Here’s the problem with covering television news in a local market like, say, Houston.
When a station hires new anchors, the station calls and asks if you’ll do a column about them. The station trots out the anchors at charity events and produces commercials announcing their arrival. There’s no love in TV news like a local station for its new anchors.
But when an anchor leaves, for whatever reason, and I call the station to ask why … “Say that name again? Uh, we’ve never heard of that person. Are you sure you have the name right?”
Usually, I have to track them down like Dog the Bounty Hunter with less jewelry.
Which brings us to Bob Boudreaux, who anchored the news on Channel 13 from 1978 to 2002. For all that time, he was the heir apparent to Dave Ward and the lead 6 and 10 pm anchor chair. Good luck waiting out Ward, who only recently left the station after 50 years on air.
During Boudreaux’s nearly quarter-century at Channel 13, he co-anchored with, deep breath, Shara Fryer, Melanie Lawson, Debbie Johnson, Diana Fallas, Minerva Perez, and Stephanie Guadian. The only one he couldn’t outlast was Ward.
So … whatever happened to Bob Boudreaux?
He’s living in Prague, the Czech Republic, where he’s acting and producing plays. His most recent production was Man of La Mancha. A few years ago, he produced the musical, Always, Patsy Cline, which had a lengthy run in Ireland.
"I came to Prague in 2011 as part of a joint project involving Main Street Theater in Houston and the fledgling Prague Shakespeare Company founded by Houstonian Guy Roberts. We did several shows together and he saw that I could remember my lines and not bump into the scenery. He cast me in two of his productions in Prague," Boudreaux said.
"As soon as I got here, I knew it was a place I wanted to be. I've crossed back and forth from Houston to Prague three or four times a year since. I am going through the process of immigrating to the Czech Republic and have what amounts to legal residency here."
In addition, Boudreaux recently acted in a worldwide commercial for Xerox, and has roles in Genius, starring Geoffrey Rush as Albert Einstein on the National Geographic Channel and the upcoming feature film Borg vs. McEnroe.
“I play a Catholic Cardinal in the Xerox spot. It was a Super Bowl commercial, the one with the monk who must make 500 copies of his hand-written script. In Borg Vs. McEnroe, I have a small role as a friend of the McEnroe family when John was a teenager in Gothenburg, Sweden, which was Borg’s home.
The film shot in Prague, Sweden, and Monaco. It is not so much of a tennis movie as a character study of two men, different personality types, bitter rivals, and fierce competitors who later became best friends.”
Boudreaux, an over-the-top and extremely loud Houston sports fan, still follows the Astros over the Internet. Prague is seven time zones ahead of Houston, so he knows if the Astros won or lost even before the game starts here.
I asked Boudreaux, why Prague?
“I love Prague for its history, abundant culture, and support of theater. I love my ex-pat American friends living here, my new Czech friends, the continuing work opportunities, the joy of political freedom, arguably the world’s most beautiful women, and the world’s best beer,” he said.
“And did I mention that Prague is affordable? Beer is cheaper to order than water, and rents here are about half what they are in Houston. It is a remarkable place for ex-pats with artistic inclinations, much like Paris was in the early 20th century.
“I live in what would be the equivalent of the Memorial section of Houston. I live on the sixth floor of an apartment building in a park-like setting on a hill with a huge American style supermarket right across the street. Prague has a terrific public transit system. I love that I no longer own a car. No road rage, traffic delays, parking hassles, insurance hassles, valet parkers, gas station visits, mechanical breakdowns, tire problems, cracked windshields, and worrying about driving home when I have a few beers after a show.”
I get it, you enjoy not having to own a car.
Finally, is there anything you miss about TV news back in Houston?
“The paycheck,” he said.