Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Tom Clark Will Be Missed
Sometimes you can wait too long as heir apparent.
The latest to understand this is Tom Clark who has just quit as second-in-command at CTV News.
Ths is a stunning loss for CTV which had been grooming Clark for decades as its next anchor.
And he'd made all the right moves from CFTO anchor to CTV's man in Beijing to CTV's man in Washington and lately as Mike Duffy's replacement on CTV News Net with a new Ottawa-based series Power Play.
CTV insiders are telling me Clark was understandably shook up when Lisa LaFlamme was suddenly named as successor to retiring Lloyd Robertson as CTV chief Anchor.
My sources say Clark was quite bitter and had always been led to believe that he would logically replace Robertson.
Clark sent out a Twitter with the cryptic message: "Suffice to say there is no more PowerPlay with Tom Clar."
Jane Taber from Question Period was hosting Power Play on CTV Tuesday evening.
The announcement from CTV News head Robert Hurst was a mere eight lines, an indication of the suddenness of Clark's decision to quit.
All Hurst said was simply "CTV is extremely proud of its long association with Tom Clark and wishes him well in his future endeavours."
Which is a bit strange considering Clark's long association with CTV.
Clark is not the first of Robertson's supposed heirs to leave the network.
For years Keith Morison was thought to be the insider until Robertson got tired of the inevitable talk and Morison moved on to NBC.
And certain Pam Wallin also had the inside track for the next few years until she left for a political career --these days she's in the Senate.
I first profiled Clark in the 1970s when I was TV critic at The Spectator and he had taken over from Gord Martineau as CFTO news reader. He was strong from the start, no wobbling whatsoever.
I learned he'd been studying journalism at Carleton University the same time I was there but had left for a news job on Montreal TV.
He was filled with stories of working for the senior John Bassett. And Clark also co-hosted The Bassett Report with Isabel Bassett.
In recent years Clark was a senior correspondent on W5 and his TV reporting included the fall of the Berlin Wall and the srtudent uprising in Tien An Men Square.
As Global anchor Kevin Newman twittered: :"Many memories of working alongside and in competition with Tom Clark. He's tough, smart, and personally kind. We need more of his class."
I also discovered that day over lunch at the King Edward hotel that he was basically a nice guy. True, he was very handsome but he'd worked hard on all his assignments. I thought he had fared best during live coverage of provincial leadership conventions.
He chose the King Eddy because he'd often be there with his great uncle, the legendary writer Gregory Clark. His great-grandfather was Joseph T. Clark, managing editor of the Toronto Star and Saturday Night. His grandfather reported for The Star while his father was the founder of CanadaNewsWire. And I knew a cousin Andy who was a Spec photographer at the time. So journalism ran deep in his family.
Where can Clark go? He'd be a catch for either CBC or Global, of that I'm sure.