from colleagues, and the final words of love from you!

Gay Dunlap said...

Proud to know you and happy that you are part of my family! Congratulations, Susan!