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10 Great Seconds – Buried the Lead

October 29, 2011

This is one of my favorite lines in a favorite movie – the last one in this clip. Here’s the setup – Albert Brooks is a TV reporter and works with producer Holly Hunter. They’re best friends – they can’t get through the day without running every detail past each other.  They also have a huge respect for the sanctity of the news.

She’s just started dating the dumb, handsome anchorman (William Hurt) and following a date, she goes to Brook’s house and they have a GREAT argument. The best part – when he tries to convince her that Hurt is the anti-Christ. “Think about it – will the devil have horns and a tail? No, of course not! He’ll be an unassuming pretty boy who chips away at everything you believe in bit by bit.”

This clip takes place right after that.

“Burying the lead” in newspaper-speak is to put the most important information last. Newspaper writing style is to write the article in descending order of importance, so that anytime you stop reading the story, you’ve got the most important info. If you bury the lead, you put the key thing that should lead the story somewhere further in the text.  I spent a semester as a journalism major. I spent a lot of semesters as a number of different majors, as my student loans will affirm.

Almost as much as I love that line is her reaction to him saying “I’m in love with you.” That’s such a great face. I’ve seen that face in my life, and man, it hurts. Great scene, great moment, great movie!

It’s a shame I couldn’t fit into 10 seconds when Albert Brooks’ character is in high school, getting beat up, and telling the bullies “You’ll never make more than $20,000 a year, you’ll never have an original thought, or know the joy of an elegant sentence!” They give him one last kick, walk away unfazed, saying “$20,000 – that’s not bad.”

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