CBS News employees on Friday will celebrate the life of longtime CBS News producer Alan Weisman, who died last Thursday of natural causes. He was 68.
"Alan Weisman was a brilliant writer and sophisticated storyteller. He was also a brutally honest and funny colleague," said Bill Owens, 60 Minutes' executive producer. "I have never met anyone prouder to have worked at CBS and 60 Minutes."
In 1979 Weisman joined the staff of the "CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite," and in 1983, he started producing for 60 Minutes, where he became better known as "Sparky."
A talented writer in his own right, Weisman collaborated with 60 Minutes wordsmith and correspondent Morley Safer. Together they produced several memorable stories, including a profile of "The Great One," Jackie Gleason. Weisman filmed the interview around a pool table he had rented for the shoot, allowing Safer and Gleason to trade jibes as they traded shots.
In the interview, which is excerpted in the clip above, Gleason was relaxed and forthcoming, telling Safer that he once negotiated an $11 million salary by falling asleep at lunch.
Safer credited Weisman for the unforgettable interview. In a 2010 conversation with 60 Minutes Overtime, Safer explained that Weisman had thought of conducting the interview at a bar with a pool table nearby.
"And it was that atmosphere that put both Mr. Gleason and myself at ease," Safer said. "And it really worked. And it was a conversation. Well, the best interviews are."