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Ashleigh Banfield on Her Last Days at NBC: “I Was Banished. I Sat in the Outfield For A Long Time”

Banfield_1128.jpgCourtTV’s Ashleigh Banfield talks with for our So What Do You Do? series. Part of it is excerpted below. TVNewser contributor Diane Clehane asked the former MSNBC anchor and NBC News correspondent about her undoing at the network:

In the months following 9/11 you were being touted as one of NBC’s rising stars. The New York Post even mentioned you as possible successor to Katie Couric. Then, just as quickly, it seemed as if you dropped out of sight. What happened?

The Iraq war started to develop and I gave a very controversial speech at Kansas State [University] about the press’s responsibility in covering international affairs. I sent out a cautionary note to all my colleagues covering this conflict and chastened the press corps not to wave the banner and cover warfare in a jingoistic way. It didn’t sit well with my employers at NBC — who are no longer there. I think they overacted. I was banished. I sat in the outfield for a long time.

When did you officially leave NBC?

I left in 2004 — a few months after my contract expired. I was very much in the warehouse while my contract petered out.

Looking back on that time, what were the biggest lessons you learned?

On one hand you could say, “Keep your mouth shut while our nation is embroiled in war,” but I don’t think that was a responsible way to behave. If I have been fortunate enough to have risen to level in this business where people would actually listen to me, then I think I have a duty to convey all truths that I encounter. I felt it was my duty at the time. I was a war correspondent who had seen that the hearts and minds of the Arab world were not that easy to win.

Wishing On A Star

star_8.2b.jpgThe CourtTV folks have sent along the press kit (skinny Star pictures and all) for the upcoming Star Jones show.

CourtTV writes, Jones’s program “will be a live, daily talk show that features the day’s top stories and top guests from the worlds of law, news, pop culture & entertainment.”

The show premieres August 20, at 3pm ET.

Court TV Evacuated After NYC Explosion

Court TV’s offices on the 19th floor of a nearby building were evacuated following the steam pipe explosion in New York City yesterday.

“It was ten to 6:00, we heard a loud explosion. It felt like an earthquake,” Adaora Udoji said on CNN last night. “I’m a block down. We’re on the 19th floor. And it was shaking, we looked out the window. We saw hundreds and hundreds of people running down Third Avenue.”

A Star Is Reborn

Star Jones’s self-titled daily talk show is just a few weeks away from launching on Court TV (soon to be truTV). The Chicago Tribune’s Maureen Ryan was in the crowd for the Sunday morning session of the Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills.

Jones didn’t talk much about her new show, or about the topic most reporters seemed to want to know about: her extreme makeover. Turns out Star is saving the good parts for a Glamour article she is writing.

She was also asked about “The View’s” roller coaster of a year. “I was a part of an amazing pop culture experience. Barbara Walters gave me the opportunity of lifetime,” Reynolds said. “So I’m not going to do anything that damages that warm feeling that I had. I’m not going to pile on.”

Nancy Grace Says Goodbye To Court TV

Court TV made Nancy Grace. But now the network and its star host are going their separate ways.

Grace, now best known for her primetime show on Headline News, said goodbye to Court TV yesterday. She signed off from “Nancy Grace: Closing Arguments” at 5pm…

Nancy Grace Leaves Court TV: “To Focus On My HLN Program & My Charitable Endeavors”

“After ten wonderful years at Court TV, I have decided to leave the network to focus on my Headline News program and my charitable endeavors,” Nancy Grace said in a statement today. “Court TV will always hold a special place in my heart, and I will always look back at my time there with great gratitude and affection.”

Sources tell Variety that she “had been considering” this change “for some time.”

“Grace’s show will continue to air between 3 pm to 5 pm through the summer,” the site reports…

Grace Leaves Court TV: Statement

A Court TV spokesperson says:

Nancy Grace has been an invaluable part of the Court TV family for over 10 years. It is with great respect and immeasurable gratitude that we have agreed to let her out of her contract. We wish her all the best as she leaves Court TV to focus on her Headline News program and her many charitable endeavors, and we will continue to count ourselves among her biggest fans.”

“Passing Of An Era” For Court TV

The changes to Court TV — most importantly, the end of all-day trial coverage with evening analysis — is the end of an era, outgoing anchor Catherine Crier says.

In a speech in Florida this week, she said: “They have put up a new evening lineup: a lot of explosions, a lot of car chases, a lot of cops, a lot of beach babes.

It is the passing of an era for me, because I do think, despite a lot of its sensational character, there’s been some real substance covered, and I think people have been fascinated about the inner workings of the court system.”

Court TV Cancels Catherine Crier Live

crierapril10.jpgB&C has the scoop: “Court TV has cancelled legal news show Catherine Crier Live after a seven-year run.”

Court TV is becoming less and less of a news net. “As part of Court TV’s re-branding strategy… the 5-6 p.m. hour is slated to feature the type of real-life stories that have given our prime-time line-up such strong ratings momentum,” the net says…

Banfield: Being At Court TV Is “Refreshing”

Former MSNBCer Ashleigh Banfield sometimes misses the hard news beat. But she enjoys the “pure editorial sense” at her new home, Court TV. In a Q&A with, she says it’s refreshing:

  “The difference between being here and some of my previous work is that I can’t say that you feel 100% proud all of the time when you’re doing cable news. And I don’t have that problem here. If we’re covering Anna Nicole Smith, it’s not for any reason except that she’s involved in some very serious legal questions. There aren’t some of the pressures here that I’ve felt other places, and that’s refreshing.”

Here’s the full interview…