Ira Rosen, producer of 60 Minutes for almost 25 years and author of Ticking Clock: Behind the Scenes at 60 minutes, stopped by to hang out in the 7:40 Celebrity Lounge this morning with Glenn Kalina to talk about his experiences with the legendary 60 Minutes reporter, Mike Wallace, and dove into what the environment really was behind the scenes at 60 minutes.
“There’s no way in hell they should have ever hired me”
Rosen was just 26 years old when he got the job working for Mike Wallace at 60 Minutes, something that happened in the industry very rarely, if not ever. Rosen attributed the attention he received from the show to a report he did on a local news market about how easy it was to get a hold of military secrets.
Donald Hewitt, creator of 60 Minutes was shown the story, and decided to give Rosen a call at his parents house, where he lived at the time.
“I’d like to see if your son would be interested in being a producer on 60 Minutes,” Don told Rosen’s Mother. “Oh, no, he’s not interested, he’s got a job already.”
Immediately, Rosen called Don back and after a short, friendly discussion, Rosen set up an interview with the show, which he would then end up being paired with Wallace.
Rosen then described how that day in the office that he was there for the interview was ‘insane’. He then met with Mike Wallace:
“I know what I could do for you, what could you do for me?” Wallace said, questioning Rosen.
Rosen said he saw a tennis ball sitting in Wallace’s office and replied: “You play tennis?” I was on the Tennis Team”
That was the answer that got Rosen the job.
Rosen then explained that Wallace later told him he got the job because he could at least get 6 months of tennis out of Rosen before firing him.
Rosen then talked about his relationship and the control that Wallace had inside of the company and the show itself.
The show had fallen on hard times and Rosen wanted to work with Diane Sawyer…
“Basically, Mike said ‘You aren’t going anywhere, go back to your office.’ And he had the clout and the power to basically do that…” Rosen explained about the situation with Wallace, “... It was only when I got a job at ABC at Primetime live and only when the job entailed being the supervisor of his son, that I was able to escape.”
The New York Times had previously released a story about the toxic environment within 60 minutes. Rosen said that was a ‘headline’ that he doesn’t subscribe to and that it was just a hard period of time for a lot of the people that worked there.
What does Ira Rosen think of 60 Minutes now?
“It’s more of a current affairs kind of program, and I think they are responding to people’s interests and what’s going on in the world,” Rosen described his opinion of the show. “I understand what they are doing. Part of me misses the old story telling.”
Check out the full interview with Ira Johnson above!
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