I’d been sitting in David Westin’s office yesterday for about 10 minutes – I’d been invited by for an informal chat – when I saw a familiar face at the ABC News president’s door. “How you doing?” asked Bob Woodruff. “You going back to Michigan for the holidays? I’m staying put.”
Momentarily speechless–in part from choking up– yet grinning like a kid on Christmas morning, I managed to say hello. Almost a year since Woodruff and his cameraman Doug Vogt nearly lost their lives covering the Iraq War and there was the ABC newsman, who grew up near me in Detroit, looking and sounding great.
Six of the seven monitors (the seventh was tuned to ESPN) in Westin’s office had President Bush’s press conference on live. We all chatted about Bush’s strategy going forward and how he was handling the questions from the press corp. I was still in a state of disbelief. There was Woodruff, engaged as ever, and happy to be talking shop. At times during our short conversation he seemed to struggle for a second to find the right word or phrase, like somebody with a little jet lag. But make no mistake – this was Woody. The little scarring on the side of his face only gave more character to his matinee idol good looks. He was truly same as he ever was: smart, funny and charming.
After the press conference, we talked for a minute about the primetime special that he’s prepping in conjunction with the memoir he’s writing with his wife, Lee. It's about the ordeal he and his loved ones went through coping with the injuries, including severe trauma to his brain, which nearly took his life.
Before Woodruff left, he chatted for a moment about B&C’s West Coast Bureau chief Ben Grossman. The ABC Newsman knew him from when they used to play soccer together a few years ago when Ben was working at TV Guide and lived on the East Coast. I asked Woody if he was feeling good enough to start playing soccer. “Those days are over,” he said. “I promised Lee. Only tennis with that little ball that won’t do too much damage if it hits you in the head."
Believe it–seeing Woodruff doing so well was one terrific holiday gift.
By J. Max Robins