By Bob Nesoff
He has interviewed such luminaries as John F. Kennedy and such less than sparkling human beings in the person of Yasser Arafat. In between there are perhaps some 30,000 people who have faced PIX11-TV’s Marvin Scott, some with humor and others in a perhaps more confrontational meeting.
Scott is comfortable speaking with a youngster who has a positive human interest story to tell as well as a head of state with critical information that would fulfill the public’s right to know. Marvin Scott has been serving the people of New York for more than 50 years with 35 of them at PIX11. He’s a member of the New York State Broadcaster’s Hall of Fame and the recipient of eleven Emmy Awards for Journalistic Achievement. He’s seen it all and he’s done it all.
As the Senior Correspondent and anchor/host of PIX11’s weekly issue oriented program, PIX11 News Close Up, Marvin may not be running around as much, but he is still on the journalistic front lines.
“Many of the interviews I’ve conducted over the course of my career were interesting in one way or another,” he said. “Some were extraordinary and memorable: Presidents Kennedy, Nixon, Carter, Ford and Bush. There were also Arafat, Sophia Loren and Walter Cronkite.” He won an Emmy (Outstanding Entertainment Programming) for his interview with Jerry Lewis, but considers one of his most memorable interviews to have been with Dr. Martin Luther King.
“It was during a break in a march he was leading through Mississippi and we were sitting on a dirt mound alongside a highway,” Scott remembered. “We were just sitting and chatting and I asked him why he would put his life on the line the way he did.”
“He smiled, looked me in the eye,” he continued, “and said: ‘For the children. For the children.’ I was impressed by the way he articulated his message, the way he dealt with people. He was truly a visionary.”
Meeting with such figures was tempered with his interview of a Holocaust denier.
“I’ve had a good share of interviews you could classify as amongst my least favorite. When the Holocaust Museum opened in Washington, I focused a program on that terrible period in history. I invited the denier to appear on a segment of the broadcast apart from a survivor. He offered no plausible answers for his denial of history.”
“I asked him about Auschwitz being a death camp and he responded: ‘Of course it was because people died there.’ But he blamed the deaths on a disastrous outbreak of typhus. It was a difficult interview indeed.” Scott attributes his amazing longevity in a business not known for longevity to his honesty as a story teller.
“I am a story teller who has told thousands of stories objectively without injecting my own feelings. The love and passion I have for what I do, I believe comes across in my reporting. Even after all these years I am still energized by what I do. Each assignment is a new challenge and no two days are alike.”
Scott smiles and says that amongst his most rewarding experiences have been the five trips to be with soldiers from New York stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan at Christmas time.
“I bring them a taste of New York with bagels, hot dogs and cheesecake and then I put them on live TV to speak with their families half a world away. Bringing a smile to the face of a soldier and hearing them say ‘thank you. You’ve made a difference for my Christmas,’ are moments I will always treasure.”
Marvin Scott has earned and held the respect of his peers. Rich Graziano, PIX11 president and general manager, said: “Marvin has earned his reputation for being honest, passionate and able to get to the essence of a story.”
Amy Waldron, PIX11’s news director commented: “Marvin has had a strong presence on the streets of New York for half a century. Name a story and he’s covered it, from the Beatles first visit to the United States to every local, state and national political election, Marvin Scott was there, front and centerdoing what he does best. He’s a staple in New York television and an asset to the PIX11 news team.”
The station’s former news director, Mark Effron lauded Scott: “In a city of icons Marvin stands at the top of the pack. He knows everybody, has covered everything and approaches every story with tenacity, energy, a sense of competitiveness and above all, heart.”
With it all Marvin Scott is a devoted family man. He gushes about daughter, Jill Urban, who has chosen to follow in his career path and is a reporter for New York 1. He thoroughly enjoyed it when both he and Jill ended up covering the same story and jointly interviewing a soldier who had just returned from Iraq.
“I was so proud I just stood there with the microphone and let her ask all the questions.”
Son Steven Scott has chosen a different path. He’s opted for the spotlight as a comedian and is currently working on a television pilot.
Marvin gives special kudos to his wife. Lorri. “I am energized by Lorri’s support to have a wife who is my chief critic and cheerleader. I am uplifted encouragement and understanding, particularly when a news assignment interrupts social or family plans or when I am suddenly off to a war zone during the holidays.”
Marvin is one of only three people to have been presented with the Terry Anderson Award for Professionalism in Journalism. The award was named for the Associated Press correspondent who was held captive by militants in Lebanon for eight years. His list of honors is simply too long to list in detail. Among the honors, the Bronx native was installed in the Bronx Walk of Fame and has a street in his name on the Grand Concourse. He is a recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor for Distinguished Americans and in 2001 was inducted into the Silver Circle of the New York Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
Marvin covered the end of the Cold War, the JFK assassination, Iranian hostage crisis, the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster and the infamous attacks on 9/11. He received honors for his coverage of the crash of TWA Flight 800.
Then Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer declared a “Marvin Scott Day” in Manhattan to commemorate his 50th year in broadcasting.
“That was quite an honor for a kid from The Bronx, who at the age of 14, chased fire engines and celebrities with a camera and then sold pictures to local newspapers and magazines.”
It would take a book to list all of the stories Marvin Scott has covered and the accolades heaped on him by an admiring and appreciative public.
But the greatest honor he has is the knowledge that he is doing his job in a way that has earned him the respect of both public and professional peers.