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Alissa Krinsky

Jim Cantore: ‘This Whole Argument About Climate Change is Just Explosive’

Jim Cantore in Chicago on Saturday. Photo: Alissa Krinsky

Jim Cantore in Chicago on Saturday. Photo: Alissa Krinsky

It was last week that Weather Channel co-founder John Coleman told FNC’s Megyn Kelly that research showing the effects of climate change “is bad, bad science.”

A few days later, Weather Channel CEO David Kenny, distanced the company from the comments, emphasizing that Coleman’s views do not represent those of the network.

This weekend in Chicago, longtime Weather Channel meteorologist Jim Cantore weighed in with TVNewser on the back-and-forth.

“John certainly has the right to his own opinion,” Cantore says. “I don’t necessarily agree with it, but that’s his opinion. This whole argument about climate change is just explosive, [and] it’s not getting any better.  It’s gotten so explosive, that neither side wants to hear each other.”

As a result, Cantore says, Americans are missing an opportunity to find ”common ground” by embracing environmental responsibility.

“At the end of the day,” he says, “how can anyone argue with being a good steward to our planet?”

Natalie Morales and Willie Geist On the ‘Today’ Show’s New Family Members

Morales and Geist in Chicago on Saturday. Photo: Alissa Krinsky

Morales and Geist in Chicago on Saturday. Photo: Alissa Krinsky

Fresh out of their costumes as Saturday Night Live’Mary Katherine Gallagher and Spartan cheerleader Craig, “Today” show co-anchors Natalie Morales and Willie Geist told TVNewser they are delighted with the show’s well-received Halloween 2014 Boo-Nanza on Friday.

“We all get along so well,” Morales says about her on-air colleagues, citing the ”camaraderie” she felt as they portrayed famous SNL characters in a collection of skits.

It’s a far cry from the discord and tension at “Today” in 2012, when Ann Curry‘s exit from the show triggered an onslaught of negative publicity.

Since then, Savannah Guthrie – back from maternity leave this morning — was named co-anchor. Geist officially joined the “Today” family as well.

“I think you read things and you hear things about what TV shows are like behind the scenes – you know it’s cutthroat, and all that,” Geist told TVNewser, during an interview in Chicago Saturday ahead of “Skyscraper Live,” which Geist and Morales hosted last night.

“I was so impressed by how it was unlike anything I’d read the show was, and how good everyone is to each other and how well they get along.”

As the show continues to move forward, other new faces are on the scene as well.

Former ABC morning show competitor Josh Elliott made his first on-set appearance on “Today” last week, filling in for Morales as news anchor.  Read more

Willie Geist, Natalie Morales, Jim Cantore Hit the Windy City for Wallenda Skyscraper Walk

Discovery ChannelIt’s being billed as the most dangerous tightrope walk in the history of the Wallenda family: tonight in the Windy City, Nik Wallenda is set to cross the Chicago River while more than 50 stories high above the water, with no tether and no net.

For an encore, he’s then to do a second, shorter wire walk, between the two famed Marina Tower buildings located nearby. And this time, he’ll be blindfolded.

Not a feat for the faint of heart.

“Nik is probably the coolest, most calm guy when it comes to these things, as you would want him to be,” says Natalie Morales. who, with Today colleague Willie Geist, will co-anchor Discovery Channel’s coverage of the high-intensity event, which is being produced by NBC’s Peacock Productions.  ”I think we feel more of a comfort level, knowing how well he trains for the unforeseen circumstance.”

“I think we’re so confident in Nik because he’s so confident in himself,” adds Geist. “He does things he knows he’s capable of doing.”

TVNewser caught up with Morales and Geist in Chicago as the two prepped for today’s broadcast.  It will be the second time the pair will anchor such coverage, having teamed up last year with The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore for Wallenda’s Grand Canyon walk.

Cantore is part of tonight’s event as well, providing updated forecasts during the show. He told TVNewser in Chicago that while the weather will be blustery - temperatures in the low-to-mid 40′s, with winds between 15-20 mph – that’s his forecast for those of us on the ground.  For Wallenda, “the winds can be a little bit stronger up there.”

Should the gusts be too great during his walk, Wallenda has said that his backup plan is to hold on to the wire and wait for help to arrive.

It will be a dangerous endeavor. Peacock Productions President and General Manager Sharon Scott confirms with TVNewser that there will be a 10-second delay during the broadcast, and Morales and Geist say they’re prepared should something go awry.

“Rest assured, there is a plan,” says Geist. ”But we don’t plan on using it.”

Another strategic consideration for the anchors is how to handle their direct communication with Wallenda. The three will be able to talk with each other during the second, shorter walk – the one that will have Wallenda blindfolded. Read more

Newsers, Family Gather to Toast John Palmer Memoir

Tom Brokaw, Nancy Doyle Palmer, Brian Williams.

Tom Brokaw, Nancy Doyle Palmer, Brian Williams. (photo: Francine Daveta)

Brian Williams, Tom Brokaw, Bryant Gumbel, Andrea Mitchell, and Norah O’Donnell were among guests joining the family of the late NBC newsman John Palmer in Manhattan last night to celebrate his life, as recounted in Palmer’s new memoir, Newscatcher.

Palmer began working on the book several years ago, daughter Molly Palmer Cowan tells TVNewser. The publication comes a year after the former NBC White House correspondent and Today news anchor passed away from pulmonary fibrosis in 2013.

“When it became clear that he wasn’t going to make it through his sudden illness last summer, I brought his book to the hospital,” Palmer Cowan recalls. “I did it in part to help my Dad celebrate all that he accomplished and experienced but if I’m being honest, I mostly did it for selfish reasons. My greatest fear as I watched my father’s life come to an end was having questions for him that he wouldn’t be able to answer or stories I couldn’t remember.”

Newscatcher recounts Palmer’s time covering the administrations of Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, as well as his reporting in earlier years while based in Chicago, New York, Tel Aviv, Beirut, and Paris.

“As we took turns reading the book to him, he would finish each story himself, often recounting new details,” Palmer Cowan says. “I’m so grateful we got to hear him tell those stories one last time and even more grateful they are documented for us to always enjoy.”

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Where Are They Now? David Hartman

Hartman(m)As we conclude our “Where Are They Now?” series, we talk with former ‘Good Morning America’ host David Hartman

It happened again just recently at a bagel shop in Durham, North Carolina.

A woman eating breakfast looked up from her table, and upon seeing the tall, recognizable man walking by, smiled and said to him, “Make it a good day today!”

The man was former Good Morning America host David Hartman.  The woman was citing the famous sign-off he used at the close of each broadcast during his 1975-1987 tenure.

The phrase viewers still cite today “goes back to my childhood,” Hartman, 79, tells TVNewser. “My parents said ‘hey, the responsibility for your life is you.  So if you want something to happen, you’re going to make it happen – don’t wait for anybody else to bring it to you.’”

And David Hartman has always made things happen.

A Rhode Island native, he was a talented young athlete who, as a high school student, was offered a pro baseball contract. Opting instead to enroll at Duke University, Hartman majored in economics, while participating in choral and orchestra activities and in the school’s Air Force ROTC. He also did radio and TV announcing, and was president of his fraternity.

After graduation, he served in the Air Force before pursuing an acting and singing career.  In 1964, Hartman landed a role in the original Broadway production of Hello, Dolly!.  Later, he starred in primetime TV shows such as NBC’s The Bold Ones and Lucas Tanner.

Hartman then began producing educational documentary programming for ABC.  Birth and Babies “showed the birth of a baby for the first time on American television,” he says of the 1974 show, which caught the attention of network executives.

They invited him to host ABC’s new morning program, which had the unenviable task of going up against NBC’s venerable Today.

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Where Are They Now? Linda Vester

LindaHeadshot(1)As we continue TVNewser’s ongoing series “Where Are They Now?”, we talk with former Fox News Channel anchor Linda VesterNext up: former Good Morning America co-host David Hartman. 

It’s been nearly a decade since Linda Vester anchored a newscast, but that hasn’t stopped friends from asking if she’ll ever come back to television.

“I don’t think so,” she tells them. “At least, not right now.”

That’s because she’s enjoying life as CEO of what she calls “Mommy, Inc.”

“I love it,” Vester tells TVNewser.  Motherhood “is more draining, by far, than my old career in journalism, but I really love it.”

The former Fox News Channel anchor lives in Manhattan with her husband and four children – two sons and two daughters – ranging in age from 3 to 11.  It was after she’d become pregnant with her second child, Vester says, that her plans became clear.

“I just really, really wanted to be a stay-at-home mom,” she reflects.  “I came to it late, I’d worked in television since I was 17, in high school, and met my husband late, and by the grace of God, got pregnant in my mid-thirties, and I thought, ‘I don’t want to miss anything!””

But the decision to become a full-time mother – one that’s made her “very happy” – wasn’t necessarily easy at first.

“It really did take a solid year to take those pieces apart and say, ‘okay, now who am I?’”

Eventually, Vester made the adjustment, even losing the need to instantly devour breaking news. “I can read [about stories] a day late,” she says with a laugh, “and be just fine.”

The Cincinnati native started her broadcast career as an intern for local CBS affiliate WKRC-TV, working with anchor Nick Clooney (yes, George’s dad).  Vester then got a job at CBS News’ Paris bureau during a semester at the Sorbonne.

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Gwen Ifill, Judy Woodruff & Jim Lehrer on ‘Core Values,’ New ‘Faces’ at PBS NewsHour

WoodruffIfill“It’s kind of a dream come true,” Judy Woodruff tells TVNewser about the job she started last September.  ”I pinch myself every day to believe that I am co-anchoring the [PBS] NewsHour.”

One year after her debut as half of the program’s new anchor team, Woodruff’s appreciation for the position is matched by that of her friend and co-anchor, Gwen Ifill.

“I got the great chance to be a caretaker” of an iconic show, says Ifill.

The veteran journalists made history when, on September 9, 2013, they became the first women to co-anchor a nightly network newscast.

“No matter where I go around the country,” Woodruff says, “people come up, and they just say how excited they are, how thrilled they are” about the groundbreaking team.

Noteworthy as it may be, the NewsHour‘s co-founder, Jim Lehrer, tells TVNewser that Ifill and Woodruff got the nod simply for being the “logical and best combination” for the job.

Calling the duo “terrific,” he says he’s delighted with a transition that was more than two years in the making.

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Where Are They Now? Bobbie Battista

Battista1TVNewser continues a multi-week series, catching up with some tvnewsers of yesterday to learn about their lives now, and their perspectives on the industry.  Today we hear from former CNN anchor Bobbie Battista. In two weeks: former Fox News Channel anchor Linda Vester.  

As Bobbie Battista will tell you, sometimes it all boils down to “being in the right place, at the right time, having made a lucky decision.”

And heeding some wise counsel from a parent.

It was 1981, and Battista had risen from a secretarial position to shatter a glass ceiling as the first woman anchor at Raleigh powerhouse WRAL-TV.  Alongside colleague Charlie Gaddy, the duo’s evening newscasts pulled in stratospheric ratings.

In short order, Battista started fielding a slew of offers from larger local markets. Another intriguing invitation came from a fledgling, 24-hour cable news operation called CNN.

“My father thought [CNN] was a good move,” Battista tells TVNewser.  After weighing her options, she decided to take her dad’s advice.

Little did Battista know that the move to Atlanta would put her on track to make broadcast news history once again.

In the eighties, as CNN started to be seen in a growing number of American homes, so too did it become available in previously-unreachable corners of the earth.

“I was hugely known in Poland!” Battista remembers with a laugh. CNN founder Ted Turner had struck an unheard-of deal, to have several minutes of network programming featured each evening on state-run television in the Communist country.  The time slot coincided with Battista’s anchor shift.

A hit with Iron Curtain viewers, Battista was sent to Poland for a ten-day goodwill tour. “It wasn’t really even something you could grasp,” she reflects. “What you were struck by was the influence that CNN was beginning to have in the world.”

The network’s ascendancy intensified during the Gulf War.

“Everyone involved in that conflict – politically, militarily – they were watching CNN,” says Battista.  “It was an amazingly important responsibility.”

Over the next many years, she’d go on to cover the Challenger tragedy, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the crumbling of the Soviet Empire, and every presidential election along the way.

By 2002, feeling “a little burned out” – and after a slew of what she viewed as disappointing changes at CNN in the wake of the AOL-Time Warner merger – Battista decided to leave the network after 22 years.

More than a decade later, she still watches CNN every day, but is wary of what she sees as “brand erosion.”  She says viewers have come up to her over the years to ask, “What happened to CNN?”

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Where Are They Now? Ken Kashiwahara

KKashiwaharaToday, TVNewser begins a multi-week series where we’ll catch up with some tvnewsers of yesterday to learn about their lives now, and their perspectives on the industry.  We start with former ABC newsman Ken Kashiwahara.  Next week: former CNN anchor Bobbie Battista.

Ken Kashiwahara most certainly has used up some of his nine lives.

Take his harrowing escape from South Vietnam while on assignment for ABC News in 1975. “It was anarchy, chaos,” he tells TVNewser about the fall of Saigon.

Kashiwahara was trapped in a mob of humanity trying to flee the country via helicopter at the U.S. Embassy.  He knew he had to scale the compound’s wall to safety.

“U.S. Marines were on top of the wall, pulling people up,” he recalls.  Kashiwahara was one of the lucky ones literally lifted up and over.

The story is just one of many experienced during a quarter-century with the network.  Another moment had Kashiwahara showered with shrapnel while covering the Lebanese Civil War.

“In the very beginning,” he says about his 25-year tenure with ABC, spent as a correspondent and as a Hong Kong and San Francisco bureau chief, “it was very exciting, the travel and not knowing where you were going to be from one day to the next.

“But after a while it got a little tiring. You could never plan your life.”

And so in 1998, at the age of 58, Kashiwahara retired.

It all began in 1969 when, after a stint in the Air Force, Kashiwahara got his big break in journalism in his native Hawaii, at Honolulu’s KHVH radio.  The station’s news director “took a chance on me.  I mean, I was terrible!”

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Would Jim Lehrer Moderate Another Debate? ‘No, No, No, A Thousand Times, No’

JimLehrer1He’s known as the Dean of Moderators, having been at the helm of twelve presidential debates since 1988.

But don’t count on veteran newsman Jim Lehrer making another go of it in 2016.

“No, no, no, a thousand times, no,” he tells TVNewser about what he’d say if asked to moderate in 2016.

Lehrer felt the same way when we talked with him 2010. But he ended up moderating the first 2012 presidential debate.

“The only reason that I finally changed my mind [in 2012] was because I was persuaded by the Commission on Presidential Debates to do it, because we were going to try a new format,” he says, referring to the “new, open” approach that enabled the candidates to more freely speak and interact with each other.

Lehrer, 80, was roundly criticized, for not doing enough to challenge candidates, Pres. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, or control their questions.

Would anything change his mind when it comes to 2016?

Read more

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