By Mary Ann Bourbeau
ASBURY PARK – Fifteen people will be inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame at its May 7 ceremony at Convention Hall in Asbury Park, including news anchor Connie Chung.
Chung, 70, and her husband, television host Maury Povich had a summer home in Middletown for 20 years while they were raising their son Matthew, now 21.
“Being nominated for the New Jersey Hall of Fame is such an honor,” she said.
Chung is named for the arts and letters category, along with author Carol Higgins Clark. New York Waterway founder Arthur Imperatore Sr. and the late businessman Alfred Koeppe were chosen in the enterprise category. Performing arts inductees include singer Connie Francis, television personality Kelly Ripa, actor Ray Liotta, pop-rocker Tommy James and musician Wyclef Jean.
Steve Van Zandt of the E Street Band will induct James, whose hits with the Shondells include “Mony Mony” and “Crimson and Clover.” James is expected to perform, and there may be surprise guests as well.
The public service inductees are activist Peace Pilgrim (Mildred Lisette Norman) and United States Army Officer Philip Kearny, both of whom are deceased. In the sports category are basketball Hall of Famer Carol Blazejowski, heavyweight boxer Chuck Wepner, NFL player Rosey Grier and professional soccer player Carli Lloyd. Except for Lloyd, all living inductees are expected to attend the event, and a friend or family member will represent those who have died. The event will also honor an as-yet-unnamed Unsung Hero.
“Induction into the New Jersey Hall of Fame is the highest civilian honor that our state can bestow on someone,” said John Keegan, chairman emeritus of the NJHOF Foundation Board. “It’s a celebration of New Jersey and its greatest achievers, and a recognition of role models for our next generation. This is New Jersey’s version of the Academy Awards, so attendees can expect some surprise celebrity appearances.”
Chung, a Washington native, plans to attend the event along with her husband Povich.
The couple now lives full-time in New York City but cherish the memories they made in the Garden State.
“I was a weekend Jersey girl,” said Chung. “It was our chill time. I enjoyed the quiet and the beauty. It was especially good for our son, who could just go outside to play and have the freedom to roam.”
Chung said Povich enjoyed his time in New Jersey as well.
“My husband is an insane golfer,” she said. “He belonged to the Hollywood Golf Club in Deal. He would play to his heart’s content, sometimes even more than 18 holes. He was in heaven.”
Still, Chung has one complaint about the time she spent in New Jersey.
“We were always on the prowl for a sighting of Bruce Springsteen or Jon Bon Jovi,” she said. “Never in all those years did we see either of them.”
Chung joined CBS News in 1971 as a national correspondent for the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite, where she covered events that included the 1972 Democratic Convention and the Watergate scandal, which she said is her most memorable assignment.
“It was early in my career and it was a great learning experience,” said Chung. “After Nixon’s resignation, no other story could measure up in terms of importance. It was the story of the decade and I was fortunate to be in the thick of it.”
Chung later joined NBC News before heading back CBS to host the primetime magazine program, “Face to Face with Connie Chung.” She interviewed congressman Gary Condit about the disappearance of intern Chandra Levy; Exxon Valdez captain Joseph Hazelwood, and scored the first sit-down with L.A. Lakers star Magic Johnson after he announced he was HIV positive.
“Journalists get to witness history up close,” she said.
She worked with Dan Rather on the CBS Evening News, anchored “Connie Chung Tonight” on CNN and later co-anchored a political week-in-review program on MSNBC with Povich, but took the last 10 years off to raise her son.
“In the early years, kids are oblivious to your presence or non-presence,” she said. “But during the teen years, you really want to know who their friends are and their parents, and be here waiting for him to come home.”
Chung is the recipient of three Emmy Awards and the George Foster Peabody Award. She admits the news business has changed dramatically in recent years.
“Politics is not the same as when I covered it,” she said. “There were reasonable elected officials who actually cared about the future of the country and compromised with each other. There were so many senators and congressmen I admired greatly. They had a real concern about what was best for the United States. I don’t see that today. It’s so disheartening.”
The New Jersey Hall of Fame honors those who made notable achievements in all walks of life. The nonprofit organization acquired a mobile museum three years ago that travels to schools, fairs and boardwalks to educate people about its inductees.
The Hall of Fame will also award two Arete Scholarships, a $5,000 college scholarship to one male and one female high school senior who demonstrated academic engagement, moral character and commitment to their community.
The ceremony begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $30-$40 and are available at www.njhalloffame.org.
Arts and entertainment writer Mary Ann Bourbeau can be reached at email@example.com.
This article was first published in the May 4-11, 2017 print edition of The Two River Times.
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