About Art Harris
Art Harris…has gone from Nasirya to Neverland…from 13 years with CNN as a two-time Emmy Award-winning investigative correspondent and an embedded reporter in Iraq, to covering Hollywood scoops, scandals and politics for Entertainment Tonight…
As an ET special correspondent/ producer on the 2008 Presidential campaign, he landed the first post-election sitdown interview with Gov. Sarah Palin in Anchorage (for ETonline), having earlier booked her and husband Todd, aalong with Sen. John McCain and wife, Cindy, for sweeps week sitdowns. He covered the debates, shot exclusive moments with President-elect Barack Obama (backstage at the Democratic Convention with wife Michelle and their daughters).
As a journalist-producer, he also creates a variety of news, entertainment and web projects as CEO of Atlanta-based Busystreet Productions.
A veteran journalist, he created The Bald Truth (www.artharris.com), a popular news blog with attitude that counts well over a million page views its first year, and draws on Art’s three decades covering celebrity, politics, war, true crime, pop culture and Hollywood. It’s scoops are often featured and linked at ETonline, Huff Po, People.com, New York Post’s Page Six, CelebTV.com and others.
Nowadays, he also packs a Sony HD 1031i and recently shot a two-part exclusive on Atlanta’s notorious Mansion Madam that aired on The Insider (WXIA-TV in Atlanta), an excerpt from a reality pilot titled “The Bible Belt Unbuckled.” Riveting Iraq footage he shot under fire during the bloodiest battles of the war in Nasirya — and among the worst friendly fire incidents to date — aired on CNN’s Wolf Blitzer show.
A frequent guest on The Nancy Grace Show, most recently on the O.J. Simpson conviction, has had stories featured on ABC’s Good Morning America, CBS Early Show, FOX News, Geraldo Rivera, and elsewhere. Former Atlanta bureau chief for The Washington Post, he was nominated by its Style section for a Pulitizer-Prize in feature writing.
A recent story he wrote in People about a paralyzed Iraqi baby sparked a humanitarian effort by the U.S. Army to whisk the child to the states for free surgery that was covered by The Anderson Cooper Show, and picked up worldwide.
Art also develops reality shows, and documentaries, and has co-written a pilot on missing kids for Original Productions, called Vanished, that was scheduled to air on A & E in 2008.
Popular on the college circuit, he’s appeared on panels at Duke University Law School about the media’s role in reporting the Iraq war and at the University of Georgia’s respected Grady School of Journalism.
As a CNN correspondent embedded with the 2nd Marines during the war in Iraq, Harris filed dozens of exclusive reports under fire with a light armored recon unit there, then back home, broke others in the Michael Jackson case, a compelling storyteller with three decades of high profile reporting, from sensational trials and true crime to covering Presidential campaigns.
At The Washington Post, he did a short stint as a movie critic. “I was maybe the worst in the paper’s history, probably, because there was not a movie I didn’t like, including ‘Dirty Harry.’” Quickly transferred to the Metro desk, he worked for the legendary Bob Woodward, “an amazing editor who inspired you to stretch, accomplish things you didn’t think possible.”
Then it was off to cover the South as Atlanta Bureau Chief…where he drew on his roots and vast law enforcement sources to take viewers behind the headlines in real life short stories, scoops and insider commentary.
He wrote the first in depth story about the Army’s then hush-hush Delta Force commandos, traveled to Haiti to explore corruption behind the poverty under “Baby Doc,” covered voting rights drives in Mississippi and exposed sex scandals and scams of televangelists like Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, then joined CNN’s investigative unit. Scoring the first interview with the prostitute hired by Rev. Jimmy Swaggart, he popped this question:
“Rev. Swaggart says he’s never kissed a woman other than his wife, is he telling the truth?”
“Well,” replied Debra Murphree, thinking hard for a moment in Art’s CNN special, “Godfathers of the Gospel,” “I don’t think he ever kissed me.”
For ET, he’s covered the 2004 Presidential campaign, and landed a rare White House tour and interview with First Lady Laura Bush.
In the Jackson case, he obtained exclusive police videotape of the mother of Jackson’s accuser, and was the first to interview Santa Barbara District Attorney Tom Sneddon when he apologized for what he called “unprofessional behaviour” in dissing the pop star as “whacko Jacko.” CNN’s talk legend Larry King praised Harris as “one of the best in the business” after breaking the story on his show.
In one exclusive for CBS, Harris reported the state attorney general exonerated sheriffs’ deputies of abuse claims made by Jackson when he was booked, tracking down an inmate who became a key witness for the cops.
Harris also scored an exclusive with new Jackson attorney Tom Mesereau for CBS 48 Hours when he took the case and has contributed to The CBS Early Show.
From Texas, he reported live from the Clara Harris murder trial, as well as from Fort Knox, Ky., where he gained exclusive access to Army tankers training for possible urban combat in Iraq.
Later that year, he traveled to the Persian Gulf as one of CNN’s 18 embedded journalists, reporting from the frontlines with exclusives from Nasirya about the hunt for Saddam cousin, Chemical Ali, a deadly Air Force A-10 “friendly” fire attack on a Marine unit that killed 18 Americans, and what it was like to survive Ambush Alley and his own unit’s friendly fire.
Back in the states, he tracked down Marine witnesses for a CNN exclusive on the tragic incident; after his report, the Pentagon ruled friendly fire had indeed killed the Marines. Art also wrote a 6,000 word account for Duke University magazine.
In 2002, he was on the CNN investigative team that won a National Headliner Award for coverage of 9-11, and tracked hijackers training in Atlanta. When accused Olympic Park Bomber Eric Rudolph was captured, Harris went to North Carolina for a story he’d covered from the start, breaking yarns about Eric’s life on the run…how he’d survived on nuts and salamanders: “Carolina Sushi.” An acclaimed hour special Harris conceived, The Hunt for Eric Rudolph, won a Cine Gold Eagle.
Harris also broke exclusive stories in the sensational “Gold Club” federal racketeering trial of a Gambino organized crime figure convicted of extortion, prostitution and credit card fraud stemming from an Atlanta strip club that offered superstar athletes free sex with strippers â€“ to lure fans who were fleeced with impunity.
In the aftermath of the Columbine High School shootings in Colorado, Harris did the first interviews with parents and members of the “Trenchcoat Mafia,” as well as student Brooks Brown, who was spared by gunman Eric Harris. CNN nominated his Columbine interviews for Emmy and Peabody awards.
Behind the scenes of President Clinton’s sex scandal, Linda Tripp’s literary agent, Luciane Goldberg, told Harris in her first interview why she advised Tripp to secretly tape Monica Lewinsky, and played the tapes.
When Princess Diana crashed in a Paris tunnel, he flew to France to investigate the tragedy, filing reports from Paris and London, while using his fluent French to interview witnesses and dig into mysterious circumstances surrounding the crash.
In 1996, when a bomb exploded in Atlanta’s Olympic Centennial Park, Harris was on the CNN team that won an Emmy Award for Breaking News. The bombing followed a one-hour special on terrorism and Olympic security he reported, “Guarding the Games,” that a TV critic called “sadly prophetic.”
For the special, Harris filed reports from Germany, Israel and the Gaza Strip, and interviewed jailed would-be suicide bombers, experts in counter-terrorism and Israelis orphaned by the 1972 PLO attack during the Olympics in Munich.
During the first 18 months of the O.J. Simpson case, Harris broke hundreds of exclusive stories for CNN, from key defense strategies to prosecution evidence that linked Simpson to the double homicide. Harris was the first reporter to learn the jury had reached a verdict. Analyzing media coverage in the Simpson case, the Los Angeles Times wrote that fellow reporters “applauded Art Harris of CNN for getting a number of stories before anyone else.”
Harris was also part of CNN’s Emmy Award-winning coverage of the Oklahoma City bombing. He won an American Women in Radio & Television Award and a WorldFest Gold Award in 1996 for the “positive portrayal of women.” The story: a profile of a Georgia prosecutor who coped with her fiancÃ©’s murder by crusading for crime victims in court.
“Art discovered me,” says CNN Headline News host Nancy Grace, the former undefeated Atlanta prosecutor. Harris won a 1999 Golden Triangle Award for his profile of a bald beauty queen with alopecia areata, an auto-immune disorder that causes baldness. Harris is among 4 million Americans who have alopecia areata. He also covered the Washington, D.C. sniper, and the deadly West VirginiaÂ copycat.
At The Washington Post, Harris covered everything from Haitian immigrants to the Atlanta child murders and subsequent trial of Wayne Williams, as well as the rise and fall of Rev. Jimmy Swaggart who blasted Harris as “porno writer” for airing exclusive photos of him with a prostitute. He called a press conference, and threatened to sue; then said God had advised him to forgive Harris, and dropped it.
Among his 11 National Headliner Awards are several for investigative reporting for CNN, including a jail suicide in Alabama, which sparked a Justice Department probe. Harris also has written for Esquire, Rolling Stone, Reader’s Digest, People, Penthouse, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Daily News, the San Francisco Examiner and the Atlanta Constitution, where he began his reporting career.
Author Dominick Dunne featured Harris and his OJ Simpson scoops in Vanity Fair, and mentions Harris in his novel, “A City Not My Own.” The late, best-selling author William Diehl named reporters in two of his novels, “Art Harris.” And “gonzo” journalist Hunter S. Thompson fondly called him “an evil chrome dome scorpion” for his tenacious reporting.
Harris has also developed his stories into TV movies. He was executive producier for “In The Name of Love – a Texas Tragedy”, a 1995 FOX television Movie of the Week inspired by an original Harris crime story (from another state). He was supervising producer for the NBC Movie of the Week, “Woman with a Past,” one of the network’s top 10 MOWs of the year (17.5 rating/ 27 share) that was based on another Harris crime story. A CBS’ telefilm, “The Vengeance of Tony Cimo,” was also based on a Harris story.
At CNN, he helped develop the “Crime Stories” hour magazine concept, scoring a 2.2 rating for a segment on the dangers of illegal street racing. Dreamworks Studio has been developing a Harris project as a comedy about the first white baseball player in the “Negro Leagues” down South.
Harris earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and French literature from Duke University. A former Navy officer, he attended the Harvard Business School. He is married to Carol Martin, author and cosmetic surgery consultant, and has two sons, Josh, and Adam, both college students and talented musicians, and a Jack Russell named Zipper.