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'ABC News Closeup's' documentary blitz

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Pamela Hill, ABC News executive vice-president and executive producer of the 'ABC News Closeup' documentary unit, is a complex combination of talents and tentions.

In a uniquely assertive, yet still retiring, way she is responsibly news-oriented; somewhat inarticulately intelligent (I have seen her shiver and shudder before getting up to make a speech to TV critics . . . but then again, who wouldn't shudder at that?); marvelously receptive to new ideas; and in the long run, one of the most innovative executives in the network news business today.

Dressed for work and interview in what looks like a purple-pink bulky wool peasant tunic which reaches to the top of her gray suede boots (I am wearing a Black Watch tartan jacket and black tasseled loafers, in case my sexism is in question again), if she wore sunglasses on top of her head she would look like the Hollywood version of a fashion-magazine editor. But when she speaks she is definitely a newsperson . . . with strong beliefs about the place of the documentary in television and the need to safeguard it from the encroachment of entertainment values.

This next seven days is probably one of the busiest periods ever for any documentary executive. Three 'ABC News Closeup' documentaries have been scheduled within the span of a single week: "The Shattered Badge" (Saturday, Dec. 27, 10-11 p.m.); "A Matter of Survival" (Thesday, Dec. 30, 10-11 p.m.); and "Invasion" (Thursday, Jan. 1, 9:30-11 p.m.); check local listings for all of these shows.

I have viewed all three in one form or another (finished, nearly finished, unedited), and they constitute a fabulous trilogy, pinpointing the wide varieties of excellence audiences have come to expect from Pamela Hill and her senior producer, Richard Richter, working in conjunction with an extraordinary staff of talented TV-documentary makers. Perhaps one of Miss Hill's greatest talents is her ability to break the outmoded patterns and rules that old-timers in the documentary field believed could never be broken in today's competitive commercial-TV market.


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