The Competitive Edge

Charles Lachman, the executive producer of Inside Edition, defines dedicated—or crazy. The
show's executive producer has never once called in sick in 16 years. Even
when he was recovering from surgery, he performed his job from his office
couch. “I had two knee operations, but I made it to work by show time,”
Lachman says. “He's the hardest worker in the business,” adds Fox's
Bill O'Reilly, who once anchored Inside
. “He brings his sleeping bag and stays there all day and
all night.”

Lachman starts each day at 6:45 a.m. and usually hangs around until 8
each night. He also comes in on Sundays to prepare for the coming week. In a
competitive marketplace, Lachman's work ethic serves him well.

IE prides itself on breaking stories
and treading controversial ground. Recent shows included an investigation of
groups who rent out golf courses under the guise of charity fund-raisers, while
they are actually hosting strippers. IE also
explored the dangers that realtors face in showing empty houses to prospective
buyers who assault or murder them. Its mix of everyday people and occasional
celebrity scoops has proved potent; since 1992, with the exception of the
1994-95 season, IE has remained in second
place among syndicated newsmagazines, behind only stalwart
Entertainment Tonight.

Although he has worked in TV since 1988, Lachman began his career in
print. After graduating from Brooklyn College, he became a reporter with the
White Plains Reporter-Dispatch and ended up
a crack correspondent at the New York Post.
“I wanted to go on adventures and be paid for it, then come home and write
about them,” he says.

During his eight years at the Post,
Lachman covered the war in Beirut and was the first reporter to sneak into
Granada when the U.S. invaded.

“We were running exclusive after exclusive. Four days after we broke
the story, The New York Times admitted the
invasion had happened,” says Bob Young, Lachman's former editor at the
Post and former boss at
Inside Edition.

Yet Lachman plays down that experience. “I'm not sure I would do it
again. But I had a scoop mentality and the ambition to prove myself.”

His love of the get got him noticed by News Corp. executives, who pulled
him off the newspaper and plunked him down at A Current
in 1989. After a few months learning the ropes, he migrated
to Fox-owned WNYW as managing editor.

“I had always wanted to go into television,” he says. “Newspapers
are a great training ground for TV in terms of research, writing and reporting
skills. Once you have them, it gives you a richness of background that's a
little rare in television.” During his yearlong tenure at WNYW, Lachman wrote
In the Name of the Law, a cops-and-robbers
thriller, before King World snared him for Inside
. Michael King had lured some of the producers of
A Current Affair, and they persuaded their
protégé Lachman to join them.

“He's developed into a remarkable producer,” says Roger King, CEO
of King World Productions, “and changed the direction of
Inside Edition.” Under Lachman's
leadership, the show aggressively pursues enterprise pieces. “I love
screening an investigative story that has taken months to pull together and
jumping on the pop-culture story of the day,” Lachman says. “But my
favorites are the human-interest stories—covering the civilian thrust in the
national spotlight and scoring that first interview.”

While he cites 9/11 and the Clinton impeachment among his memorable
stories, his favorite is “Unclaimed Funds,” a show in which viewers were
told how to retrieve millions of dollars owed them that they didn't even know
existed. “In one case, we found $500,000 for a viewer,” says Lachman,
adding, “My proudest story is one on insurance fraud that won a George Polk

Inside Edition also keeps its toes in
the celebrity pool, interviewing Anna Nicole Smith following her bizarre
appearance on the American Music Awards and NBA star Ron Artest after he
brawled with fans. It pays its respects to entertainment but casts a much
broader net than Entertainment Tonight,
The Insider, Access
and Extra.

Inside Edition anchor Deborah
Norville says the show stays on its game because Lachman and his team have read
and seen everything. “Our mandate is to produce a journalistically sound,
informative show with real stories. It was a strategic decision to do network
news with network credibility. What we've got going for us is history and
longevity. That's our currency.”

That history explains why he has stayed at IE 15 years. Says Lachman: “There's a drama going
on every day.”

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.