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Art Imitating Life Imitating News

Why L.A. newscasters make great plot devices

August 06, 2000|CRAIG TOMASHOFF

This land of illusion often seems like a great hall of mirrors, but never more so than when familiar faces from L.A.-area newscasts turn up playing fictional newscasters in feature-length films.

The list seems endless. KTLA's morning anchor Barbara Beck popped up in "Independence Day," while her morning partner, Carlos Amezcua, made his way into episodes of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Seventh Heaven." KABC's Rob Fukuzaki showed up in "Godzilla," and evening anchor Harold Greene plays himself in the current release "The Kid." A host of locals, including KCAL's Kerry Kilbride, delivered the news in "Volcano." KTTV's Tony McEwing can be found in "Big Momma's House," while the station's evening weather anchor, Mark Thompson, had a role in "Air Force One." KCBS' morning team of brothers Ben and Butch McCain, currently on hiatus, has appeared in shows such as "Martial Law" and "Lois and Clark." And it's apparently no coincidence that Kent Brockman, the recurring news anchor on "The Simpsons," looks a lot like local broadcast legend Jerry Dunphy.

"Los Angeles newspeople do have a certain touched-by-Hollywood quality," explains director John Herzfeld, a self-confessed TV news junkie whose next film, "15 Minutes," is about the media and features two locals, KCAL's Sylvia Lopez and Jane Velez-Mitchell. "They're a little more glamorous, with a little more of an attractive personality. New York anchors have a little harder edge to them."

Veteran casting director Mindy Marin adds that, while this town is crawling with actors who could play the part of a newscaster, "there's such a specific way to speak, certain inflections to use and a particular way to look, and actors can't often get that." So where will this all lead? "Don't worry," laughs KTLA nighttime anchor, Hal Fishman, who has worked in a dozen movies, from "Black Sunday" to David Spade's upcoming "The Adventures of Joe Dirt," "I'm not preparing an Oscar speech."

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Name: Rick Garcia

Station: KTTV

Recent release: "Shadow of Doubt"

Big-name co-star: Melanie Griffith

Character name: "News anchor"

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Name: Terry Anzur

Station: KTLA

Recent release: "The Perfect Storm"

Big-name co-star: George Clooney

Character name: "Anchor"

*

Name: Jillian Barberie

Station: KTTV

Recurring role: "V.I.P" (TV series)

Big-name co-star: Pamela Anderson

Character name: "Foxy Levin" (She works at Fox 11. Get it?)

*

Name: Sam Rubin

Station: KTLA

Coming attraction: "Bette!" (CBS sitcom)

Big-name co-star: Bette Midler

Character name: "Sam Rubin"

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