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Alissa Krinsky

Jeff Zucker on CNN’s Evolution and His ‘Exhilarating’ Experience Leading the Way

JeffZuckerCNN“I think a new lineup will evolve over time,” CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker tells TVNewser about the cabler’s much-talked-about primetime schedule. “I don’t think we’re going to have a singular day when we’re going to announce a whole new lineup.  It’ll evolve.”

TVNewser caught up with Zucker in Chicago last night, at the Windy City premiere of “CHICAGOLAND”, CNN’s eight-part documentary series debuting tomorrow night at 10pmET.  It’s part of a wave of new programing ordered by Zucker in an effort to break the mold at the network and kick-start ratings.

One of the puzzle pieces for Zucker is how to utilize Piers Morgan, whose eponymous primetime show will soon be replaced. Earlier this week, Morgan said he’ll “make a deal to do 20 to 25 shows a year, all interviews with big names.”

“I am talking with Piers about what our future will be,” Zucker tells TVNewser. “We are in conversations.”

As the network moves forward, though, one thing is clear: Zucker likes the ratings scored by series such as “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” and “Morgan Spurlock’s Inside Man”.

“Certainly, there’s an appetite and an audience that’s willing to come to CNN to watch that kind of programming, and I think that you’ll see more of that this year.”  Zucker says he has  “several other series in that vein that we haven’t even announced yet.”

And Zucker says that doesn’t mean CNN is moving away from being first and foremost a news organization.

“The fact is,” he says, “CNN is actually offering more hours of live news programming today than we have at any point in the last five years.  So the two [live news and documentaries] are not incompatible. We are always there when news happens. We’re in Ukraine this week, and Crimea, in tremendous numbers, offering round-the-clock coverage, far more than anyone else.”

While CNN’s evolution will take time — and patience — Zucker is keenly aware of the day-to-day ratings game.

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Colleagues Mourn Death of CNN Digital Reporter

JPGLateefMunginCo-workers this weekend are remembering CNN Digital reporter Lateef Mungin, who passed away Friday after suffering a seizure in the network’s Atlanta newsroom earlier last week.  Mungin was 41, and is survived by his wife and two young daughters.

A California native and former Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter, Mungin joined CNN in 2008. His Twitter bio reflected his passion for his job and the network: “We love news here. And we love you.”

Colleagues have taken to social media to express their grief.  Kevin Flower, CNN’s Senior Director of Domestic Newsgathering, tweeted that “CNN has lost a great journalist and a truly gentle soul.”

Saeed Ahmed, Senior Assignment Editor at CNN Digital, tweeted that Mungin was ”a tenacious reporter, a superb writer and a wonderful friend.” Ahmed has established a fund for Mungin’s family, which, as of this writing, has raised more than $8,000.

Tim Russert Office Exhibit Gets ‘Final Resting Place’ in Buffalo

TR OfficeAfter more than four years on display at the Newseum in Washington, the contents of the office of the late NBC newsman Tim Russert are moving to his hometown of Buffalo, New York.

“It’s a great final resting place for the embodiment of his career, which is that office,” Russert’s son, NBC News correspondent Luke Russert, tells the Buffalo News. “It captures the history of him growing up in South Buffalo and interviewing popes and presidents and everything in between.”

The office re-creation, which had been classified as a temporary feature at the Newseum, includes items such as Russert’s “Thou Shalt Not Whine” sign, as well as numerous books, papers, and framed photos.  The Buffalo History Museum now will house the exhibit.

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Erin Burnett Ready to Get Back ‘OutFront’

BurnettBabyNyleandMomMotherhood is agreeing with CNN’s Erin Burnett, who on November 29 gave birth to her first child, Nyle Thomas Burnett Rubulotta.

“It’s only been a month but from the second I saw him I couldn’t imagine life without him,” Burnett tells TVNewser. “And his first smile was the greatest joy.”

Burnett, who will return to her primetime show ‘OutFront’ later this month, shared a few photos with us, including Nyle in what his mother describes as “his favorite sleeping position, the ‘champion.’”

In Celtic, Nyle means ‘champion’. “He’s a champion to me no matter what he does!” Burnett says.

Erin Burnett Gives Birth to Baby Boy

EBurnettWeddingIt’s an 8-pound, 10-ounce bundle of blue for CNN’s Erin Burnett and  husband David Rubulotta.

“Dave and I welcomed a healthy, happy baby boy at 9:47 p.m. Friday November 29th,” the ‘Outfront’ anchor tells People magazine, which broke the news. “Seeing him for the first time was the most awe-inspiring, joyful moment of our lives.”

There’s no word yet on the baby’s name. It’s the first child for the couple, who married in December of 2012. CNN confirmed Burnett’s pregnancy to TVNewser in June.

 

Ron Burgundy’s ‘Highly, Highly-Anticipated Autobiography’

As the wait continues for the December premiere of  “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues”, so does the string of entertaining, pre-release morsels being thrown to us news junkie fans in the meantime. 

Now the first trailer for Ron Burgundy‘s autobiography, a tome the anchor describes as “highly, highly-anticipated.” Let Me Off at the Top! My Classy Life and Other Musings, out November 19, is being marketed as the book ”every true American has been waiting for: a shockingly candid and raw confessional from a national treasure…This book deserves a real shot at a Pulitzer Prize. In fact if it doesn’t win one then we will finally have proof that the Pulitzer is rigged.”

“Turns out I’m a great book writer,” Burgundy adds. WATCH:

What Do Prince George and Chris Cuomo Have in Common?

As you may have noticed in his christening photos, His Royal Highness Prince George wore a lace and satin Communion gown for his big day, an exact replica of the one worn by a royal predecessor in 1841.  For Brits, it’s a sign of tradition.

CNN’s Chris Cuomo, though, had more of a meh reaction.  “Its a boy,” said Cuomo on morning program ‘New Day’ today, “and he’s in a dress.”

Takes one to know one, though, according to one expert: Cuomo’s mom. Chris called up his mother, Matilda Cuomo, who confirmed that baby Christopher also wore a traditional gown for that special event.

“Why did you put me in a dress?” Cuomo asked his mother. WATCH:

This Week in Ron Burgundy News

Scotchy-Scotch-ScotchAs news junkies across the country await the release of “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” on December 20, we’ll happily play along and keep you updated on efforts by Paramount Pictures to hype the film.

First, is this week’s announcement with Ben & Jerry’s introducing a new Ron Burgundy-inspired ice cream flavor, Scotchy Scotch Scotch, described as “a creamy concoction of butterscotch ice cream with ribbons of butterscotch swirl.”  Sorry, newsdrunks, no real Scotch is to be found as an ingredient.

“Scotchy Scotch Scotch is a delicious ice cream and I hope Ben and Jerry consider my other suggestions,” Burgundy says in a press release. “Malt liquor marshmallow, well liquor bourbon peanut butter, and cheap white wine sherbet.”

Supermarkets will be stocking up over the next few weeks.

In other “Anchorman 2″ news, the studio has released a new trailer, which shows the fab four moving to New York to join GNN. That’s the Global News Network, of course.

Dan Lothian Leaving CNN

DanLothianFirst on TVNewser:  CNN White House correspondent Dan Lothian is leaving the network, a CNN source confirms to TVNewser. Lothian is a ten-year veteran of the cabler, and has covered the administration for nearly five years.  Previously he was with NBC News out of its Los Angeles bureau.

This is the second departure of a D.C.-based CNN correspondent in a little more than one week. TVNewser broke the story on October 9 that Jessica Yellin‘s tenure at the network had come to an end.

Remembering Jessica Savitch, 30 Years After Her Death

SavitchJessicaIn the early 1980s, with cable in its infancy and network anchors dominating the airwaves, one of the most identifiable, and beloved, was NBC’s Jessica Savitch.

A pioneering woman in broadcasting, Savitch was only 30 when, in 1977, fresh from local TV news jobs in Philadelphia and Houston, NBC News hired her to cover Congress.  Savitch went on to be the first woman to anchor a weekend newscast for NBC, and perhaps was best known for her highly-visible primetime ’news capsule’ updates. Her rocky personal life made headlines too.

But it all came to an end on a rainy autumn night in 1983, when the car Savitch was in plunged into a Bucks County, Pennsylvania canal, killing her and the car’s driver, 34-year-old Martin Fischbein, a vice president at the New York Post.

As we approach the thirtieth anniversary of that day – October 23 – TVNewser reached out to friends, family, and colleagues for their memories of Jessica Savitch, who was just 36 when she died.

NBC’s Andrea Mitchell: “Jessica Savitch was a warm-hearted, caring person and a pioneer in broadcasting who lost her life tragically just as she was soaring to new  heights. She was my friend at KYW in Philadelphia and my office mate at NBC in Washington. I was privileged to know her and mourn her loss, along with friends and family, so many years later.”

Former KYW Co-Anchor Mort Crim, who delivered the eulogy at Savitch’s funeral: “Her untimely passing was a loss to me, personally, and to the world of TV journalism. I’ve worked with many talented people, but none who could surpass Jess for a combination of ability, sensitivity and drive…An agent for Will Farrell contacted me a few weeks ago as Anchorman II was nearing completion to remind me that Jess and I had been the inspiration for the first Anchorman movie…Jess was 25 years old when we first shared an anchor desk.  But the years fly by swiftly and she would now be 65, something I can hardly believe. I still miss her.”

NBC’s Tom Brokaw: “It was such a sad, even tragic ending, to a life that was the classic American success story. Jessica had a wide following of admirers, first in Philadelphia and then on the network – and just when she seemed to have found personal happiness, the untimely end.”

After the jump, thoughts from Sue Simmons, Fred Francis, and Linda Ellerbee…plus Lori Savitch on the journalism scholarships that honor her sister thirty years later.

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