There are many things I remember about riding the subway in New York City. The rats running across the platforms late at night, that putrid smell of urine lurking everywhere and millions of commuters sitting on the train with their newspapers folded reading on their way to work. If you were a fan of The New York Post or The New York Daily News, then you were more than likely a fan of Jimmy Breslin and Pete Hamill.
Breslin was a little more brash and always brought his blue-collar sensibility to his writing with a touch of film noir prose. Pete Hamill wrote from the heart without being overly sentimental and was no stranger to the society and gossip pages due to his relationships with Shirley MacLaine among others.
These two epitomized what real journalism was and should be – nothing but the facts. Which is a far cry from what we see today where most journalistic pieces are speculation and based on the theory of sensationalism vs journalism. Breslin’s approach was more from an angle point of view. Like the piece he wrote about the assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. He would’ve easily reported what everyone was chatting about – the widow, the shooter, the theories, etc. Instead, Breslin chose to write a story about Clifton Pollard, a black man who dig the slain President’s grave for $3.01 with no overtime for working on a Sunday. Now, THAT was a story.
It was often believed that these two were mortal enemies, but they actually had great admiration and respect for each other as colleagues and as friends right up until their dying days.
The film premiered Jan. 28 on HBO and will take viewers back to the charm of a New York that no longer exits, while delving into issues of race, class, journalistic integrity that resonates even now.
If you are a writer, it is your due diligence to make watching this a priority as Breslin and Hamill: Deadline Artists runs on HBO through March 4th.