You may not know her name, but you do know her work. Johnson has been with “60 Minutes” since the beginning, as make-up artist for the correspondents and some high-profile guests, President’s Johnson, Ford and Clinton among them. Riccie Johnson’s most famous subjects: The Beatles, when they made their American TV debut on the Ed Sullivan show 50 years ago.
CBS News is the news division of television network CBS, a division of CBS Corp. Jeff Fager is the chairman of the division and is also the executive producer of “60 Minutes.” David Rhodes is the president of CBS News. Other programs include “CBS This Morning,” the “CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley,” CBS News “Sunday Morning,” “Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer” and “48 Hours.”
“60 Minutes” begins its 47th season Sunday night. And for the first time, you’ll be able to see Sunday’s stories on your mobile device the following week, without having to purchase the $4.99 app.
Last season,”60 Minutes” averaged 12.2 million viewers each Sunday, finishing most weeks in the Top 10. But the program suffered a black eye in November when correspondent Lara Logan was forced to apologize for her report on the 9/11/12 consulate attack in Benghazi, Libya. A CBS News internal review found the story “deficient in several respects.” Logan and producer Max McClellan took extended leaves of absence from the network. Logan returned earlier this year, and made her first appearance on air on “Face the Nation” in June.
This week’s premiere episode includes a 2-part report from Scott Pelley who traveled to Iraq earlier this month reporting on the terror group ISIS, and a Steve Kroft story on criminals who use stolen social security numbers to get fraudulent tax refunds, to the tune of billions of dollars.
While new stories will be free the week following the broadcast, the “60 Minutes” app for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch has expanded its archive to more than 300 stories, including the first episode in 1968.
While appearing on “CBS This Morning” this morning, a friend of beheaded journalist Steven Sotloff claimed Sotloff’s family and friends got little help from the White House while Steven was held captive.
“We just don’t understand why these two Americans [Sotloff and James Foley] had to die,” Barak Barfi said. “We never believed the administration was doing anything to help us.”
“We had very limited contact with senior officials; it was basically limited to two FBI agents and when I tried to ask for a senior point of contact all the administration said was ‘you can speak to the Counselor of Bureau affairs at the State Department.’”
Barfi went on to say he wanted a senior administration official contact who reports directly to the President to convey information to the Sotloff family daily. “Charlie, when I needed to talk to an FBI agent about a very important matter, I had to wait 45 minutes before he could call me back.”
During the pregame to CBS’ first NFL Thursday night game this week, studio announcer James Brown had a message for both the NFL and men in light of the ongoing Ray Rice suspension fallout.
“I challenge the NFL community and all men to seriously confront the problem of domestic violence,” Brown said during CBS’ pregame show.
“This problem is bigger than football…but wouldn’t it be productive if this collective outrage, as my colleagues have said, can be channeled, to truly here and address the long suffering cries for help of so many women, and as they said, do something about it?”
Brown went on to address longstanding discriminating sports vernacular against women, like, “you throw the ball like a girl,” as being part of the problem (watch after the jump). Brown, a longtime sports broadcaster, recently shared with us his first big break in the business.
Scott Pelley was the only evening news anchor to report from Iraq this week as President Obama announced his plans for action against terror group ISIS. And “CBS Evening News” executive producer Steve Capus says Pelley’s reporting helps separate CBS News from the rest of the pack.
“When I first started talking about taking over this job,” Capus told us Friday, “Scott said to me the commitment to first hand reporting is what stands out at CBS News, and it’s a differentiator for us.”
That reporting found Pelley in Kurdistan, a northern region in Iraq, right in the middle of the Kurdish military’s fight with ISIS. He also interviewed a man who narrowly escaped being murdered by ISIS, escaping from a mass grave (watch after the jump). “When I was hit [by ISIS bullets], I didn’t want to make a sound, because anybody that made a noise, they’d come over and shoot them in the head,” Sayid told Pelley. “When it was all over, Sayid crawled out of the grave,” Pelley said.
“We can see speeches from Washington DC, we can have reporters standing on the lawn of the White House giving us reporting, but the real context is going to come from the people who make the commitment to cover the stories,” Capus continued. “Scott’s a reporter, and that’s what brought him to this job in the first place. It’s not in his DNA to simply show up and ‘quote unquote’ have presence on the scene.”
“Circumstances surrounding the evolving Ray Rice story is where we must begin,” Brown said at the top of the 7:30pmET pre-show, then tossing to “CBS Evening News” anchor Scott Pelley in New York who updated viewers on the case.
CBS had planned to run a segment featuring Rihanna singing the Jay Z song “Run This Town,” but that was cut in lieu of the Rice news. A few minutes later, “CBS This Morning” anchor Norah O’Donnell joined Brown on set in Baltimore. O’Donnell interviewed NFL commissioner Roger Goodell earlier this week, but since then new news has come out that Rice told Goodell he hit his then-fiancee, that February night in Atlantic City, videotaped evidence of which thrust the story back on the front page this week.
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As for CBS’ first Thursday Night Football (8-11pmET), the network is thrilled with the ratings outcome. The overnight ratings show a primetime household rating/share of 12.9/22, +215% higher than the comparable CBS primetime programming a year ago. This was CBS’ best primetime Thursday delivery since May 18, 2006.
This summer, we’re putting a spotlight on the industry’s top producers; getting the inside story about their shows, how they got to where they are, and advice they have for future TV journalists.
After 20 years at 30 Rock, which saw him rise from producer, to executive producer to president of NBC News, Steve Capus took a break from the business last year. Not long after entering the world of academia, Capus was pulled back in to TV news signing on as EP of the “CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley.”
Capus, who is one of only a few people to have overseen flagship newscasts on two networks, says the evening news is alive and well: “I’m so sick of seeing articles written about how these broadcasts are going to die off,” he tells us.
TVNewser: You’ve been in the TV news business for almost 30 years. What are the biggest changes you’ve seen?
Capus: There are a number of changes and yet the more things change, the more they stay the same. The technological changes are obvious and the ease that our audiences can consume our content has obviously been the biggest change. On the technological side, it’s so much easier these days to do a broadcast from a place like Iraq [where Scott Pelley reported from this week]. And yet, the reason I say things stay the same, what still comes into play is the fundamentals: a commitment to outstanding journalism, enterprise reporting, investigative reporting, strong storytelling; those things will never go out of fashion. If anything, the people who make those commitments to all of of those things are going to continue to stay relevant to the audience in a world where so much news information is commoditized. Making those commitments to doing those things in a unique manner is how you end up standing out from the crowd.
TVNewser: You were President of NBC News in your last 8 years there. What made you want to return to the business an an EP?
For its upcoming October issue, Scott Pelley talks to Watch! Magazine about three years anchoring the “CBS Evening News.” Pelley, who’s reporting from Iraq this week, stresses how pivotal the production process is.
“Anchoring is 30 minutes at the end of my day – just one last little thing I have to do. It’s the 10.5 hours before that that makes the broadcast what it is. The whole day is about what are we going to cover, how are we going to cover it, then editing all the scripts that come in because – as I always say to my guys, and they roll their eyes when they hear me say it – there’s no such thing as good writing, there’s only rewriting.”
Pelley also shares his scariest reporting experience to date.
In an interview with “CBS This Morning” co-anchor Norah O’Donnell, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell addressed how TMZ—and not the NFL—got its hands on elevator footage showing Ray Rice hitting his then-fiancee.
“I don’t know how TMZ or any other website gets their information,” Goodell said. “We are particularly reliant on law enforcement, that’s the most reliable, that’s the most credible, and we don’t seek to get that information from sources that are not credible.” Goodell said the NFL asked for the same videotape TMZ secured on “several occasions.” He also didn’t rule out the possibility of Ray Rice returning to the NFL in the future.
Last night, TMZ executive producer Harvey Levin told Greta Van Susteren he doubted Goodell’s defense. ”Why on earth does he not think the casino [where the incident occurred] video, which is the basis for what the police have in the first place; why does he suggest that the casino isn’t as credible as the police? The police got it from the casino.”
To borrow a football term, CBS Sports NFL studio host James Brown‘s first big break was a bit of a hail mary. At a 1970s audition to announce for the then-NBA Washington Bullets, Brown took it upon himself to land a big interview. “They were impressed that I brought the team star over on his day off and conducted a pretty decent interview,” Brown told us.
Even with the occasional on-air fumble along the way, Brown has never become complacent. “I still work just as hard now, if not harder, as I did back then getting started.” Beginning tomorrow, James Brown adds hosting “NFL Thursday Night Kickoff” to his CBS schedule.