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Morning Media Newsfeed: Couric Back to NBC? | Logan’s CBS Return Unsure | #AmazonCart Launches

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Katie Couric in Talks to Co-Host Today (New York Post)
Katie Couric is in preliminary talks to head back to NBC’s Today – at least on a temporary basis. Couric is a contender to sit in and co-host the No. 2 morning show while Savannah Guthrie is on maternity leave, sources say. TVNewser “With the Today show in a good place, we are blessed with great talent and many options to temporarily fill Savannah’s chair while she’s on leave, but there’s no plan yet,” an NBC spokeswoman said. In March, Couric recounted the last time she filled in on the Today show for a pregnant co-anchor. It was early 1991 when Deborah Norville, who’d been co-host of Today for 14 months, gave birth. Couric would go on to be named co-anchor, where she’d remain for 15 years. Mediaite Couric’s career has touched each of the three big networks (NBC, CBS and ABC), and now she is the global news anchor for Yahoo! News. Couric guest co-hosted Good Morning America back in 2012 on the same day Sarah Palin guest-hosted on Today. Mashable A deal to bring Couric back might be difficult, as she currently works for Yahoo!, which has a deal with ABC to share news content. Couric is one of Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer’s biggest signings, inking the anchor to a $6 million per year deal. Getting Couric even for a short stint would be big for Today, as putting the old band back together could help the show to reclaim its past lead over rival GMA. Former co-anchors Couric and Matt Lauer haven’t been behind the desk together since Couric left Today in 2006. TheWrap The beloved former Today host would be contractually free to rejoin the show in the fall, should early speculation pan out the way that many fans probably hope it will. Former Today co-host Meredith Vieira has also been named in media reports as one of those potential seat-fillers.

‘The Proverbial Perfect Storm’ of Lara Logan’s Benghazi Report (New York Magazine)
In an in-depth report for New York magazine, Joe Hagan pieces together “the proverbial perfect storm” that led to Lara Logan’s now-infamous Benghazi report on 60 Minutes last year. TVNewser The piece focuses on executive producer Jeff Fager’s leadership of 60 Minutes, as well as Logan’s rapid rise at CBS News, reportedly orchestrated in part because CBS chairman Les Moonves saw her “steely eyes, breathless delivery and exotic accent as the raw material of a future star.” Variety Logan’s status with the program came into question after the publication of the New York article, which said her return “in recent weeks has not appeared certain” in the aftermath of an embarrassing flub she made in an Oct. 27 segment about U.S. operations in Benghazi, Libya. Logan is still expected to return to 60 Minutes, according to two people familiar with the situation, though the exact timeline remains unclear. HuffPost The report started unraveling four days after airing, following revelations that security contractor Dylan Davies, the 60 Minutes eyewitness, had given conflicting stories about his whereabouts during the attack. As reported by Hagan, Logan’s work on Benghazi only elevated concerns that she was out of control. Morley Safer, a veteran of the show for 45 years, demanded that Fager fire Logan, according to Hagan. HuffPost Media Matters chairman David Brock is urging top CBS News executives to re-open the network’s internal investigation over its discredited 60 Minutes report on the Benghazi attack. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media Brock’s chief complaint: CBS’ internal review claimed Logan had reached out to the FBI and the State Department regarding her discredited source Davies. As reported in November, Logan did not reach out to the FBI. Brock also faults CBS for failing to note Logan’s conversations with Sen. Lindsey Graham, a fierce critic of the Obama administration’s handling of the attack.

Twitter Launches #AmazonCart, Allows Users to Shop Amazon From Twitter (AllTwitter)
Twitter and Amazon have partnered to bring users #AmazonCart — a hashtag that puts products you see on Twitter into your Amazon cart. GigaOM The hashtag will add most Amazon products into your shopping cart when you reply to a tweet that contains an Amazon product URL. You’ll need to connect your Amazon account to your Twitter account, which can be done in the social settings menu. The account @myamazon will reply to your tweet fairly quickly to tell you whether the system was able to add the product to your cart. WSJ / Personal Tech While the hashtag system is an easy one to use, it is a public broadcast of what you hope to buy, not to mention free advertising for Amazon, powered by you and your tweets. Julie Law, an Amazon spokeswoman, said that the Twitter collaboration isn’t about turning customers into promotional machines, though. CNET It’s potentially a new business model for Twitter, which so far has relied on sponsored tweets for revenue, but has struggled both with growth and figuring out a way to make money off its 255 million monthly active users. For Amazon, adding another convenient way for its consumers to buy products just fuels its primary business. An Amazon spokeswoman said Twitter doesn’t get revenue from the items added to the shopping carts through #AmazonCart, but declined to further discuss its relationship with Twitter.

National CineMedia Buys Screenvision for $375 Million (Adweek)
National CineMedia (NCM) is buying its largest competitor, Screenvision, for $225 million in cash and $150 million in stock, the companies announced late on Monday. Once the transaction closes, the Screenvision brand will be folded into NCM. Deadline Hollywood NCM shares were up about 10 percent in after-market trading following the agreement, which pretty much locks up the market for movie theater ad sales. After the deal, NCM will serve 210 markets in all 50 states, with 34,000 screens that reach more than 1.1 billion patrons a year. THR NCM, a public company, is primarily controlled by three of the nation’s largest cinema circuits: AMC Entertainment Inc., Cinemark Holdings, Inc. and Regal Entertainment Group. NCM currently reaches more than 19,800 screens, representing 63 percent of the moviegoing audience. The acquisition already has been approved by the boards of both NCM and Screenvision. It still must clear some regulatory approval hurdles.

PBS Digital Studios Announces New Original Series at First NewFront Event (LostRemote)
PBS became the latest traditional TV network to host its first NewFront event this spring. The event in NYC was a platform for the network to announce a new slate of original digital programming. THR The public broadcaster announced that two of the series — linguistics program Bongo Bongo and culinary series Food Buzz — launched Monday on its YouTube network. Both series were produced in partnership with Magnet Media. Debuting later this year is PBS Digital Studios’ first scripted series, Frankenstein, M.D. Additionally, Pancake Mountain, a reboot of the music variety show, will launch this summer. Variety The new series bowing on YouTube and other platforms will join PBS Digital Studios’ current lineup of 30-plus original shows. PBS Digital Studios, launched in 2012, has more than 1 million subscribers on YouTube and has generated 75 million views. The shows, available on YouTube, Roku, Xbox, Apple TV and PBS.org, average more than 5 million streams each month.

Village Roadshow Inks Co-Finance Deal With Sony Pictures (Variety)
Warner Bros.’ longtime financial partner Village Roadshow Pictures has cut a similar co-financing deal with the Burbank studio’s crosstown rival, Sony Pictures Entertainment, say people familiar with the arrangement. The Sony agreement, which is currently being finalized, will initially cover four upcoming movies: The Equalizer, Annie and two 2015 releases: Grimsby and Goosebumps. The deal is expected to extend to many more future movies, these sources say. Deadline Hollywood The supplementary financing deal between Village Roadshow and Sony won’t trump Village Roadshow’s longtime co-financing partnership with Warner Bros., whose first-look deal most recently yielded the blockbuster $450 million animated hit The Lego Movie. The Bruce Berman-led Village Roadshow will keep its home in Burbank at WB, where it has been for 17 years. THR Sony has been eager to find additional financial partners after securing a $200 million slate deal with LStar Capital. That deal is far smaller than a previous slate deal with Ryan Kavanaugh’s Relativity Media.

Qatar Planning New Channel to Counteract Al Jazeera (HuffPost)
Qatar is planning a new channel in response to neighboring countries’ criticism of Al Jazeera, Abu Dhabi-based newspaper The National reported Sunday. The newspaper said that Qatar’s development of the new network comes as countries including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt have taken issue with Al Jazeera for covering the opinions of the Muslim Brotherhood. The government of Qatar owns Al Jazeera. Variety Funded by Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the ambitious, globally minded young Emir of Qatar, the new station will be called Al Araby and will be broadcast in Arabic from a base in London. Palestinian Azmi Bashara, who served as an Israeli parliament member before fleeing his home country in 2007 under accusations of treason and aiding an enemy state during warfare, has been tapped as director. The plan had been for Al Araby to bow this past January but the launch date has been delayed more than once.

E! News Promotes Jennifer Lavin to EP, Melanie Bromley to Chief News Correspondent (Deadline Hollywood)
E! News has promoted Jennifer Lavin to executive producer and Melanie Bromley to chief news correspondent, the NBCUniversal cable network said Monday. It also added Us Weekly West Coast executive editor Dina Sansing as executive entertainment director. Variety Before her time at Us Weekly, Sansing spent six years at Seventeen held a variety of positions at the mag. Lavin joined E! News in 2007 as a supervising producer and she most recently worked as a senior supervising producer. Since beginning her career at San Francisco’s KPIX/CBS 5, Lavin has also served as a producer for Access Hollywood. Bromley began working at E! News in 2012 as senior correspondent and was promoted to senior managing correspondent four months later. Her prior experience includes serving as Us Weekly’s West Coast bureau chief from 2007 to 2012 and its London-based European bureau chief from 2003 to 2007.

Oregon Reporters Missed The Story of A Failing Health Exchange — Until They Didn’t (CJR / The Second Opinion)
Behind Oregon’s failed health insurance exchange is a story of spin that in some ways mirrors federal officials’ management of news about the Affordable Care Act from its passage in 2010 to the present day. We know this now because, when problems became apparent just before the state exchange was supposed to go live on Oct. 1, reporters in the state press corps started to read between the lines of official pronouncements and began their own investigations, which cracked the story wide open. We didn’t know it sooner because, for months before that, both legislative and media watchdogs were slow to question the official spin. There are lessons for journalists in both the strong recent reporting and the weaker early coverage.

Conan O’Brien Launches Comedy Record Label (THR)
Conan O’Brien is launching a record label. The first release under the Team Coco comedy record label will be a stand-up album from comedian Ian Edwards, 100% Half Assed, recorded at the La Jolla Comedy Store on March 8. The album will be released in June. The new record label is intended to shine a spotlight on up-and-coming comedians while also giving them creative control and a bigger stake in the release success.

Daily Beast Adds Congressional Reporter (Politico / Dylan Byers on Media)
The Daily Beast has hired Tim Mak, a congressional reporter for The Washington Examiner, to serve as its senior congressional correspondent, executive editor Noah Shachtman announced Monday. Mak, a former Politico reporter, will join The Daily Beast in late May and will be the site’s dedicated Capitol Hill reporter. Mak is the latest in a batch of recent additions to The Daily Beast, which include political reporter Olivia Nuzzi (the former Anthony Weiner intern) and contributing writer Kimberly Dozier of The Associated Press.

CQ Roll Call Expands Coverage With Launch of Four New Blogs (FishbowlDC)
In an announcement made Monday, CQ Roll Call has launched four new blogs, individually exploring the technology community, engaged communities, photojournalism on the Hill and the White House’s work with Congress, entitled Technocrat, Connectivity, Capitol Lens and POTUS Operandi, respectively.

AOL Relaunches Moviefone With New Look, Expands Into TV Content (Variety)
AOL’s Moviefone has a brand new look and an expanded mission that now encompasses TV. The new Moviefone website and apps are designed to span all entertainment content, to help users find movies and TV shows wherever that content is available. Moviefone’s search service will continue to feature movie showtimes and ticketing while also including TV content. For TV, Moviefone will let consumers find specific episodes or seasons of a television series whether on broadcast or cable TV, Netflix, Amazon, iTunes or elsewhere.

Kentucky Derby Clocks 15.3 Million Viewers on NBC (Deadline Hollywood)
NBC Sports’ coverage of Saturday’s 140th Kentucky Derby averaged 15.3 million viewers, according to fast national data provided Monday by Nielsen. California Chrome’s victory in Saturday’s race marks the fourth time in six years that NBC’s Kentucky Derby coverage averaged more than 15 million viewers.

Participant Media Names Laura Kim Head of Film Marketing (THR)
Participant Media has hired veteran marketing and publicity exec Laura Kim as senior VP of film marketing, the company announced Monday. Kim, who founded film marketing, PR and distribution consulting firm Inside Job, will oversee marketing strategy, partnerships and campaign development for Participant’s films and acquisitions.

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