AS COANCHOR OF CBS THIS MORNING, Harry Smith prides himself on not being easily impressed by celebrity. After all, he says, he lives in the very same Manhattan apartment building where Madonna hangs her bustiers, and not once has he tried to seek her out.
“Oh, come on, Harry,” interrupts his wife, CBS sportscaster Andrea Joyce. “How about the time you walked the dog four times in one day to see if you would accidentally bump into her?”
Okay, maybe he is a little impressed sometimes (Julia Roberts and Susan Sarandon are also faves, he admits). But then, it hasn’t been so long since Smith, 39, and Joyce, 36, were coanchoring the noon news in Denver, so playing network celebrities still seems a bit strange.
Most nights the couple are nestled in their comfy two-bedroom apartment, 12 floors above Central Park. The view is panoramic, but there is an ugly hole in the balcony. “Barbecuing accident,” is all Harry will say. Reluctant partygoers, they spend most nights together with son Jake, 1 l/2, and are “basically homebodies,” he says. “Jake has dinner at 6; we all play a while after dinner. Then Jake takes a bath. Then we watch Dan [Rather]. And that’s about it.”
For Smith and Joyce, of course, it’s this kind of real-people persona that has won them fans. Paula Zahn, Smith’s CBS This Morning coanchor, likes to tell friends about the time she was on assignment with Smith and weathercaster Mark McEwen on the French Riviera. They were surrounded by some of France’s finest restaurants, and “Harry had been telling us for months he was going to take us to one of his favorite places in the world,” she says. “So we start driving into the mountains. He took us to this pizza parlor about 20 miles away. That pretty much sums up Harry.”
That—and work. Not only does Smith coanchor the morning show, he also writes a weekly feature for the program, reports for CBS radio and tutors first and second graders in English one night a week. Joyce, meanwhile, just done with another season of weekly road trips to college basketball games (in the fall she anchors CBS’s College Football Today), is gearing up for next winter’s Olympics in France. Harry will be there as well, on location with CBS This Morning.
That assignment, at least, will keep them in the same area code for a while. Andrea still remembers a visit to the doctor when she was trying to become pregnant. The doctor asked if she had ever spent an entire month in the same city as her husband. “We went back over a two-year period in our heads, and we hadn’t,” she confesses.
Their schedules have gotten no less daunting since then. Harry is up each morning at 4 and usually naps for an hour or two in the afternoon when “I get a lot of work-related calls,” says Joyce. “I’m always whispering, like I’m broadcasting a golf game. When I do that, everyone knows that Jake and Harry are both napping.”
Last month, to escape phone interruptions while she was preparing for the NCAA basketball tournament, Joyce checked into a nearby hotel for two days. Such dual-career management isn’t always easy, she admits, but back in Denver when she met Smith in 1985, even dating seemed a big step. “My career was everything to me and here I was, 32,” says Joyce. “I had moved all over the country with this single purpose of becoming very successful, and I found myself sitting next to this man, anchoring the noon news in Denver, and we’re hot for each other.”
Married in June 1986, she moved to Dallas after Smith took a job there as a CBS correspondent. That decision wasn’t hard, she says, because she felt her own career wasn’t going places in Denver anyway. And when Harry was offered the job on CBS This Morning in 1987, it seemed impossible to turn down. But the next time, Joyce says, may be tougher. “What happens if CBS says, ‘Harry, mornings are not working out,’ and they want to send him to Moscow or something,” frets Joyce. “We have come to the realization that this is a real thing I’m doing, and he might have to be the one to make the next sacrifice if it comes to it.”
Although Smith’s job keeps him mostly in New York now, last January he packed off to Saudi Arabia for four weeks. While there, he scored a journalistic scoop—he and his camera crew were first on the scene after the Scud attack on the U.S. barracks in Riyadh—but the trip caused problems at home. Andrea had to cancel an assignment in Germany to stay home with Jake and worried about her husband going into a war-zone. “We had a talk, not heated, about this,” she says. “I just want him to be around. I want Jake to grow up with him. But we also came to the realization that he has to do what will make him happy.”
A native of Lansing, Ill., Smith says he came by his broadcaster instincts early. “My mother tells this story that I came home one time when I was 4 or 5, stood on a chair and demanded to be heard,” he says proudly. The youngest of eight children, Smith remembers his father working two jobs, as a policeman and as a milkman, to support the family. Harry himself attended Central College in Pella, Iowa, on a football scholarship, majoring in communications and theater.
Joyce, the daughter of a Detroit grocer and his secretary wife, got her start more quietly, by writing a fan letter to a newspaper reporter just back from Vietnam. “She wrote back to me, this dopey kid, and I remember thinking that was my dream, to be able to go someplace and tell people what was going on.
After graduating from the University of Michigan, Joyce began her TV career in 1976 as a $4-an-hour weathercaster in Colorado Springs, later shifting to sports at a network affiliate in Detroit. Always an avid fan, she is never far from her next sports fix. Atop the family’s VCR sit tapes of last year’s Heisman Trophy Award Show and two years of Auburn-Alabama football games all Andrea’s. Next to them are Harry’s tapes: last week’s Meet the Press and a Robert Duvall movie. Despite his college football days, Smith is clearly no sports fanatic. Says Joyce: “I find myself standing there trying to explain to him the importance of the LSU game.”
At times, balancing work, marriage and parenting has required some help. To smooth out occasional rough spots, the couple still on occasion consult a psychologist whom they’ve known since their Denver days. Harry suggested the counseling after their first few dates had ended in fights, and “it was the smartest thing we ever did,” says Joyce. They’ve also installed a full-time babysitter in an apartment across the hall and are now carefully planning for their second child after next year’s Olympics.
As for their careers, Smith says he doesn’t let his show’s third-place ratings eat away at him and cites viewer habits as one reason. “There are people who’ve been watching the Today show since J. Fred Muggs,” he shrugs. “Andrea and I have both been in this business a long time. We have seen too many people neglect the home fires for their jobs and careers. We always slop to think about our home fires.”
Which means, for one thing, not worrying about playing the celebrity game. “Maybe if I went out more, the ratings would go up, but I would rather stay at home and read Goodnight, Moon or Oscar’s Rotten Birthday,” says Smith. No matter. That’s just the way the couple’s fans want it to be.
ALAN CARTER in New York City