Published January 02, 2009
NEW YORK – Filmmaker George Butler wants his friends to know he's very much alive, despite a premature obituary on "The Charlie Rose Show" this week.
During Rose's annual New Year's Eve tribute on PBS to notable figures who during the year, he included Butler, whose 1977 film "Pumping Iron" featured a then-unknown bodybuilder named Arnold Schwarzenegger. The screen even flashed a Butler tombstone, 1943-2008.
The PBS show had confused him with another George Butler, a longtime jazz record executive who signed Wynton Marsalis, who died April 9.
What's odd about the mistake is that Rose and Butler are old friends through Rose's first wife, meeting shortly after they graduated from college in North Carolina.
Butler, who lives in Holderness, N.H. and is making a film on Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, didn't see his obit but learned about it when a fellow filmmaker called. He found out that some friends in New York were even planning a wake.
"I am bemused," he said. "Charlie did a great job in retracting the huge error. Still, it's very disconcerting."
At least he was in good company, Butler said, noting that he was featured with Paul Newman, Tim Russert and William F. Buckley. A contrite Rose was on the phone with him three times on New Year's Day to apologize, he said.
Rose, who did not immediately respond to e-mail messages seeking comment, apologized at the opening of Thursday's show.
"The George Butler who is my friend is alive and well and living in New Hampshire," Rose said. "We apologize to him and his friends, and look forward to having him on the program in the new year."