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The last report from Peter Jennings

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Dec. 1, 2005, 7:08PM

The last report from Peter Jennings


Washington Post

In his final report for ABC News, Peter Jennings, who died Aug. 7, is seen "out in the field reporting, doing what he does best," said Tom Yellin, executive producer of the special. "His passion for knowing was what made him so good. He wasn't just asking; he really did want to know the answer."

Peter Jennings Reporting: Breakdown: America's Health Insurance Crisis, airing Dec. 15 on ABC, was a work in progress when Jennings was diagnosed with lung cancer in March. Jennings continued working on the program throughout his illness.

Jennings and Yellin had wanted the program, the first of four they'd planned on health insurance, to air in June. "Peter wanted this to go forward. We talked during his illness about how to handle things, like what if he couldn't narrate it," Yellin said. "We'd bring him screeners (advance tapes), and we had his comments. He was just being Peter, who cared deeply about the work."

Charles Gibson introduces the special, but at press time plans for narration were undetermined.

The health-care system "is hopelessly complex," said Yellin. "It's not nearly as simple as your insurance company not paying for something."

After Jennings' death, Yellin said he talked with ABC executives about the show. "I said, 'I think it is something we should put on the air, but if you tell me that somehow it's not right, then we won't,' " he said. "But there is a kind of profound appropriateness, that the last time you will see Peter Jennings in an original moment, he'll be asking the questions you would ask if you could talk to that person yourself."

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