Friday, October 31, 2008

Muriel Reis, attorney in tabloid television heyday

Muriel Reis was the attorney for Fox Television when we at A Current Affair were breaking all the laws in the book in the early days of tabloid television. Muriel, who was featured prominently in the book Tabloid Baby, died on Wednesday. We last saw her at the Steve Dunleavy tribute in midtown Manhattan earlier this month, and all of us at TabloidBaby.com offer condolences to her family and friends.

From Legacy.com:

Muriel Henle Reis, beloved wife of Arthur Reis, Jr., for 55 years, devoted mother of Arthur Henle Reis, Diane Mary Reis and Pamela Robin Reis, and a trail blazer for women in the legal profession, died peacefully on Wednesday, October 29th, at her home in Manhattan.

The cause of death was pancreatic cancer.

A legal expert on the First Amendment, libel law and the Federal Communications Commission, she worked on legal issues confronting the broadcast industry for more than 50 years. Upon her graduation from Columbia Law School in 1949, she joined the American Broadcasting Company's legal staff, and in 1958 she went to work for Metromedia, Inc., first serving as assistant general counsel and assistant secretary. In 1974, she became vice president of Metromedia's WNEW-TV and was named associate general counsel of Metromedia in 1985.

In 1992, she became vice president for legal affairs and East Coast litigation, at Fox Television (which had acquired Metromedia) and held that position until her retirement in 2005. During her tenure at Fox, she provided legal counsel to the upstart television program, "A Current Affair" and helped create the Fox News Network. In addition to being a leading First Amendment lawyer, she also worked as an on-air legal commentator, providing legal analysis during the murder trial of OJ Simpson. She hosted a public affairs program, "Sunday Night with Muriel Reis," was a guest host of the program "Midday Live," and made numerous appearances on "Good Day New York" as a legal expert.

She was honored in 1994 by the New York Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences by being inducted into the Silver Circle, an elite group of media professionals who made significant contributions to their industry and their community over a career span of at least 25 years. A lifelong and devoted New Yorker and a graduate of the Brearley School and Vassar College, she felt compelled to contribute to her community and the city she loved. She served on the New York Lawyers' Association Task Force on Judicial Independence and co-chaired the Media Subcommittee. She was a member of the Bar Association of the City of New York and served on its Communication Law Committee.

In addition to her pioneering work as a lawyer, she was a passionate advocate for disadvantaged children. Her desire to help those in need led to her to contribute her time and talents to the Children's Aid Society. She was also a valued member of the board of directors of CASA, an organization of court appointed special advocates working on behalf of children in foster care, as well as a tenacious CASA volunteer, who used her legal skills to help improve the lives of others. She had a brilliant mind, a loving heart and a spirit of generosity that extended to all who knew her.

She was loved by her four grandchildren, Chloe Reis Hyman, Mara Claire McCartin, Elisa Reis McCartin, and Lucas Henle Reis Hyman, her daughter-in-law Marianne McGeary Reis and her sons-in-law, Joseph A. McCartin and Kevin Hyman. She will be deeply missed by her family, friends and professional colleagues.

Contributions in her memory may be made to CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children, 50 Broadway, 31 Floor, New York, NY 10004.

Share your memories or condolences here at Legacy.com.

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