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Posts Tagged ‘Jeff Zucker’

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

Afternoon Reading List 07.11.13.

Why MSNBC’s ratings suck — MSNBC has been the subject of news rather than just a broadcaster of it lately, due to its sharp decline in ratings in the first half of 2013. National Journal’s Matthew Cooper examines why the network has been grasping for air and ratings and why they keep slipping away. To start with, the second quarter of 2013 was full of breaking news — the Boston Marathon bombings, Cleveland kidnappings and the Oklahoma tornadoes. Known as “The Place for Politics,” MSNBC was struggling to keep up with CNN, known as the place for breaking news, and the network’s ratings dropped 10 percent.. And with Jeff Zucker at the helm, CNN looks like it will continue to draw more viewers. MSNBC’s evening line-up, according to industry insiders, has become too sophisticated for their audience, as well as completely lacking in diversity. On Fox News, Sean Hannity, Greta Van Susteren and Bill O’Reilly are, while all conservative, very different. Some right-wingers are saying the network is falling apart or collapsing, but Cooper suggests it’s just in a vulnerable place at the moment.

Why you should read it: MSNBC’s struggles this summer have been making headlines, and Cooper offers insight into why the network’s ratings have plummeted.

Another fishy list of journalists — A year after the infamous JournoList was shut down (hello Dave Weigel and Ezzy Klein!), a new secret discussion forum made up of political journalists came into being. No, they’re not conspiring to create talking points for their political parties. In fact, they’re completely bipartisan and never discuss politics. The common thread holding them together is their undying and unquenchable love for the band Phish. As TNR’s Marc Tracy reports, the forum began two years ago by Bloomberg TV’s Jake Beckman after he noticed references to the band by political journalist Phishheads on Twitter. Called “Journophish,” its now made up of about two dozen political journalists—and only journalists, no political operators, press secretaries, etc. The group chats about upcoming shows, trades tickets and shares songs and Phish trivia. Some of the list includes National Review’s Robert Costa, Politico’s Jake Sherman (of course), CNN’s Stephanie Gallman, social media folks at MSNBC and The Daily Beast, along with a few others. In addition to his own application to be included in “Journophish” Tracy manages to slip in a “This Town” reference.

Why you should read it: Phishheads are relentless in their efforts to find other Phishheads, and this is quite an entertaining look something that some political journalists probably spend way too much time doing.

Read more

Zucker Expresses Pride for Emmy Nominations

CNN’s Jeff Zucker is out with another warm and fuzzy memo for employees. This time on account of the fact that the network has been nominated for eight news and documentary Emmy awards.

See the memo… Read more

Morning Reading List 06.17.13.

European Parliament wants to be Congress — A poll released by Gallup last week showed that only 10 percent of Americans approve of Congress, the lowest ever recorded. The Daily Caller’s Alex Pappas, however, reports from Strasbourg, France that the legislative body is much more popular across the Atlantic. In fact, many in the European Parliament are looking to emulate the political and legislative system of America. Some have even called for the establishment of a controversial new political system, which is being called the “United States of Europe.” Europe apparently even has their own Ron Paul, as Pappas labels him. Daniel Hannan is a conservative member of the European Parliament who essentially doesn’t think the body, or any type of European integration, should exist. Secretary General of the European Parliament Klaus Welle said while most in the European Parliament do want to replicate Congress, one thing they don’t want to emulate is the approval rating.

CNN making itself more relevant — CNN is further broadening its lineup to focus on long form docs instead of politics, and, as Michael Wolff writes in his USA Today column, that’s a good thing. New shows from Morgan Spurlock (the Super Size Me guy) and Ridley Scott launched Sunday and continue the break from its traditional 24/7 news format. Americans, as Wolff says, have become apathetic with politics. Jeff Zucker, the new leader of CNN, is focused on human interest, and believes that will get people watching between the breaking news stories that Wolff says is the network’s “meat.” In between these stories of war, crime, weather and other general mayhem, the news audience drifts to their respective sides to watch talking heads on MSNBC or Fox News, leaving CNN grasping for viewers. With more action and more subjects, such as America’s fascination with marijuana (the subject of one of Spurlock’s Inside Man episodes), Zucker, and Wolff, believe it will draw a larger audience of people who are tired of hearing about politics and more interested in things that they can personally relate with, such as pot.

See our last pick… Read more

CNN’s Zucker Offers Feel-Good Memo

CNN’s Jeff Zucker issued yet another warm memo to employees today. This one concerning the awards the network reeled in last night at the Radio and TV Congressional Correspondents’ Association Dinner.

“There are a lot of ways we know our programming is making an impact,” he wrote. “These types of awards are an important one.”

Have a look. Read more

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