Remember that O.J. Simpson highway chase in 1994 and how close it felt the camera was to that white Ford Bronco? That footage was obtained by Bob Tur and his then-wife Marika Gerrard. who forever changed broadcast news with their action-packed live coverage. Soaring above the chaotic spectacle of ‘80s and ‘90s Los Angeles, this young couple revolutionized breaking news with their brazen helicopter reporting.
In addition to the Simpson footage, these pioneers of helicopter reporting, Zoey Tur, (known then as Bob) nabbed numerous monumental moments in L.A. history, including the 1992 riots. This intense work delivered a daily dose of adrenaline for Zoey, but the thousands of hours spent chasing breaking news eventually took its toll on her life, business and marriage.
With meticulous digitization and restoration of their video tape archive, Whirlybird brings to life memories and reflections delivered by the couple and their kids, including their daughter, MSNBC host and author Katy Tur. Matt Yoka’s feature debut, WHIRLYBIRD delivers an immersive view of the City of Angels through the intimate relationship and love story of two journalists and originators of the LA News Service, who like junkies looking for the next fix would do anything for that next story on tape.
Yoka also captures the life that Bob now leads a Zoey, a transgendered woman, and how that impacted a decision to live her authentic life. A life that involved physical and verbal abuse from his Dad, which was repeated in his behavior toward Marika. The only person who could talk him off the ledge was her Mom, Judy Tur, however, once her rapidly declined health resulted in her death, Zoey’s family suffered emotionally as she became more engrossed than ever with work to the point of wondering at what cost does getting a story pay and at the end of the day is it really worth it ? Tur encapsulates it best, “…it’s great being young because everything is so black and white…if you live long enough you will hurt people and live to regret it.” Zoey regrets how she hurt herself, her family and her colleagues, but has zero regrets about living this last chapter of life at peace. Whirlybird can be streamed online via Prime Video and Apple TV.