November 17, 2005

Journalism stars toast Koppel

By Paul J. Gough

WASHINGTON (Hollywood Reporter) - Less than a week before
he departs the airwaves, "Nightline" host Ted Koppel celebrated
his 42 years at ABC News Wednesday with a party attended by
several hundred colleagues, rivals and family members.

Among the attendees at the Kennedy Center for the
Performing Arts were Barbara Walters, Dan Rather, Tim Russert,
Charlie Gibson, new "Nightline" co-anchor Cynthia McFadden,
former Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee, Gwen
Ifill, Bob Schieffer, Sam Donaldson, Bob Woodruff and Chris
Bury, as well as Peter Jennings' widow, Kaycee Freed.

In a bow to speculation as to whether the new "Nightline"
will be as good as the old, Koppel read from a negative review
that appeared in the Washington Post the day after the first
broadcast of "Nightline" in 1980. Koppel then read an article
from the same writer from about 10 months later, which called
"Nightline" smart and classy.

"I don't know if everyone will give you a fair amount of
time, but I promise you I will," Koppel said.

While the party was convened to celebrate Koppel's career,
Koppel recognized his wife, Grace Anne, whom he said endured,
among other things, 11 moves in his first eight years of ABC

"She's always been by my side when I needed her," said
Koppel. "I have not always been there for her and the children
when they needed me." Yet Walters noted that Koppel took a year
off to raise his children while his wife went to law school.

"I admire the way he lives his life," Walters said. Koppel
spent much of the night within arm's reach of his

Koppel thanked ABC News president David Westin for his
commitment to making sure that it would be Koppel's show all
the way to the end of his term, which ends November 22.

"You have lived up to every syllable of that commitment and
I thank you," Koppel said.

Former CBS News anchor Rather, for his part, said he "would
have walked on my knees to get here," on a wind-swept rainy
night in the rooftop restaurant of the Kennedy Center along the
Potomac River.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter