Georgetown Village Gets Inside Scoop From ‘60 Minutes’

“We don’t usually do breaking news on ‘60 Minutes,’ rather long form stories that can take weeks or even months or more to prepare,” CBS News “60 Minutes” Executive Producer Bill Owens told a rapt audience at Georgetown Village headquarters on Oct. 11. “But our story last Sunday was too good to miss and we did it in a few days, with Lesley Stahl who flew out to get it on a moment’s notice. Here’s the inside story.”

It was the first in a planned series of personal, deep dive, friendly “Bill Plante conversations” with news makers that Georgetown Village — a service organization at 1801 35th St. NW for 55-plus seniors — will be offering as a regular event.

The series will be planned and moderated by Robin Smith, the documentary film maker and widow of Plante who died last year. She lives in their home on Q Street and was highly active in founding Georgetown Village. Owens has been a close colleague and friend of the Plante family for years.

“Last Saturday,” Owens continued, “we heard about the story of the grandparents who had grabbed their pistols and drove to their kids’ kibbutz that was under fierce attack by Hamas on the border of Gaza on Oct. 7. On the way, they got involved in several skirmishes and detours to take wounded soldiers and young Israelis to the hospital but ended up saving their trapped children. It was a powerful story,” related Owens. (See The Georgetowner story concerning this incident.)

“I called Lesley — who has been a top reporter for  ‘60 Minutes’ for over three decades and had written a book on becoming a joyful grandparent — to see if she was interested. She was on a plane headed to New York from California. “Yes” she said immediately. I’ll get my assistant to grab some clothes for me and meet me at the airport where I can take off for Israel,” Stahl responded.

“She is such an audacious reporter,” said Owens, “that not only did she get a full first-person accounting of the rescue and the fighting in the kibbutz, they had to restrain her from going on into Gaza to learn more. That’s the kind of team and professionalism Bill Plante got me into when he invited me to join ‘60 Minutes.’ ”

Inaugural speaker of the Bill Plante Conversations series, Owens described Plante as a consummate and ethical journalist who was always a gentleman, listened to everyone, treated everyone with dignity. He described the ethics of “60 Minutes” to use primary sources and check facts. When challenged – as they often were – Plante would get down to the archived script and script notes to check exactly who said what on air.

“His interviews were so friendly and deep that they turned into conversations,” Smith said. “That is the model for this series for Georgetown Village.”

Founded in 2011, Georgetown Village is now one of the 17 aging-in-place “village” services in the Washington area. Now, they are celebrating and benefitting from their “game-changing” recent move to their spacious and expertly decorated new headquarters at the former Fillmore School on 35th Street. They have re-invented their mission not only as a service organization to allow members to “age in place” but as a friendly and accessible, isolation-busting gathering place, according to Georgetown Village Executive Director Lynn Golub-Rofrano.

This first “conversations” event filled quickly, ending with the group having to tell members “sorry, no guests” and packing those who wanted to attend in person to seats in the large adjoining office. Owens and members of the Plante family including well-known radio and TV host Chris Plant (Bill Plante’s stepson), stayed until the end of the reception, talking and answering questions — conversing as friends with Georgetown Village members.

There are no set regular dates for the Bill Plante Conversations series. They will be announced as they are organized. Stay tuned.




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