2011 Flashback: UGA grad, ‘Inside Edition’ host Deborah Norville feeds belugas at the Georgia Aquarium

Deborah Norville at the Georgia Aquarium in early 2011. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com
caption arrowCaption
Deborah Norville at the Georgia Aquarium in early 2011. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Credit: Rodney Ho

Credit: Rodney Ho

caption arrowCaption
Deborah Norville at the Georgia Aquarium in early 2011. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Credit: Rodney Ho

Deborah Norville at the Georgia Aquarium in early 2011. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com
caption arrowCaption
Deborah Norville at the Georgia Aquarium in early 2011. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Credit: Rodney Ho

Credit: Rodney Ho

"Inside Edition" host Deborah Norville said her goal as an undergrad at the  University of Georgia was to become an evening anchor in Atlanta.

Norville, visiting Atlanta last week, ended up on a much bigger national stage, first with  NBC and CBS before landing at “Inside Edition” in 1995.

“In television, you expect your job to last the length of your contract,” said Norville at the Georgia Aquarium, where she fed beluga whales for “Inside Edition” and WGCL-TV cameras. “It’s going to be 16 years. I’m really lucky!”

Norville started her broadcasting career as an intern at WAGA-TV in the late 1970s and worked there as a reporter/anchor after school until 1982.

She recalled covering the shooting of Larry Flynt in Gwinnett County and the notorious missing childrens' case in the early 1980s. Her most memorable moment was interviewing Pres. Jimmy Carter live while she was in college. Before walking into a restaurant, he walked straight up to her and answered a couple of questions.

"I was ready to pee on myself," she said. "I thought, 'This will get me a job out of college!' " She also recalled Sam Donaldson of ABC news ambling up to her moments later and asking what Carter had said. "I felt like Reese Witherspoon in 'Sweet Home Alabama.' " she said. "I said, 'The president's happy be home!' He looked like he bit into a lemon and his lip curled up. He harrumphed and walked away. We laughed about it years later."

A few years earlier, Norville thought she would become a lawyer. Two weeks before she graduated high school, she was at Junior Miss pageant but lacked any obvious talent. “I sewed my own clothes and modeled my own clothes I made. I won the local and state. I went to the national, televised on CBS. I saw these guys working like dogs setting up cameras. I thought, ‘This looks like fun!’ ”

Does she wish she were doing more serious news? “Ours is much more digestible,” she admits. “Any journalist longs to be in the front lines when they believe the problems are real and issues need to be discussed.”

If she weren’t doing journalism, what would she do? ” She whips out Deborah Norville yarn. “Could I retire from this? Probably not. But I’ve always been passionate about crafting. When I first worked in Atlanta, I made $75 a week. I had to make my own clothes. I couldn’t afford to buy any! I’d like to expand this business so it makes money and makes crafts accessible to people.”

She is from Dalton and her family business Norville Industries is part of the textile business. “This is what I know,” she said. “Two of my three sisters work in it.”

Norville also has a funny Monica Pearson story. (She was Monica Kaufman back in the day.)

She remembers in the early 1980s working on the air traffic controllers’ strike story at the FAA. She was in an elevator with her photographer.

A woman looked at Norville and said: “I know you! You’re on TV!”

Norville nodded, happy someone recognized her.

“I watch you all the time,” the woman said.

“Thank you.”

“You’re Monica Kaufman!”

“My camera man nearly dropped the camera,” Norville said, “he was laughing so hard.”

“She’s on Channel 2. We’re on Channel 5,” Norville politely told the woman. “I left it at that! That was my brush with greatness!”

ON TV

“Inside Edition,” hosted by Deborah Norville, 7 p.m. weekdays, WGCL-TV

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