“I wouldn’t say ‘yanked.’ ‘Replaced’ is a better word,” said Washington Post Metro columnist Marc Fisher, discussing his much-coveted Pulitzer nomination for Commentary selections over the course of the past year. “Yeah, I think Joann Armao [assistant Metro editor] and Len Downie [executive editor] made that decision.” That decision was to replace Fisher’s nomination with one for Marjorie Williams, the Post reporter who died of cancer in mid-January at age 47.
“I was happy to do anything I could do to help, even posthumously, an extraordinary writer and thinker who will have lasting impact,” said a disappointed Fisher singing her praises. “She was probably the only person of my generation who could legitimately call herself an essayist and not stretch the definition.” He continued, “I’ve got lots more years to seek recognition.” Still, any writer knows the Pulitzer — even a nomination — is the gold standard of journalism.
“We can only have three entries in each category,” explained Downie, trying to justify the decision. “The editorial page as well as the newsroom has a shot at it.” The decision-makers at The Post had decided to submit Sally Jenkins (sports) and David Ignatius (editorial page) and “we were thinking about a bunch of others,” said Downie with his Post spin. “It was Joann’s call. Fred Hiatt, [editorial page editor] agreed.”
“It’s not like we’re giving out awards,” said Downie defensively. “We weren’t done; now we’re done. They went off yesterday [Tuesday].”
This isn’t the first time The Washington Post has been involved in controversy about a Pulitzer. Remember Janet Cooke, the Post reporter who received the prize for her 1980 series about a young heroin addict named Jimmy? It was learned that she cooked the journalistic books, as well as her own goose, by fabricating the story.
Local boxer could be contender
Local boxing fave, junior middleweight and welterweight Jimmy Lange, jumps into the ring of producer Mark Burnett’s (“The Apprentice” and “Survivor”) new reality show, “The Contenders.” The NBC series, which takes on the search for the next boxing superstar, is co-produced by another Washingtonian, legendary boxer Sugar Ray Leonard, along with Sly “Rocky” Stallone and DreamWorks principal Jeff Katzenberg.
The six-foot Lange, 29, already has one title under his belt: He was named one of “Cosmopolitan” magazine’s most eligible bachelors in ’99. But don’t get too excited, gals. The pugilist pinup now lives in Great Falls with his wife, daughter and their (one-two punch) young twins. Lange will be coached by Stallone and his role model, Leonard, but we hear he’s signed on for acting training, too. Get your TV-side seats for “The Contenders” premiere on March 7.
Cure for the common cold?
Hmmm, is it possible that former Mayor-for-Life Marion Barry, who’s had his share of medical problems in recent years, might have run for City Council to guarantee his health insurance? …
Courting the game
While celebrating publication of his memoirs, “Capitol Tennis” veteran pro Allie Ritzenberg served his pals a surprising backhand — after 40 years, he’s stepping down as director of the St. Albans Tennis Club, which he founded. Among his students at the no-frills, A-list membership club: first ladies Jackie Kennedy and Barbara Bush, John Lindsay, Kay Graham, and former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara. Ritzenberg has won 11 world championships and is ranked No. 1 internationally in the 85-and-older age group. Love All, Allie.
Hogettes belly up
Two pigs dining at Morton’s? “We’re feeling very secure,” shot back a Hogette from the Redkskins cheering squad. At the charity fund-raiser for the team’s Foundation, two Hogettes — sporting pig snouts and garish drag fashion — bellied up to offensive linebacker Ray Brown and to well-laden groaning boards at the new Bethesda steakhouse.
There’s talk that FCC Chairman Michael Powell, before announcing his decision to step down next month, was entertaining the bees swarming around the honey pot. Powell was in the midst of trying to push through deregulation of broadcast ownership, leading the fight to relax ownership rules as a favor to the president — not to mention Rupert Murdoch and News Corp. That’s not static you’re hearing — it’s the Buzz around the money trail.