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Morning Media Newsfeed: NYT Axes Abramson | Snowden Book Rights to Sony | CBS Touts Tradition

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The New York Times Replaces Abramson as Executive Editor (NYT)
Jill Abramson has been dismissed as executive editor of The New York Times and is being replaced by Dean Baquet, the managing editor, an abrupt change in leadership at one of the nation’s largest daily newspapers. FishbowlDC Abramson served as executive editor since 2011 and was the first woman in the role. According to the Times‘ coverage of the announcement, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the publisher of the paper and the chairman of The New York Times Company, told a stunned newsroom that had been quickly assembled that he had made the decision because of “an issue with management in the newsroom.” Politico / Dylan Byers on Media Despite significant achievements, Abramson’s tenure was marred by tension with Sulzberger and disagreements with Times Co CEO Mark Thompson, who took an unprecedentedly hands-on approach to managing the paper’s editorial resources. Abramson also suffered from perceptions among staff that she was condescending and combative. Mashable Abramson previously served as the Times‘ Washington bureau chief and managing editor before taking the executive editor role. People with knowledge of the Times newsroom said some staffers questioned how much Abramson enjoyed running the paper. She was sometimes conspicuously absent from the newsroom; one notable occasion was the day after Hurricane Sandy slammed into the New York region. New York Post / AP Baquet, 57, who is the first African-American to hold the newspaper’s highest editorial position, received a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting in 1988. Baquet originally joined the Times in 1990 as a reporter and held positions including deputy metropolitan editor and national editor. He left the paper for the LA Times in 2000, where he served as managing editor and then editor. Baquet rejoined the Times in 2007 and was Washington bureau chief before becoming the managing editor for news in Sept. 2011. FishbowlNY Former FishbowlNY editor Dylan Stableford was prophetic when he covered a breakfast event in 2008 and wrote: “Dean Baquet looked an awful lot like the next executive editor of The New York Times.” The New Yorker / Currency As with any such upheaval, there’s a history behind it. Several weeks ago, I’m told, Abramson discovered that her pay and her pension benefits as both executive editor and, before that, as managing editor were considerably less than the pay and pension benefits of Bill Keller, the male editor whom she replaced in both jobs. “She confronted the top brass,” one close associate said, and this may have fed into the management’s narrative that she was “pushy,” a characterization that, for many, has an inescapably gendered aspect.

Sony Nabs Film Rights to Edward Snowden Book No Place to Hide (THR)
Sony Pictures Entertainment has optioned film rights to Glenn Greenwald’s No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, The NSA, And The U.S. Surveillance State. The book by Greenwald, whose reporting on the revelations contained in Snowden’s top-secret NSA documents won the Pulitzer Prize for The Guardian newspaper this year, was published May 13. Mashable Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, the duo behind the modern James Bond films, will produce the movie. Sony has a strong track record of bringing modern, global-scale procedurals to the big screen, most recently with Oscar nominations for The Social Network and Zero Dark Thirty. NYT Greenwald’s book, whose rights were represented by both the Paradigm agency and Writers House, had been in consideration around Hollywood since the fall, as potential buyers fretted about how to tell a real-life story that is still playing out. Snowden remains in Russia, and is wanted by the authorities in the United States, where he faces criminal charges. Last month, he retained a Washington lawyer in hopes of reaching a plea deal with federal prosecutors. Deadline Hollywood No writer has been attached. Elizabeth Cantillon, Columbia Pictures’ EVP production, will oversee for the studio.

CBS Urges Upfront Advertisers to Stick With The Winner (Deadline New York)
“Nobody on Earth brings more quality programs to audiences than we do,” CBS CEO Les Moonves told buyers Wednesday at his company’s annual upfront presentation at Carnegie Hall. The traditional media triumphalism provided a contrast with his rivals’ efforts this week to talk up corporate synergies and digital initiatives — especially as tech powers including Google, Microsoft, Yahoo! and AOL try to win dollars to online video. THR / The Live Feed Despite losing the network’s No. 1 ratings status from last season, falling to third behind NBC and Fox in the crucial 18-49 demo, Moonves and entertainment chairman Nina Tassler didn’t seem to know the meaning of “bad news” when they took the stage. A couple hours after unveiling an only slightly tweaked fall schedule to reporters, the duo greeted buyers with a promise of a lift from sports (Thursday Night Football), fewer repeats and a lot of affection and attention for outgoing Late Show host David Letterman and its lone critical darling, The Good Wife. Adweek / The 2014-15 Upfront A new CSI spinoff and NCIS: New Orleans will debut in the fall along with one new drama and one new sitcom, as Two And A Half Men will end its 12-year run. And with Craig Ferguson gone from The Late Late Show and Stephen Colbert set to take over for Letterman, the network appears to have found its Late Late host: Joel McHale, now at-large after the much-lamented cancellation of NBC’s constantly-on-the-bubble sitcom Community. The Comic’s Comic On the eve of the annual CBS upfront presentation to advertisers, Moonves and his wife, The Talk co-host Julie Chen, posed for a photo with McHale. Chen posted the photo Wednesday to her Twitter feed, writing: “Me and my hubby hanging with the hilarious @joelmchale.” TVNewser The two primetime CBS News shows will be back in their regular slots in the fall: 60 Minutes, Sundays at 7 p.m. ET and 48 Hours, Saturday nights at 10 p.m. ET.

Gannett to Acquire Six London Broadcasting Stations for $215 Million (TVSpy)
Gannett Co. will purchase six stations in Texas from London Broadcasting for $215 million. The stations are KCEN in Waco-Temple-Bryan, KYTX in Tyler-Longview, KIII in Corpus Christi, KBMT and digital subchannel KJAC in Beaumont-Port Arthur, KXVA in Abilene-Sweetwater and KIDY in San Angelo. USA Today Once the deal closes, the McLean-based media company will own or operate 46 stations, reflecting the corporate strategy of reducing its dependence on print media. In December, Gannett closed the $2.2 billion acquisition of Belo, which nearly doubled the number of its TV stations from 23 to 40. WSJ The new stations are expected to generate about $50 million in revenue in 2014 and benefit per-share earnings within the first 12 months. The transaction is expected to close this summer. After closing, Phil Hurley, London Broadcasting’s chief operating officer, will continue to lead the six stations.

Le Monde Director Natalie Nougayrède Resigns (WWD / Memo Pad)
Le Monde director Natalie Nougayrède revealed her resignation Wednesday from the French daily. Her resignation comes after several weeks of crisis at the paper, with seven out of the 10 editors-in-chief resigning last week. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media The senior editors resigned amid disputes with Nougayrède over plans for a new print and digital format and what they described as difficulty working with senior management. Nougayrède, Le Monde‘s first-ever female editor, took over the paper last year following the sudden death of Erik Izraelewicz. Reuters A foreign correspondent who cut her teeth covering eastern Europe and Russia, Nougayrède won prizes for her work on the Chechen conflict but had little previous experience within the newspaper’s complex management structures. Her resignation comes barely a year after Nougayrède won a record 80 percent support in the in-house ballot for the editor post.

OWN Lands Michael Sam Docuseries (THR / The Live Feed)
Oprah Winfrey’s OWN has ordered a docuseries centered on Michael Sam, the gay football player who was just drafted by the NFL’s St. Louis Rams. The series will follow the University of Missouri alum as he prepares to earn a spot on the Rams. Capital New York Sam, an SEC defensive player of the year while playing for the University of Missouri, came out earlier this year ahead of the draft. The Rams selected him with the 249th pick in the seventh round this past weekend. Variety Cameras will follow Sam as he works to earn his spot on the Rams while dealing with the intense scrutiny from the media — and from others in his personal and professional life — that comes with being the first openly gay player in the NFL. Sam said he hoped the documentary would help others in similar situations.

CBS Offered Letterman Spot to Neil Patrick Harris, But He Said No (Mediaite)
It turns out there was some credence to those Neil Patrick Harris Late Show rumors. During an appearance on Howard Stern’s show Wednesday, Harris confirmed that CBS did try to woo him to replace David Letterman, as well as possibly Craig Ferguson, but the actor turned them down. THR Instead of filling the shoes left by Letterman when he retires after 20 years in 2015 — which will now be filled by Stephen Colbert — Harris suggested launching a weekly TV show. When asked if Moonves was interested in that idea, Harris replied that “he still might be.”

Sony Predicts Fifth Annual Loss in Six Years (Variety)
Sony has revealed that it expects to rack up a net loss for the current fiscal year, ending in March 2015, amounting to $489 million. This disappointing result, marking the fifth time in six years for Sony to end the year in the red, has come despite strenuous restructuring efforts by CEO Kazuo Hirai and his team, including 5,000 job cuts, the sale of the company’s computer unit and the splitting of TV manufacturing into a separate company. WSJ Over the past year, Sony repeatedly lowered its earnings guidance, most recently two weeks ago. Costs related to the sale of the PC business contributed to the company’s forecast for another loss. Sony’s entertainment arm has been steadier than the electronics business, though the Hollywood studio business has also been put on a cost-reduction program after box-office flops dented the company’s results last year.

WaPo Called Out for Not Covering Amazon Dispute (Mediaite)
After almost one week since The New York Times reported on an alleged dispute between Amazon and book publisher Hachette, The Washington Post, purchased last summer by Amazon owner Jeff Bezos, had yet to report the story as of Wednesday. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media The absence of any Amazon-Hachette mention in the Post has been flagged by media critics Jack Shafer and Jim Romenesko and criticized by the publisher Melville House. Post executive editor Martin Baron said that the lack of coverage was simply a matter of resources and editorial judgment. Baron also confirmed that Bezos has no influence on coverage decisions at the Post.

Barbara Walters Farewell: ‘True, I Was The First Female Co-Host… But Also True, I Was A Flop’ (TVNewser)
It was a star-studded farewell for Barbara Walters at New York City’s Four Seasons restaurant Wednesday night. From comedian Joan Rivers to commissioner Bill Bratton; from New York’s chronicler of scandal, Cindy Adams, to the man who plays the president on Scandal, Tony Goldwyn; from actor Woody Allen to attorney David Boies, But mostly, the pool room was packed with Walters’ fellow TV news colleagues and those ladies — past and present — from The View: Whoopi Goldberg and Sherri Shepherd; Meredith Vieira and Joy Behar.

Redbook EIC Moves Over to Dr. Oz The Good Life (FishbowlNY)
Allison Brower’s decision to leave the Hearst fold and return to California is good news for Jill Herzig. Ahead of Dr. Oz The Good Life’s launch this summer with the arrival of the August/September issue, she has been tapped to replace Brower as editor-in-chief. There will be three issues of Dr. Oz The Good Life this summer/fall/winter, followed by a 10-times-a-year print schedule in 2015.

Conan Is Staying Put: TBS Adds 4 Years to Late-Night Contract (Mashable)
TBS has renewed Conan through 2018, giving Conan O’Brien four more years to crack jokes at the 11 p.m. cable time slot. The Wednesday announcement comes a week after ABC extended Jimmy Kimmel’s late-night contract through 2017. Both deals continue a whirlwind year for late-night as Tonight Show‘s Jimmy Fallon also took over for Jay Leno on NBC in February, while CBS recently picked Stephen Colbert to replace David Letterman on Late Show in 2015.

Vanessa Williams, Senator Chris Dodd And Carlos Falchi on His Encounter With Jackie O (FishbowlNY / Lunch)
They don’t call this “Upfront Week” for nothing. It was clear from the SRO dining room at Michael’s Wednesday everyone who’s anyone (at least among certain circles) wanted to be up front at 55th and Fifth. Of course, this delicate dance was pulled off with aplomb by the clever and infinitely gracious Loreal Sherman.

WSJ Shuffles Deck; Hall Named U.S. Editor (Capital New York)
Glenn Hall has been named U.S. editor of The Wall Street Journal, replacing Jennifer Forsyth, who stepped down from the role last month and was named deputy investigations editor Wednesday. Hall, a former editor-in-chief of The Street and an alumnus of Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze.com, had been editor of Dow Jones sister title MarketWatch since September, when he took over for Jonathan Krim upon the latter’s appointment as global technology editor.

News of The World Royal Editor: I Hacked Kate Middleton’s Phone 155 Times (HuffPost / AP)
The former royal editor of the News of The World said Wednesday that he repeatedly hacked the voicemails of Prince William, Prince Harry and Kate Middleton in the months before he was arrested for illegal eavesdropping in 2006. Under cross examination at Britain’s phone hacking trial, Clive Goodman acknowledged he had listened to Middleton’s voicemails 155 times, Prince William’s 35 times and Prince Harry’s nine times. Goodman was briefly jailed in 2007, along with private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, for hacking the phones of royal aides.

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