March 8, 2021

Lane Venardos, Ex-CBS News Vice President, Dies at 67

The cause was a heart attack, his daughter Kelly Venardos-Ward said.

Mr. Venardos started out in broadcast journalism at the Chicago radio station WBBM in the late 1960s. His 30-year career with CBS began in 1971, when he came to New York as a producer of special events for CBS radio news.

After working as a senior producer for CBS radio in Washington and assistant director for WBBM television, the local CBS affiliate, he returned to New York in 1974 to become a producer for the “CBS Evening News With Walter Cronkite.” He was named executive producer in 1984, three years after Dan Rather took over as anchor after Mr. Cronkite’s retirement.

In 1986, Mr. Venardos was named the executive producer of CBS’s special events division, which covers breaking news, elections and summit meetings and prepares special reports in anticipation of notable deaths and important news events.

In May 1989, he interrupted the show “Dallas” to bring the unfolding events in Tiananmen Square in Beijing to American living rooms. That year he also produced the network’s coverage of Mikhail S. Gorbachev’s trip to China to restore normal relations and end the 30-year Chinese-Russian split.

In 1990, he started a late-night news program, “America Tonight,” with Charles Kuralt and Lesley Stahl as anchors, that offered a recap of the day’s news stories and three five-minute features in the newsmagazine mode.

Mr. Venardos also produced many documentaries for CBS, including “Lucy,” a celebration of the career of Lucille Ball that was broadcast on the day of her death, April 26, 1989, and “48 Hours on Crack Street,” a two-hour program that examined the lives of drug addicts.

In 1997, after ABC and NBC trumped CBS by going to live coverage of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, Mr. Venardos, who was then vice president for hard news, was reassigned to his old job in charge of special events. The London bureau chief, Marcy McGinnis, was brought in to direct the network’s hard news division.

Lane Beall Venardos was born on June 20, 1944, in Alton, Ill. While still in high school he began working as a disc jockey for the local radio station, WOKZ.

In addition to his daughter Kelly, of West Orange, N.J., he is survived by his wife, Karen; a brother, John, of Manhattan Beach, Calif.; three other children, Kevin, of Manhattan, Kimberly, of Los Angeles, and Kasey Venardos-Gilhuly of Port Orchard, Wash.; and four grandchildren.

After retiring from CBS in 2000 Mr. Venardos worked as a producer for several reality shows, including “Survivor,” “The Apprentice” and “The Biggest Loser.”

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