April 18th, 2012
09:00 PM ET

Letters to the President #1185: 'Dick Clark'

Reporter's Note: President Obama has expressed his condolences over the death of entertainment icon Dick Clark.

Dear Mr. President,

No doubt you’ve seen the news of Dick Clark’s passing, and I’m sad to see him go. He was an American icon to be sure, and he had his finger on the pulse of American pop culture in a way that few ever have.

What I admire much more than just that, however, was the way he made fun…well, fun. It was hard work, of course. The breath of his success was impressive. I’ve always loved the idea of Renaissance men. Chevy Chase once said something like, “I want to be a Jack of all trades, and master of several.” Clark achieved that in a fashion. For every smiling, seemingly casual moment on screen, he spent a great many more hours behind the cameras tending to details; developing ideas, launching new ventures, and scrutinizing investments.

He was renowned for insisting that meetings start and stop on time, (something that a great many business folks these days could use a lesson in!) and that his creative teams listen to the audience. He famously said more than once that he was not in the business of creating trends, but rather recognizing them and turning them into hits…or, more specifically, into money.

Don’t get me wrong: I have always had great regard for cutting edge artists; for people who challenge us with new ideas and concepts, and who often fail in the process. But I’ve also always respected those who seek to give us what we want. Hit makers. Pop stars. It is not as easy as it may seem. There is a fine line between pandering and hitting the sweet spot in public taste. I think the reason Dick Clark succeeded so well was that he had a disciplined approach to his business coupled with an almost pitch perfect sense of what America really wanted. He didn’t apologize about giving it to us, nor did he make us feel strange about enjoying it.

He was in the trade of pop pleasure, and it worked in a simple, entertaining, and often charming way…just like a good pop song.


April 18th, 2012
05:35 PM ET

Tonight on AC360: Remembering Dick Clark

Television icon Dick Clark died from a heart attack at the age of 82.  He was nicknamed "America's oldest living teenager" during his time as host of "American Bandstand" in the 1950s. His career spanned more than six decades with the youngest generation recognizing him as the host of "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve".

Anderson Cooper spoke with CNN's Candy Crowley about Clark's career as an entertainer and the founder of Dick Clark Productions. "There are very few people, I think, who came of age in the time that he did in television who also owned and produced television content," Anderson said. "His model of being a TV host and businessman is something that somebody like Ryan Seacrest has really followed and kind of taken even to a whole new level, but I think Dick Clark really broke the mold."

On Clark's connection to his viewers, Anderson said, "Everybody sort of feels like they knew him in one realm or another." He also discussed the entertainer's beloved New Year's Eve tradition and his youthful looks. Watch AC360° at 8 and 10 p.m. ET tonight for more on Dick Clark's life and legacy from those who knew him best.

Filed under: Dick Clark
April 18th, 2012
12:06 AM ET

Despite U.N. presence, violence continues in Syria

Anderson reports that civilian bloodshed in Syria is ongoing– even as U.N. observers, whose mandate is to confirm a so-called ceasefire is intact, arrived in the country. Opposition members say that this same day at least seventy people were killed in Syria. For more than a year now the Assad regime has tried to veil its actions from the outside world. On April 16, Anderson spoke with U.S Ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice: “They have lied to the international community. They have lied to their own people," she said. The next night, Anderson spoke with an activist named Zaidoun, whose first-hand account from Homs confirms that, indeed, despite the claims of Bashar al-Assad, there is no ceasefire.

Filed under: Anderson Cooper • Syria
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