Everybody Has A Story, Flashbacks

Every two weeks someone threw a dart at a map of America. CBS News correspondent Steve Hartmanthen went wherever it stuck, flipped through the local phone book, and picked a name at random. He then did a story on someone at that house (assuming they were willing, of course).

It didn't matter who they were or what they had to say. This was strictly first come, first served. No one was eliminated for any reason and every story got on the air. The result - unique and wildly unpredictable television.

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Everybody Has a Story, Alaska

After meeting a family and convincing them that he really wasn't selling anything, Steve and his cameraman Les Rose usually spent about 2 days with their subjects. Much of the first day was spent trying to figure out the person's "story". The second day was mostly shooting and interviewing. Before leaving, the subject of the story threw the dart (backwards and over the shoulder to prevent aiming) sending them on their next adventure.

The project started in 1998 and ran through 2004 when Steve reluctantly gave up the project to serve as a commentator on 60 Minutes II. When all was said and done, Steve had profiled nearly 100 people from Maine to Miami -- from the Oregon coast to the Arizona desert. His youngest subject was a 5-year-old boy from Tennessee who liked to float balloons to his grandmain heaven. His oldest was an 87-year-old woman from Louisiana who still does her son's laundry.

The idea for "Everybody Has a Story" came from a newspaper reporter named David Johnson. Johnson works for the Lewiston, Idaho Morning Tribune. For more than 2 decades he has been picking people out of his local phone book and putting their stories on the front page. After interviewing David in '94, Hartman tried the idea himself. "I was doing it more or less as a joke," Hartman said years later. "I never dreamed you could actually find good stories like that. Turns out I couldn't have been more wrong. Like David, I now believe the white pages are chock full of amazing, untold stories."

  • Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.

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