Inside Edition returns for its 30th season this fall. Sitting behind the anchor’s desk, as per usual, is Deborah Norville, who has held that seat since 1995 and is the longest sitting anchor on a daily broadcast program.
CBS Local’s Matt Weiss caught up with Norville earlier today to discuss some of her favorite pieces as well as a sneak peak at tonight’s Inside Edition.
MW- Hi Debra, how are you doing?
DN- Good thank you! How are you?
MW- Doing very well over here. I’d like to start things off by saying congratulations on the 30th season of Inside Edition, huge accomplishment for you and the show. What’s been your proudest moment as an anchor?
DN- Thank you! Well, there have been so many moments when I’m really proud of the show. I think our coverage on September 11th was exceptional. We happened to have had a crew down in the Wall Street area working on another story when the first plane hit and they immediately went into breaking news mode. They were literally on Water Street as the building was coming down and as they were literally running for their lives, as were so many people at that moment, you saw the cloud engulf the team.
The camera man had turned and was running but holding the camera so that the lens showed what they were running from. If you were watching our show you experienced, in a very large way, what hundreds of people experienced that day as they too were engulfed in that cloud and became disoriented and had a sense of vertigo and which way is up and what do I do and is this the end of the world? Our coverage that day was impactful, piercing and terrifying just like the day was.
MW- Wow, that must have been a truly terrifying thing to cover live. Switching gears a bit, can you pick your favorite story that you’ve covered? One that puts a smile on your face when you think back on it.
DN- Oh gosh, there’s so many stories. It’s like which kid do you love the most when you have several children. I personally tend to like the stories that are about regular, everyday people that when circumstances confront them they do extraordinary things. There’s one story in particular that I reported many years ago and it was a woman who had been diagnosed with an unknown form of cancer called multiple myeloma. At the time she was diagnosed it was diagnosis to death in four years there was no cure and there was nobody looking for one because it was such a rare disease.
She had an identical twin sister, the two of them created a foundation thinking, ‘Well I’ll never raise enough money to find a cure but maybe we can raise enough money to fund research, different types of research.’ So they seeded various types of research projects figuring that if the project has merit, big pharma will come along and take the research the rest of the way. They’ve got the budget to do that. Sure enough, this woman who could have died 15 years ago is very much alive. There are now seven drugs being used to keep multiple myeloma patients alive and this woman was named one of Time’s 100 most influential people. She was just a regular person who was confronted by something extraordinary and she changed the world. Those are the stories I love to do.
MW- What an incredible story! When you’re telling these kinds of stories, how has reporting changed in recent times compared to the earlier days of Inside Edition? Now that there is social media and the internet, how has the landscape changed?
DN- That’s a great question! That’s a great question because for a television show like Inside Edition we go into the day knowing that our audience already knows everything that’s going on. We’re all getting news alerts all day long so we know what’s happening, what we may not know is why it happened. Or what were the events that transpired that created this event and that’s where we can step in and do a story that these well-informed people called our viewers will want to tune for and stick around to watch.
Plus we have stories that aren’t just breaking news events, we’ve got one later this week – 42% of dog owners sleep with their dog in their bed, thats an interesting statistic. We see that statistic and we go, ‘Hmm dogs are furry and dogs play outside and dogs might have germs. Wonder what kind of germs the dogs might be bringing into the bed?’ So we went to people who sleep with their dogs, we asked if we could swab the bottom of their dog’s feet, they said sure. So we swabbed the feet, we send the swabs to the laboratory, the laboratory cultures whatever’s on the swab and the list we got back of the germs and the fungi and bacteria that are on the bottom of these dog’s feet will stop you cold. I won’t give you the whole list but here’s the one that really jumped off the list to me, the germ that causes meningitis. Do you really want to sleep with a dog that’s got meningitis germs on its feet? I sure don’t!
MW- Looks like my dog is getting a foot bath before bed from now on.
DN- There you go [laughs]!
MW- Now I know there is another story coming out this season about a woman who claimed to be the daughter of Jerry Lewis and it turns out its more likely than not she is in fact who she says she is. What can you tell us about this woman?
DN- That’s really what we excel at at Inside Edition, we find these kinds of off the beaten track stories. This woman is a dead ringer for Jerry Lewis, she looks like Jerry Lewis, she did the “Hey Lady” thing for us and she’s actually met Mr. Lewis many times during her life. Jerry of course passed away last August at the ripe old age of 91 and left a fortune that is estimated to be around 50 million dollars in his estate. This woman is homeless, her worldly goods are in a shopping cart that pretty much goes everywhere she goes. So how did she end up being the child of Jerry Lewis, a world-wide icon, to being a homeless person living in Pennsylvania?
Well, her parents were never married. Her mother had a long term affair with Jerry Lewis, she was the product of that affair. So she lived with her single mom and that was the start of it and then on Inside Edition you’ll learn about the circumstances of her life that lead her to be homeless.
MW- Well thank you so much for speaking with me today Deborah and good luck with the new season!
DN- Thank you so much I really enjoyed this, appreciate it! Take care, Matt!
Inside Edition airs tonight at 7 pm. Check your local listings for more information.