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Posts Tagged ‘Phil Kent’

Harvard’s Institute of Politics Names 2014 IOP Fall Resident Fellows

Photo courtesy of Harvard's IOP

Photo courtesy of Harvard’s IOP

Harvard’s Institute of Politics today announced its 2014 IOP Fall Resident Fellows. They include Kristen Soltis Anderson, co-founder of the Alexandria-based Echelon Insights; Frank Fahrenkopf, co-chairman, Commission on Presidential Debates; Christine Gregoire, former governor and attorney general of Washington; Anton J. Gunn, former director of external affairs, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS); Phil Kent, former chief executive officer of Turner Broadcasting System Inc.; and Valerie Biden Owens, sister of VP Joe Biden and campaign chair, Biden for President (1988, 2008).

Fellows will relocate to Cambridge for the fall semester and conduct weekly “study groups” on the topic of current events for the educational benefit of Harvard students and community members.

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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.

Breaking: CNN’s Jim Walton Resigns

CNN President Jim Walton, who has been with the company for 30 years, has announced that he’s resigning. He will remain with the network until the end of the year.

“CNN needs new thinking,” Walton wrote in a note to staff this morning. “I have interests to explore, I need to give myself time to do [them].”

See various quotes and his note after the jump…

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Wolf Shines at RTDNF First Amendment Awards

The Radio Television Digital News Foundation held court last night at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Washington D.C..   Journalists from around the country attended the black-tie affair to celebrate the 2011 First Amendment Award recipients: CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Hearst’s David Barrett and Raycom’s Susana Schuler, and pay tribute to the tenth anniversary of September 11th.  The program also honored nine reporters who displayed special poise and bravery during the 9/11 attacks.  ABC’s Martha Raddatz, ABC Radio’s Ann Compton, Warren Levinson of AP Radio, CBS’s Byron Pitts, CBS Radio’s Charlie Kaye, Jeanne Meserve of CNN, Rick Leventhal of Fox News, NBC’s Rehema Ellis and NPR’s Melissa Block all received special recognition for their dedication to journalism during the national crisis.

Guests at the event were treated to a luxe, three-course meal including scallop appetizer, tender beef entree and tasty chocolate pastry dessert.  And though the dinner was delightful, the highlight of the night was certainly the presentation of the Leonard Zeidenberg Award to Wolf Blitzer.  The award was presented by Turner Broadcasting Chairman and CEO Phil Kent who gushed, “I love this guy”  before playing a hilarious video tribute to the Wolf-man (below and worth the watch).

*Interesting side note:  Blitzer takes off on a whirlwind tour with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton next week.  Among their destinations: Egypt and Tunisia.