That Thing That She Does:
Television producer/reporter/writer; currently Executive Producer of Adventure Divas.
When leisure suit clad Jeannie Morris climbed on a crate and shoved a microphone several feet up into the face of Wilt Chamberlain, that was just the beginning of a long career full of unusual, and sometimes daring, media images.
Jeannie may not be saving street kids in Calcutta or strapping herself to old growth trunks, but in her 30-plus years in the biz, Morris has lassoed some of the world’s most powerful media, and in doing so, championed causes and individuals alike.
Morris grew up in southern California, the daughter of a school principal with unpopular socialist tendencies, and a spit-fire mother who lambasted political conservatives with aplomb.
After a domesic stint popping out four kids, Jeannie shifted energies to the public sphere. As a sports reporter, she was always a step ahead of Title 9, fighting for greater coverage of women in sports while she worked for the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun Times and CBS. In 1971 she wrote a bestselling sports biography Brian Piccolo: A Short Season, the story of the Chicago Bear football player who died of cancer at 26. The story was later made into the t.v. movie ‘Brian’s Song.’
With her uncanny ability to simultaneously massage and dismantle egos, Jeannie took on CBS television (where she was both the first woman in the locker-room, and the first to report live from the Superbowl), the NFL (when the late George Halas pissed her off), the pharmaceutical industry and the federal government (in the TBS documentary RU-486: the Politics of Abortion), and the horse racing mafia (when her investigative reporting uncovered a horse-drugging ring).
Jeannie is 5’2”.
And, she can grow a mean tomato.
But this ain’t no obit. Jeannie carries on…
Three years ago, at the age of 63, Jeannie climbed Mt. Aconcogua with a group of breast cancer survivors and, from that, produced the award-winning PBS documentary ‘Expedition Inspiration.’
She has a satchel full of Emmys, but perhaps her most important legacy rests with the many women she influences and mentors along the way. She offers sage, unpatronizing and unconditional support as they — we — tramp through the splinters of barriers knocked down by the fightin’ ladies who came before us in this dog-eat-dog media industry.
“Jeannie can mix it up in every which way,” says colleague Katie Dreke, “politically, creatively — and in terms of a mean martini… all the while using great vintage metaphors.”
We tip our tiaras to the mother of all divas, and Adventure Divas’ tireless Executive Producer — Jeannie Morris.
Word from Jeannie:
What’s your next step?
“I want to continue to look for opportunities to keep Divas thriving, learn html, and how to administer a website… I plan to pursue a documentary project for which I did the groundwork several years ago. I also have a fiction project I may get back to.”
That’s the work part.
“I also want to travel, especially to Asia and Russia. See more of my family. Hike. Keep my body fit, my mind sharp and my spirit free — as I enter the autumn of the winter of my life.”
How do you shake off a bad day?
“I think really hard about whatever happened and what went wrong and, in particular, what I did wrong — the part I control, how I could make a better decision or behave more productively, in the future. I also think about whether anything that went wrong can actually be corrected and, if so, make a plan to take action. Then I say NEXT and move on. I learned that part from Barry Diller via Linda Obst. She contended that successful MEN (the context was Hollywood) can fuck up bigtime and don’t give a rats-ass, they just declare victory and move on and the fawning crowd says ‘Wow! He’s good!’”
Favorite mode of travel?
“By foot. Or a good old-fashioned automobile road trip.”
The Washington Post reported Wilt’s claim to have done the wild thing with 20,000 women. Were you among them? Is that how you got the story?
Seattle, Washington & Sundance, Utah
Divas du Jour
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