Bob Knight, 72, who became one of the most influential TV reporters and reviewers in the country during his 20 years as a correspondent with Variety, died Monday in New York of a heart attack.
Knight was one of the first reporters to write regular pieces analyzing the ratings of the primetime series of ABC, CBS and NBC. His no-ax-to-grind reporting and mastery of Nielsen arcana made him such a fixture on the broadcast-rating beat that in the late ’70s and throughout the ’80s the networks informally relied on Knight to fix the September start date for the official primetime season.
Born in New York City in 1920, Knight served in the Army during World War II and got a degree in literature from the U. of Miami in Oxford, Ohio, in 1950. Until Variety hired him in 1969 as a full-time reporter based in New York, Knight lived and worked in Cincinnati. In the 1950s and ’60s, he wrote many free-lance articles about movies, jazz and television. He was a disc jockey specializing in jazz for local radio stations, and was Variety’s stringer in Cincinnati.
Knight took over the programming beat for Variety in New York and began writing more detailed interpretations of the ratings than any reporter had ever attempted on a regular basis. He drew up his own unique charts, full of all sorts of cross-referencing that allowed him to get an instant read on which shows were up in the Nielsens and which down.
Variety drew on Knight’s expertise to publish a number of yearly charts, the most important of which were seasonal rankings of network primetime programming by categories, such as regularly scheduled series, made-for-TV movies and one-shot specials.
Knight, whose real name was Robert Honold, wrote innumerable reviews during his tenure at Variety that were known in the trade for their acute understanding of how a TV show is put together. He was also a contributing editor of Les Brown’s “Encyclopedia of Television.”
Survived by his wife, Miriam.
Edwina Lewis, 42, actress who appeared in many Broadway, Off Broadway and touring productions, died Aug. 24 in Augusta, Mich., of a heart attack.
Lewis was in Augusta performing in “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” at the Barn Theater in a production she also directed.
She last appeared on Broadway in “A Streetcar Named Desire,” with Jessica Lange and Alec Baldwin. She was also featured in the Lincoln Center production of “Mule Bone”; a revival of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” with Kathleen Turner, Charles Durning and Polly Holliday; and played the role of Jewel in “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” for three years.
Off Broadway, Lewis appeared in the original company of “Nunsense” and recorded the soundtrack for the show as well. Other credits include the Washington, D.C., production of “Godspell,” and the national touring companies of “Jesus Christ Superstar,””Show Boat,””I Love New York” and “Dreamgirls.”
Lewis also performed with various regional theater groups, including the Long Wharf Theater, Cleveland Playhouse, Goodspeed Opera House, Fords Theater and many others.
She recently performed her own cabaret act at Eighty Eights in New York. She also appeared in the TV series “Law and Order.”