Maureen O'Boyle anchors "A Current Affair." This means she gets to advise viewers, as she did one enchanted evening, that the show "is breaking the news of the dirtiest divorce of the decade . . ."
That is some leap from her first job in TV. She was a college freshman then, a raw rookie doing the morning news at a station in Washington, N.C. It wasn't easy being green. She recalls telling viewers this:"Thank you very much for joining us and there will be more news coming up today at noon and again at 6 o'clock. Don't forget to watch Clara Scott and the rest of the Eyewitness News team here on Channel 9."
As she was on Channel 7 when she said this, she and management agreed she wasn't quite ready for anchoring. However, she said, the executives told her she seemed to have a natural ability for TV and not to give up:
"The news director - he was in tears and I think he was getting ready to get the boot, too - said, `I hope you get back into this some day."'
She did. And now, at 27, the tall, rangy native of Charlotte, N.C., is the new anchor of Fox Broadcasting's syndicated "A Current Affair," the senior citizen of tabloid TV seen on 195 stations.
O'Boyle has been with "Affair" as a reporter and occasional anchor since it went into national syndication in 1988. Last month, she was named to succeed Maury Povich as the show's anchor in the 1991-92 season.
Povich, 51, with "Affair" since it began as a New York-only event in 1986, is leaving when his contract ends in June. He'll go host a talk show that a Fox rival, Paramount Television, plans to emit next fall.
O'Boyle, who off-camera has a breezy, what-the-hey manner, is markedly different from Povich when she's at the anchor desk. He sometimes is moved to a mild leer.
She, on the other hand, is brisk and no-nonsense, even when her copy is classic lurid, as in its description of the dirtiest divorce of the decade:
"A woman who claims her husband betrayed her with a video camera and turned their love into a tawdry X-rated movie."
O'Boyle, who comes from a family of 10 kids, reported plumb ordinary news at stations in Wilmington, N.C., Macon, Ga., and Spokane, Wash., before "Affair."
She isn't dismayed by those who knock the show as tabloid TV or No-Cal National Enquirer. In fact, she said, "I was attracted to the show because of some of the things that people didn't like about it.
"It really was totally different from anything I'd ever seen. . . . It had great stories with real characters."
Said stories, she submits, are morality plays, in a way: "They're stories about people who are good, people who are bad and all the consequences that happen."
Not all are lurid, of course. Some are . . . well, one she particularly remembers concerned an Alaska gold miner who advertised for a bride. A young beauty in Florida responded. Letters of love soon flew back and forth.
O'Boyle persuaded her bosses that this was a story for the ages.
Then she, her camera crew and the Florida beauty flew to Alaska to meet the miner, who was way, way back in the hills.
The prospect of capturing the first meeting of the long-distance lovebirds on tape caused rampant excitement.
Well, there was a happy ending of sorts, but the kind only a grizzled editor could love.
"They hated each other from the moment we got there," O'Boyle said.