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Posts Tagged ‘Amy Entelis’

John King is Safe on CNN Survivor

CNN’s John King, long thought to be on the outs with the network after “John King USA” went belly up and personal issues marred internal relations, has had his contract renewed. In the game of CNN Survivor, under the new regime of President Jeff Zucker, King is safe.

Others  may not be as fortunate. Read more

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CNN ‘Starting Point’ Staffers Brace Themselves

The announcement that CNN is totally revamping its morning show and scrapping Soledad O’Brien‘s “Starting Point” has sent shivers through her staff.

Insiders tell us Executive VP Ken Jautz and VP Bart Feder addressed the staff after the show went off the air today. Suffice it to say, the era of Jeff Zucker is underway.

In a nutshell, the execs said they have no answers for the staff and were unable to address most of their questions. Members of the staff were assured their jobs were safe, but one veteran of the changing show carousel at CNN says they would be naive to believe that.

“Every single one of these people should be preparing their resumes and trying to get out of that building as fast as possible,” a network insider told FishbowlDC, explaining that staffers are worried for their jobs. The prevailing feeling is that O’Brien, who previously worked with Zucker at NBC, will end up in another role.

For the month of January, “Starting Point” drew an average of 264,000 viewers. MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” drew 468,000 and FNC’s “Fox & Friends” drew 1.07 million. “Morning Express” on HLN drew 218,000. The broadcast shows (CBS, ABC, NBC) drew millions more than any of the aforementioned programs. In other words, “Starting Point” is behind everyone except its sister network HLN, and HLN is getting close.

Another network insider with a vantage point to this morning’s meeting said it was hilarious to watch Jautz and Feder address the “Starting Point” staff, considering they were two of the main culprits who contributed to the potential demise and dismantling of the show.

From day one, “Starting Point” was in disarray, according to multiple sources aware of the drama going on behind the scenes of the show. It wasn’t supposed to debut in January, 2012, but the decision was made to rush it on the air to coincide with the Iowa caucus. From its launch the show was never fully staffed; all the promises of branding and promotion never materialized; and the constant executive in-fighting over what to do with the show angered its host and staff.

Former CNN Managing Editor Mark Whitaker, who announced his resignation Tuesday, loved the panel format because he desired the show to have the same buzz as MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” But Jautz hated the panel, resulting in it being downsized from 7-9 a.m. to 7:30 to 9 a.m. And when Soledad was off, the panel was only on from 8-9 a.m.

Jautz also detested a single-anchor format. He preferred a two-anchor format, even going as far as focus-group testing Brooke Baldwin and John Berman when O’Brien was away.

So as Whitaker and Jautz waged a constant battle over who would control the destiny of CNN – a scenario set up by then-CNN President Jim Walton when he divided up the duties of Jon Klein when he was canned – “Early Start” and “Starting Point” were ground zero for their battle.

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Can a Married Couple Save CNN?

The dynamic CNN duo of Mark Whitaker and Amy Entelis were at it again Friday, shooting another pilot that they hope could potentially be the savior for a network going through growing pains.

Whitaker, Executive VP and managing editor of CNN Worldwide, and his hire to head program development, Entelis, are joined at the hip in trying to come up with new ideas for the network, desperately hoping the next boss will keep them around when the anticipated senior executive bloodletting comes to pass.

Who is playing Batman and Robin this time? CNN contributors John Avlon and Margaret Hoover an independent and moderate conservative on air, and off, married. That’s right, CNN is seriously thinking about launching a show with a married couple. They’re no James Carville and Mary  Matalin, a big liberal and conservative. Some still find them entertaining.

Avlon, a columnist for The Daily Beast, has fast become a favorite of the CNN suits in New York, especially with Whitaker, a longtime member of the NY/DC media elite who, insiders say, would love nothing more than turn CNN into a TV version of the NYT.

Avlon is the designated independent voice on the network, even though he is a former speechwriter for former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. He also has a fantastic head of hair.

Hoover, a middle-of-the-road conservative, also has the kind of pedigree that makes Whitaker salivate. She’s the great-granddaughter of former president Herbert Hoover; an author; and landed at CNN several months ago after failing to come to contractual terms with Fox News. She also brings some of that Fox News hotness, which some think CNN could stand to adopt.

The pilots generated by the program development unit at CNN have left much to be desired as of late, so Entelis reached out to the force behind the CNN Heroes initiative, Kelly Flynn, to helm the pilot. She was a former exec in the program development unit when CNN’s former Executive Director of Program and Talent Development  Joel Cheatwood, who left for Fox News and is now Exec. VP of Mercury Radio Arts, ran the joint. (Boy is he missed!).

Entelis, Flynn, Avlon and Hoover spent all of Friday shooting the pilot in New York, hoping it will be good enough to impress outgoing CNN head honcho Jim Walton, and Phil Kent, head of Turner. With Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes applying the pressure to resuscitate the dying brand, the effort has an urgent feel.

But Avlon and Hoover should beware of mixing it up on the air. The last CNN married couple that was seen daily – John King and Dana Bash – later headed for Splitsville. Sure, she wasn’t a co-host on John King, U.S.A., but she was on so much when it launched that it should have been called the John and Dana Show.

Is ‘Unconventional Wisdom’ What CNN Needs?

Despite the cancellation of CNN’s “John King, USA” and the recent announcement by Worldwide CEO Jim Walton that he’s a goner by the end of the year, the CNN DC bureau is trying to remain relevant. So last week they shot a pilot.

Could this be the shot in the arm they need?

The show is called “Unconventional Wisdom,” and is a pet project of CNN’s managing editor Mark Whitaker, who oversees the network’s program development unit.

One of the participants is Gloria Borger, CNN’s Queen of Conventional Wisdom. Shot in the DC’s bureau glitzy new studio, another CNN’er involved is legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

Among the bigwigs involved in the pilot is Eric Sherling, CNN’s director of DC Programming, and Amy Entelis, who joined CNN in January as Senior Vice President for Talent and Content Development for CNN Worldwide.

Memo to Mark, Amy and Eric: you better hope the pilot tickles the fancy of Walton. The last time CNN’s remarkably boring DC bigwigs shot a pilot, the reconstituted “Capital Gang,” a typical inside-the-Beltway show that so awful Walton couldn’t stomach 10 minutes of it and reamed out the executives assembled, got up, and left.

Shortly thereafter in March, CNN announced longtime employee Sue Bunda, executive VP of content development and strategy, left to pursue other opportunities. In fact, she was forced out after the horrible “Capitol” pilot. Four months later, her chief lieutenant, Randy Subarsky, vice president of development, was told she was toast but was allowed to finish out the year. Also shown the door was DC bureau chief David Bohrman, now president of Current TV.

Better make the show shine, Mark, Amy and Eric. Your future boss could be watching!

CNN Trying to Poach ABC’s Jake Tapper

CNN is trying to lure ABC News Senior White House Correspondent Jake Tapper away from ABC. FishbowlDC has learned that Executive V.P. and Managing Editor for CNN Worldwide Mark Whitaker and CNN Senior V.P. Amy Entelis have been making serious overtures to Tapper and his reps. We hear the network is trying their best to figure out a “game changer” and have their eyes on Tapper.

Entelis obviously has a strong tie to ABC — she was a 30-year network veteran who was V.P. of talent and strategy. She left ABC in January. Tapper is presently under contract with ABC. CNN is also trying to recruit ABC News Correspondent John Berman to do news on a morning show.

Tapper is legally bound to ABC until his contract runs out, but it is not unusual for other networks to begin the poaching process well before future contractual decisions are locked into place.

Industry sources say the collective wisdom is that Tapper is waiting patiently in the wings to one day host of “This Week.” We’ve requested comment from both CNN and ABC.