Leland Vittert: With Fox 31 anchor's departure, another Best Hair winner goes national

The fastest way for a local television journalist to make the leap to a national network has nothing to do with scooping the competition on a groundbreaking story that produces headlines around the globe.

Nope, it's all about the hair -- especially at Fox News, whose reporters are among the most spectacularly coiffed in the broadcast biz. As evidence, note that Channel 31's Leland Vittert is the second recent winner of Westword's coveted Best Hair on a TV News Personality -- Male prize to be hired as a Fox News correspondent.

On last night's late news show, Vittert announced that he's been chosen to serve as Fox News' Jerusalem correspondent -- and he's certainly well qualified from a follicle perspective, as the blurb announcing his 2008 Best Hair award demonstrates. It reads:

How do the managers at Denver's Fox affiliate keep finding so many on-air dudes with great 'dos? Could they have a deal with the devil -- or maybe Paul Mitchell? Whatever the case, Leland Vittert displays hair heroics in the glorious tradition of such predecessors as Phil Keating and Jeremy Hubbard, sporting a pillowy coiffure that floats over his cranium like the sort of brown cloud not even the Environmental Protection Agency would dare oppose. And while his hair looks soft and pliable, it stays put no matter the climactic condition -- as if the gods themselves wouldn't dare mess with such perfection. Hmm, maybe Fox does have a deal with the devil.

The item above makes note of Phil Keating, Vittert's spectacular hair predecessor during his days with 9News and Channel 31, and now such a well-known Fox Newser that he's got his own fan page on the FN website. Indeed, Keating's mop was such a standout that he earned Westword Best Hair nods twice. Here's the text from his 2001 triumph:

The hippest man in local TV, Phil Keating, also has the hippest hair -- a variation on the messy look that allows a strand or two to snake down over his forehead in a pleasingly post-coital way. Watch him in bed for an extra thrill.

And we bid farewell to Keating in 2004 by creating a category just for him: Best Hair on a Departing TV Personality:

Best hair? Make that best everything. For a decade, Phil Keating was the arousing, carousing, good-time party boy of the Denver news community, and he filled this position with the poise of an Armani model. Now that he's moved from Channel 31, a Fox affiliate, to a Dallas-based gig as a Fox News network correspondent, the local tube is notably less swank. But like the trail of pricey cologne Keating would often leave in his wake, his influence lingers.

Vittert is proof of that. As for those who'd like to work for Channel 31 in the future, they should make sure they have a killer reel -- but most of all, they should brush up on their hairstyle.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts