Correspondent: Forrest Sawyer.
Correspondent: Forrest Sawyer.Preem of ABC newsmagazine, hyped as fresh and innovative, is in fact stale and superficial, a watered-down version of “Hard Copy” with none of the classy reporting of “60 Minutes.” Most of debut features rehash of much-publicized Alberto Gonzales case, in which a Portland, Ore., man was charged with attempted murder for infecting his lovers with the AIDS virus. While anchor Forrest Sawyer promises an expose of this “explosive case” that will “rewrite criminal law,” most of the show is consumed with accusations hurled back and forth between the principals in the case, focusing on when Gonzales knew that he had the AIDS virus. While moving testimony from Gonzales’ infected lovers and their families provides an airing of the suffering that AIDS causes and of the widespread danger, especially among young people, program offers little insight into the social dynamics of this epidemic. The Gonzales case is portrayed here in simplistic, moralistic terms, with little attempt to explain his pathological behavior. In fact, a friend of both Gonzales and one of the infected victims says that “he was a good guy, a funny guy.” Although some of the interviews refer to Gonzales’ “womanizing,” there is no attempt to understand his compulsions, or any acknowledgement that there are probably many like Alberto Gonzales who, whether they know it or not, are walking time bombs. And there is no mention of the important treatment programs for sexual addiction or of education programs for potential victims of people like Gonzales. Future segments on sex abuse, illegal trafficking in babies and plight of rape victims suggest continuation of exploitative tone that is set by debut episode. It is a sad commentary on the network news business that a number of distinguished journalists have been lured away from substantive beats to churn out this kind of fluff. Why not leave this to “Hard Copy” and “Inside Edition”? They do it better, anyway. Final irony is short segment on TV series that flunked their debuts and were quickly pulled from the air or radically restructured. Maybe this is an awkward attempt to deflect criticism from the outset.
(Sun. (7), 8-9 p.m., ABC)
Taped in New York by ABC News. Executive producer, Tom Yellin; senior broadcast producer, Stuart Schwartz; senior producer, Mark Obenhaus; supervising producer, Craig Leake; producer, Carrie Cook; director, Roger Goodman; writer, Ed Fields; lighting director, Dennis Size.