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Posts Tagged ‘Jeff Zucker’

CNN Joins Upfronts in NYC

cnnupfront

Upfront season is upon us. This is the time of year when the networks come out to pitch their new prime time dramas and sitcoms to advertisers. But in a bid to generate buzz about their lineup, CNN will be in attendance as well.

CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker had said 2014 would be the year he shook up prime time. Wonder what he’s got in store?

 

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Tapper Takes Morgan’s Time Slot for a Test Drive

With “Piers Morgan Live” now but a distant memory, the competition for Morgan’s old slot has begun in earnest. Tonight,  Jake Tapper starts a week of double shift duty -he will host both a 4:00 pm and a 9:00 pm version of “The Lead” -in an effort to show that he can be the prime-time star Jeff Zucker is looking for.

While we hear that Tapper is the favorite for the gig, Zucker will also reportedly try out Michael SmerconishBill Weir, and Don Lemon in the hour.

After each potential host has auditioned, Zucker will then subject them all to endurance trials and a gross-out eating contest before forcing them to live together in a house for one month. Only then will Americans have the chance to vote for their favorite.

At least, we’re pretty sure that’s how it works.

Internal Memo: March Proves Record-Breaking Month for CNN Digital

Screen Shot 2014-03-31 at 11.51.59As March comes to a close, CNN has been getting some flak for their wall-to-wall coverage of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. But while that mystery has dominated their television programming, other big stories are also getting play online. Along with the ironically ubiquitous missing plane, the tense situation in Ukraine, the Oscar Pistorius trial, and the recent landslide in Washington state have all kept CNN readers glued to computers and mobile devices.

A recent memo from CNN President Jeff Zucker highlights the network’s successes for March as the best month ever for page views and video streams across domestic and international desktop sites and mobile web traffic.

The whole internal memo after the jump…
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Fishbowl Five: SOTU with CNN’s Peter Hamby

Peter HambyPeter Hamby occupies a unique position within CNN. There are now three full time digital correspondents working for CNN, but Hamby was the first -and still the only one covering politics.  As such he makes TV hits, and appears in web videos and writes for the web. And for tonight’s state of the union coverage, he will be moderating a “Politi-cast” of the speech via live stream on CNN.com. Hamby will do a sort of “play by play” of the SOTU, with friends Tommy Vietor, a former Obama White House spox, and Tim Miller, a former RNC flack. They will offering running commentary -smartphones in hand -that will tap into live reaction of the speech on Twitter and the immediate impact it is having on other social media.

Coverage begins when Peter and Co. “roll into the set a little bit before the speech and get settled in,” and will go through the Republican and Tea Party responses. The trio will be tweeting during the stream, and if you want to participate in the conversation, they will be using the hashtag #CNNSOTU. Of course, if, for some reason, you just want to watch the speech itself  without commentary (BORING!) you can do that to via another CNN feed. Or you could just watch TV.

We talked with Hamby over the phone to get a better idea of what he has planned for tonight’s digital coverage:

Where did the idea for this “play by play” coverage come from?

During the conventions, someone had the crazy idea to let me do a web show from the grill, both in Charlotte and Tampa. And the idea was to just talk about politics and dissect the conventions and the sate of the campaign in a more causal and maybe irreverent sort of vibe. And they gave me the green light to book the guests I wanted. Now I’m 32, I’m not that young, but if you look at the pundit class that appears on the Sunday shows, they all tend to be older, the tend to be former officials. So I got some journalists, people who were working in politics, people around my age. And the conversation felt very authentic and very natural, and it was very fun. So this is replicating that a little bit.

It’ll be me and Tim and Tommy watching the speech, adding informed commentary -it’s going to be a little edgier, a little more irreverent. The feeling we’re going for really is: What people who work in politics do and say as they’re watching an event like this. We’re providing an option for people who want more voices in the room. We’re going to be reading Twitter and making a few jokes and adding our insight to what the president says and the Republican responses after.

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CNN Takes Another Step Away From News

CNN announced today that they will be adding another documentary development brand to their roster called CNN Films Presents. CNN already established a division in October 2012 called CNN Films that acquires and distributes never-before-seen-on-TV documentary programming. The new Presents brand will aimed at acquiring and distributing films that have already made their television debut.

In a press release, CNN said that the first two films to be broadcast will be the acclaimed 2005 doc March of the Penguins and the 2012 doc The Imposter -about a Frenchman who impersonated a missing child. March of the Penguins will be aired January 2nd and The Imposter January 23rd.

This is another example of Jeff Zucker‘s recently articulated vision for shaking things up at CNN. Zucker wants the traditionally news-focused network to expand its programming offerings. The idea is to get away from the politics-driven news cycle dominated by FOX and MSNBC, and instead compete with the likes of Discovery, NatGeo, and A&E.

CNN Names Stelter Host of Reliable Sources

It’s official – CNN has named a new host for its DC-based, Sunday morning media criticism show Reliable Sources. The post, vacated by Howard Kurtz back in June, will be filled by New York Times boy wonder and mediabistro alum Brian Stelter.

Stelter emerged victorious from a crowded field of guest hosts including Politico’s Patrick Gavin, NPR’s David Folkenflik, and The Daily Beast’s John Avlon.

“Brian has emerged as one of the top media reporters in the country and will be a great addition to our many platforms,” said CNN chief Jeff Zucker in a statement.  “He grew up in the digital space, and has covered the media industry for his entire career.”

In addition to his weekend hosting duties, Stelter will bid adieu to the Grey Lady to become CNN’s senior media correspondent, reporting daily across all the network’s platforms including CNN.com and CNNMoney.com. His first day at CNN will be November 25, and his first show will air December 1.

Stelter, who in 2004 founded FishbowlDC’s sister blog TVNewser, joined the New York Times in 2007.  Earlier this year he published the NYT best-selling book, Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV.

 

Christa Robinson to Tribune

Christa_robinson

Photo courtesy of HuffPo.

Christa Robinson, DC native and longtime head of communications for CNN, has landed a new job. The fourteen-year vet left the company in February when new network chief Jeff Zucker replaced her with Allison Gollust. In an email to friends and colleagues, Robinson announced that she has accepted a new role as chief communications officer of Tribune Company starting today.

DC Bureau Spared In Latest Round of CNN Layoffs

cnnAfter a quiet culling at their Washington bureau back in June, CNN has made another round of layoffs -this time at it’s New York, LA, and Atlanta bureaus. The cuts come as new President Jeff Zucker is seeking to revamp CNN in his own vision. Key reforms Zucker has instituted so far include a revival of DC-based “Crossfire,” and bringing on non-traditional talent such as Anthony Bourdain and Morgan Spurlock. CNN Films has also made a splash under Zucker with the release of its documentary Blackfish about the atrocious living condition of captive killer whales, which has won widespread attention on the Internet and has even been credited with tanking SeaWorld’s stock value. It’s unclear if even more personnel changes are in the offing.

Behind the Scenes on Election Night At CNN

We have a pretty good idea where you guys went to watch the election results come in. And while we desperately wanted to drink as well, we got an invite we just couldn’t refuse: the Crossfire Control Room at CNN.

Sam FeistUpon arriving at the First Street NE bureau we bumped into Sam Feist, DC Bureau Chief. He ushered us into his office where we peered over his shoulder at some early election results. “This is strictly off the record, of course.” Of course.  An excited Feist launched in to an explanation of how off year election coverage differs from a general election just as CNNPolitics.com editor Bryan Monroe walked in.  Monroe grabbed a handful of Jelly Bellies from a crystal bowl before assuring Feist that CNN.com’s election interactive was primed with the first round of voter data.

Soon we were off to the control room, where Crossfire Supervising Producer David Chalian was covering for EP Rebecca Kutler.  As we watched on what seemed like hundreds of screens, Van Jones and Newt Gingrich argued amicably, and the normally sedate Donna Brazile laced into the Tea Party with uncharacteristic zeal. Digital producer Eric Weisbrod sat quietly in the front, headset on, watching the screens intently. A nod to new CNN Chief Jeff Zucker’s digital focus?  controlroom

The show wrapped to light applause, and the crowded control room emptied quickly as people scrambled to get dinner –they all had to be back for an 11:30 post-election live hour with Newt and Van. The stars of the show were in a similar mindset. We caught up with them in the hallway as Van called out, “Hey Newt, isn’t there supposed to be free food around here?” Mr. Speaker shrugged, “I think it’s on floor 9?”

In the elevator ride down, Newt, with professorial ease, opined about the state of the California Republican party. Of a Crossfire guest who shall remain nameless he said, “I’m not sure _____ is too comfortable talking about that stuff.” Newt, of course, is comfortable talking about everything. Van was upbeat, even though he just came in from California, where he spends half his time overseeing four non-profits. So upbeat in fact, that he agreed to sit down with FishbowlDC for a quick chat –after his tacos of course. More on that convo to come…

CNN “Crossfire” Party Packs a Punch

“It was terr i fy ying,” said CNN “Crossfire” host Van Jones, careful to enunciate every syllable when asked about his first night on the job.

At least at the Crossfire launch party held last night at the Carnegie Library he could finally let his hair down (so to speak) and enjoy a night with friends, colleagues, booze and a band.

His co-hosts popped in the crowd — Newt Gingrich with his big, shiny helmet of white hair, S.E. Cupp in a purple leather sleeveless dress and Stephanie Cutter in power red.

Meanwhile, others mingled: Newt’s wife, Callista held her own with her perfect, shiny, white-blond bob,  former “Crossfire” host Paul Begala wished the new hosts well, as Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) and fiancé, Maria Belen Chapur, attracted flashbulbs on the red carpet while a very thin Caroline Kennedy, President Obama’s nominee for Amb. to Japan, drew stares. Others spotted around the room: WJLA’s Rebecca Cooper, conservative radio host Laura Ingraham, The Weekly Standard Editor Bill Kristol (who is far shorter in person than we imagined), FNC’s Greta Van Susteren and husband, John Coale, WaPo‘s Jackie Kucinich, ex-TWT Editor Sam Dealey, TWT‘s senior opinion writer Emily Miller, The Daily Caller‘s Alex Pappas, Politico‘s Dylan Byers, The Hill‘s Emily Goodin, CQ Roll Call‘s Abby Livingston, Slate‘s Dave Weigel, TIME‘s Michael Crowley, MSNBC’s Karen Finney, lefty radio host Bill Press, Speaker John Boehner‘s spokesman Michael Steel and wife, Mary Kathryn Covert, lobbyist Jack Quinn and wife, Susanna, Americans for Tax Reform Prez Grover Norquist, NRSC’s fiery Brad Dayspring, and consultant Brian Walsh.

CNNer’s spotted in the crowd: CNN President Jeff Zucker, Washington Bureau Chief Sam Feist, Jessica Yellin, Dana Bash, Brianna Keilar, Wolf Blitzer, Gloria Borger, Candy Crowley (without a shred of makeup), Wendell Goler, Matt Dornic, and Edie Emery.

Asked about Cupp, his conservative co-host, Jones said, “S.E. is the most likeable person ever born. I think they created her in a lab. She hypnotizes you and then she goes in for the kill.”

Cupp also had a thing or two to say about Jones. Read more

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