Bergman Named First Amendment Speaker

“Insider” model speaks at Madison convention

Lowell Bergman, a veteran television journalist made famous as the model for Al Pacino’s role in The Insider, will be the First Amendment Speaker for the 2002 AAN Convention in Madison, Wis.

Bergman’s fight to air a shelved “60 Minutes” investigation of Brown & Williamson Tobacco was chronicled in the 1999 Academy Award-nominated motion picture.

“I’m what I would call a minor celebrity,” Bergman said in a 2001 interview with the Web site “I don’t get recognized on the street because I’m not Al Pacino. I’m not on camera, so therefore people don’t know what I look like.”

The convention, hosted by Isthmus, runs May 30 through June 1 at the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Monoma Terrace Community and Convention Center.

Although he now resides in Berkeley, Calif., Bergman lived in Madison in the mid-60s when he earned BAs in history and sociology from the University of Wisconsin and wrote for the campus paper, The Daily Cardinal.

“Bergman comes out of a golden age in campus life that produced some remarkable filmmakers, critics and journalists, ” says Isthmus Editor Marc Eisen. “Bergman has been at the edge ever since.”

Past First Amendment speakers have included Oliver Stone, Larry Flynt, James Fallows and Nadine Strossen, among others.

Bergman is a contributor to The New York Times and a producer and correspondent for the PBS documentary series “Frontline.” He is also a visiting professor at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley.

Originally a print reporter, Bergman cofounded the non-profit Center for Investigative Reporting in 1977. For 20 years, he worked as a staff producer/reporter for ABC News and CBS News. For 14 years, Bergman was a producer for the CBS news magazine “60 Minutes.”

Bergman is the recipient of an Alfred I. Dupont Golden Baton for his 1996 “Frontline” report “Murder, Money & Mexico.” He has also received two Peabody Awards and several Emmy Awards, including one for the 2001 “Frontline” documentary “Drug Wars.”

Bergman’s most recent work includes a June 2001 “Frontline” documentary titled “Blackout,” which chronicled California’s energy crisis, as well as several “Frontline” documentaries on the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington D.C.

“The movie has given me a reputation for integrity, which I like, and it has given me too much credit for things that other people did as well,” Bergman said in the interview. “The Pacino character says something like ‘When I say I’m Lowell Bergman from ’60 Minutes,’ they call back.’ But what’s Lowell Bergman without the 60 Minutes?” The movie has sort of made up for that. They call me back, particularly in Washington, where it counts.”