'Eye to Eye' devotes an hour to rehashing tidbits about Diana

November 24, 1994|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,Sun Television Critic

You might not have noticed it, but Princess Diana has been in self-imposed exile for the last year. It would be frightening to think what the results would be if she were actually looking for media attention.

The "news" of Di in exile comes to us from CBS, which is airing an hourlong special on the Princess of Wales on "Eye to Eye with Connie Chung," at 10 tonight on WBAL (Channel 11).

Only three of the five segments were made available for preview. The other big news in those three segments is that the princess is on Prozac. Oh, you already knew that, too. OK, never mind.

Bet you don't know why the princess is on Prozac, though. CBS tells us that the anti-depressant drug helps her fight bulimia, which, if you don't already know, is the practice of gorging down food and then throwing it up. A cynical person might wonder why the world's most famous bulimic is being profiled in this rather breathless fashion on Thanksgiving.

The segments made available for preview reveal more about the state of CBS News these days than they do the Princess of Wales.

CBS News has opened its checkbook for this magazine show, hiring Andrew Morton as a "consultant" for the profile. That means CBS paid him to appear on the show and drop tidbits from his new book, "Diana: Her New Life," that, happy coincidence, is just being published.

And every nano-bit of gossip is swallowed whole without any checking by CBS News. Item 1: Diana told a "source" that the worst moment of her life was walking down the aisle with Charles. Item 2: Diana began seeing an astrologer. The astrologer is interviewed in this report to find out if there is any "light at the end of the tunnel" for Diana.

The lowest moments of the lowly hour come during a very long interview with a European hairdresser who "rescued" the princess at a tennis ranch. The media had descended on Di, and the hairdresser gave her a lift to a hotel. For this kind of journalism, that makes the hairdresser an expert on the princess and worthy of several minutes on screen.

Every photographer with a zoom lens or access to a helicopter gets his or her photos displayed here. You will see a lot of Diana's backside getting into cars, getting out of cars, --ing into a restaurant and, yes, horror of horrors, speeding away from a tennis ranch.

Almost all of the film was originally shot or bought by British journalists for a TV special on the princess that aired in Britain. Most of the "news gathering" by CBS for this report involves buying those pictures and interviewing the producers of the British special.

In the end, the content of the segments made available to critics is mainly the same hash served up by People magazine a week ago when it excerpted the book of that sudden addition to the stable of CBS News, the consultant named Morton.

The only noteworthy thing about this edition of "Eye to Eye" is that it looks as if it might just set a network newsmagazine record for the amount of trivial information revealed and the number of named sources willing to go on record with it. By my count, one -- the astrologer.

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