Dave Waldon was a regular at press tour, sat up front during the sessions. Often wore a Cubs cap.
News started to trickle in this week that he had died. Marc Berman at Mediweek made note of it online at his Programming Insider column. Other tour friends Anne Bannon and Glenn Garvin also paid tribute to Waldon at their blogs (as do several others in Bannon and Garvin's comment sections). Here, also, are two blog tributes from Dave's Canadian critic pals, Alison Cunningham at TV or Not TV and Vancouver-based TV Week editor Brent Furdyk.
Waldon, an L.A.-based entertainment freelancer, was sitting up front in his usual row at the Television Critics Association Winter 2009 press tour as it began one month ago today. That tour was a blur; leaner, meaner, a lot of work, with very little time to socialize. Bumped into Dave at one point and asked about the band aid on his head. "Did Bannon crack your skull open again?" I asked.
Waldon cheerfully corrected me. He was beaned by a fastball. Cut him for several stitches. It occurred several years ago when CBS brought critics out to Dodger Stadium for a fun and lavish evening event. (Those were the days.) While CBS stars mingled with reporters out in the outfiield, batting cages were operating allowing some of us deluded enough into thinking we could hit one out to take our cuts.
Somehow, Dave got dinged. If memory serves, he was taken to hospital in an ambulance, stitched up and gamely returned to the scene of the crime, his head wrapped in white gauze. Fortunately, he was hit in the brain area, the TV critic's least vital organ. I caught it all on film, above.
According to the profile at his blog, Dave was just 38. Back in his college days, he had a liver transplant which saved his life; I have no idea if that was a factor in his death. He seldom asked questions in the general Q & A press tour sessions but afterwards in the scrums he often seemed to know more about whoever was being scrummed that anybody else in the room.
News of his passing comes hard on the heels of the deaths of several other long time North American TV critics, including a few guys I knew and miss like Glenn Esterly and Eirik Knudsen. If some of you think this blog has turned into an obituary column, trust me, I'm sick about it. Their deaths put all this job loss, downsizing and turmoil in the newspaper business in perspective, but it also sets you back a little and makes your wonder when some good news might finally come down the pipe.
Condolences to Waldon's family and friends.