C.J.: Paul Magers was anchor during LA colleague's tongue-tied Grammy report

  • Article by: C.J. , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 15, 2011 - 1:58 PM

Former KARE11 uber anchor Paul Magers instantly thought 911 should've been called as he watched his Los Angeles CBS2 colleague Serene Branson's tongue-tied report live from the Grammys.

The video of Branson having trouble talking has gone viral on the Internet. It shows the anchor tossing it to Branson in the field, where she struggled to introduce a Grammys report, aka, a package. Viewers were alarmed and concerned about what happened to her on the air, as it was obvious something was amiss.

"Oh my God, I tell you, I was disturbed," Magers told me Tuesday. "As we were going into our package, I said to our producer, 'Phone 911. There's physically something wrong with her.' And Pat Harvey, whom I work with, what a blessing, said, Is there something wrong with her audio? In other words, was she [Branson] getting her own voice back in her ear piece. I said 'That wasn't an audio issue.'

"No it wasn't it. She wasn't able to put together two syllables that would begin to form a word. I thought, 'She's having a stroke.' Then once we were in her package, and she wasn't on the air, she was still someone incoherent. That's one of the most disturbing things I've ever witnessed."

During the commercial break Magers, who has the penetrating mind of an attorney and a law degree, started thinking of other non-stroke explanations for Branson's behavior. "She was near the end of her day and she had been working 15 hours," said Magers, maybe she was tired or hadn't eaten or wasn't hydrated. "Cause it was warm all day. Then I thought, when you go to those encampments where all those live trucks are, everyone is popping their generator all day long. Even though you are out doors it's easy for there to be an over-abundance of carbon monoxide. But I just kept coming back to God it looked like a stroke."

Branson was not seen on TV again Sunday night. "When I left work it was 12:10, 12:15 a.m., EMTs had just finished checking her out, and all vital signs were fine. And she was going to go home. You can't make people go to the ER. You can certainly recommend it. She went to her doctor yesterday and had tests done," said Magers.

"She's real talented. Smart. She's not an entertainment reporter, she's a general assignment reporter," said Magers.

Branson is one of the reporters who's been chipping in since entertainment reporter Christina McLarty was hired away by "Entertainment Tonight," which is across the lot from the station where Magers now anchors.

C.J. is at 612.332.TIPS or cj@startribune.com. E-mailers, please state a subject -- "Hello" doesn't count. Attachments are not opened, so don't even try. More of her attitude can be seen on FOX 9 Thursday mornings.

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