ABC7 NY’s 1980 Eyewitness News Team Revisits Coverage of John Lennon Murder

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December 8, 2020 marks the 40th anniversary of John Lennon’s murder. For classic rock fans of a certain age, the moment they heard the news was as impactful as that of when they found out that President Kennedy had been assassinated 17 years earlier.

The news of Lennon’s death at age 40 was first revealed via an unlikely source, when Howard Cosell, part of ABC’s Monday Night Football broadcasting trio, broke the news of the “unspeakable tragedy”  to a shocked nation. “Hard to go back to the game after that news flash,” says Cosell, “which in duty bound we have to tell.”

Watch the memorable clip

40 years later, ABC7/WABC-TV New York is sharing a firsthand account of Lennon’s murder with Eyewitness to the Death of John Lennon. The program, hosted by ABC7 anchor Bill Ritter, features interviews with prominent members of the 1980 ABC7 Eyewitness News broadcast team. It premieres Friday, Dec. 4.  Viewers can stream the special across ABC7 NY’s connected TV apps on Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, and Roku. (To stream the special, viewers can search “ABC7 New York” in the app store.) The special will also air on ABC7 on Sunday, Dec. 13, at 5:00 p.m.

Watch a preview below.

Lennon was slain in front of his residence at The Dakota, which is just blocks from the ABC7 studio on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. The new special features interviews with members of the Eyewitness News broadcast team who were on the ground and covered the story, both in front of the camera – Geraldo Rivera, Ernie Anastos, John Johnson, Doug Johnson – and behind the scenes. It also includes the firsthand account of former ABC7 producer Alan Weiss who broke the story to the station. Weiss was receiving medical care at Roosevelt Hospital when the police and emergency responders rushed Lennon into the emergency room. He recounts the moment he witnessed firsthand the doctors working to save the former Beatle’s life, hearing Lennon’s wife, Yoko Ono, and how he broke the story to ABC7’s assignment editor.

From the announcement: The Lennon special tells the story that shook the world from a perspective many have never seen — as it happened, moment by moment, with rare and newly discovered historical footage, all through the eyes of Eyewitness News.

Watch the preview of Eyewitness to the Death of John Lennon

Related: Lennon was honored by the U.S.P.S. with a Forever stamp in 2018

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