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Archives: March 2008

Covering The King Anniversary

kingspecial_3-31.jpgThis Friday marks the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and networks are set to mark the occasion in a variety of ways.

CNN’s Soledad O’Brien anchors the special “Eyewitness to Murder: The King Assassination” at 9pmET on Thursday. The special is the first in CNN’s Black in America series.

The Memphis Commercial Appeal highlights some of the coverage taking place in the area.

The Appeal notes that “news teams from around the world,” are converging on Memphis, with CBS producer Mary Lou Teel and CBS Capital Hill correspondent Chip Reid there last weekend. Also, slated to originate from Memphis will be live broadcasts of the NBC Nightly News, reports from Today show hosts Ann Curry and Al Roker and a live cut-in from CNN’s Larry King Live on Friday. BBC World News is also in town, among other international news organizations.

The week after the anniversary, MSNBC revisits the issue of race in America with the special “Meeting David Wilson,” airing at 9pmET on April 11, hosted by Tiki Barber. A 90-minute live discussion, anchored by Brian Williams, follows the special.

Click continued to read the release…

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Dateline Has Biggest Audience in 17 Months

Dateline’s two-hour special Friday night featuring the mistaken identity story of the Van Ryn and Cerak families helped give the newsmagazine its best numbers in almost 17 months (Oct. 20, 2006). 10.5M Total Viewers (Nielsen fast affiliate/live +SD) watched the show. Additionally, the Matt Lauer special averaged a 3.2 rating/10 share in A18-49; the best since December 1, 2006.

The second hour of the special is poised to win the time period in Total Viewers and the key demos, beating CBS’s coverage of the NCAA tournament and ABC’s 20/20. Final numbers will be released this afternoon.

It’s A Girl For Today‘s Giada DeLaurentiis

DeLaurentiis.jpgToday contributor Giada De Laurentiis is a first-time mom: Jade Marie De Laurentiis Thompson was born on Saturday afternoon, weighing 5 lbs, 13 oz. She arrived five days ahead of her due date.

De Laurentiis, a professional chef and Food Network fixture, is married to clothing designer Todd Thompson. She had announced her pregnancy on-air last fall, telling Today viewers that Thompson was excited but “freaked out”, too.

In addition to her mom, Baby Jade has another famous family member: her great-grandfather is film producer Dino De Laurentiis.

Another photo of Jade is after the jump.

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ABC’s Water Webcasts

worldnewsweblogo_3-31.jpgBeginning today at 3pmET, ABC’s World News webcast will feature reports on the world’s water supplies every day this week. The reports will take place from five different regions around the globe.

Today’s report by Dana Hughes, comes from Ethiopia, and is based around the efforts being made to better manage water resources. Later this week reports will focus on the United Arab Emirates, India and the United States.

The reports will be part of the daily webcast, anchored by Charles Gibson, that airs live online every day at 3pmET. It can be viewed on the ABC News web site, ABC News NOW and is available on iTunes, RSS feeds and mobile phones.

“Making Room” for Kathie Lee

GIfford_3.31.jpgIt’s official. Starting next Monday, Kathie Lee Gifford joins Hoda Kotb to anchor the fourth hour of the Today show. “I’m eight years older, ten pounds heavier and a half inch shorter, and just in time for HD television,” said Gifford on the increasingly expanding Today show couch. When Meredith Vieira asked what convinced her to return to morning TV, Gifford said, in a word, “Hoda.” The two had lunch at the Rainbow Room and immediately hit it off.

The fourth hour launched Sept. 10 with Kotb, Ann Curry and Natalie Morales as co-anchors. Matt Lauer sorted out the anchor details going forward, “Ann and Natalie are going to be spending more time with us on this show” (in fact, by 8am, Curry was off to join Sen. Barack Obama on the campaign trail, so Morales read the news update.) To Curry and Morales, Gifford added, “you guys must be relieved a little bit, too…so thank you for making room for me.”

The press release is after the jump…

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Marash’s AJE Exit “Was More With My American Accent and My American Point of View”

Gail Shister
TVNewser Columnist

Marash_3.31.jpgBombs away, Al Jazeera.


Dave Marash, a recent exile of Al Jazeera English, says his new book “certainly won’t be a ‘kiss and tell,’ ‘cut and whine’” about his former employer.

The ex-”Nightline” correspondent confirms he’s close to a deal for “The World Really is Watching,” (working title), an analysis of the planet-wide expansion of television news. He’s been mulling the topic for a while.

“I feel like I’ve got a book in me and I’ve got to get it out.”

Whether Americans like it or not, Al Jazeera, the controversial Arab-language news network based in Doha, “is a major milestone in the movement toward a media global culture,” says Marash, formerly AJE’s Washington-based U.S. anchor.

Marash’s two-year contract expired in February. He left March 21 in a huff over AJE’s increasing Middle Eastern spin on its U.S. coverage, he says. His wife, Amy Marash, an AJE video journalist, exited a week before him.

“The oddity is, everywhere else, particularly in the Southern hemisphere, their reporting is excellent, intelligent, authentic and driven by people from the place they’re covering,” he says. “In the U.S., they found it ‘hard to find’ American talent. It wouldn’t be that hard if they were looking.”

Marash, 65, says his dissatisfaction had been building over the last eight or nine months “as it became clear to me that, for some reason, the U.S. was not a journalistic priority.

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Kathie Lee Gifford Back to the Mornings

Gifford_3.30.jpgInsiders tell TVNewser the big announcement promised by Matt Lauer Friday morning is that Kathie Lee Gifford will be joining the Today show. The announcement will be made during the 7:30am half hour with Gifford on hand.

Starting next Monday, Gifford will be teamed with Hoda Kotb to anchor the network’s seven-month-old fourth hour. Insiders tell us Gifford and Kotb took part in a photo shoot Saturday to promote the pairing. The fourth hour of the Today show airs at 10am most markets, meaning Gifford will go head to head in some parts of the country with her former co-host of Live Regis Philbin.

> Related: The Washington Post reviews the fourth hour of Today: an “excruciating additional 60 minutes…dominated by extreme weight-loss stories, ambush makeovers and recipes for carrot cake so good that it will make a man propose.”

John Roberts: American Morning Likely To Be “A Little Looser”

J Roberts.jpg With April 16 marking his one-year anniversary as co-anchor of CNN’s American Morning, John Roberts is profiled by TV Guide.

Asked by writer Stephen Battaglio about what he expects when AM gets a new executive producer, Roberts says, “We’ll take the opportunity to just tweak around the edges of the show. The show as it is right now is fairly heavily scripted. I think what we’re going to do going forward we’ll try to pare back the amount of scripting that we’ve got and introduce a little more of an ad lib aspect to it, which will make the show a little looser, a little more accessible…”

Battaglio also asks about AM not being “as breezy as the other morning shows”. To that, Roberts responds, “We find our viewers turn out to be after real actual news rather than lighter information. They don’t come to us to learn how to cook a hamburger or the latest celebrity gossip. It’s a little more business-like.”

CNN Adds a Blitzer Hour to Sunday Prime

Wolf_3.30.jpgCNN just announced that Wolf Blitzer‘s day just got longer. Blitzer anchors a special Sunday night edition of The Situation Room at 8pmET “focusing on the presidential race”, said Blitzer during Late Edition. An interesting programming move considering this is the final day of March ratings and CNN holds a slim 1,000 viewer advantage over MSNBC in prime time (Mon-Sun, 8p-11p) in the key A25-54 demo.

Is adding a Blitzer hour CNN’s way of helping keep that lead, considering MSNBC has come in first the last three Sundays in the prime demo?

Today’s “Major Announcement”

Matt Lauer from Friday’s Today show:

“Monday right here on Today we have a major announcement that we’re going to make. I’m not kidding around about this. It’s a great announcement. You’ll have to tune in Monday morning to check it out.

A) Matt announces the next “Where in the World?”…
B) Ann Curry gets the first post-wedding interview with Brangelina. Oh wait, they didn’t get married or maybe they did or maybe no one cares
C) Kathie Lee Gifford will be announced as the new co-anchor of the fourth hour…

Any guesses?

More: Let’s add a (D) to our list of possibilities: could it have something to do with a prediction made by Today EP Jim Bell right here on TVNewser back in December? As part of TVNewser’s Great ’08 Expectations, Bell said that in 2008, Today would likely “go back to ‘The Ends of the Earth‘, with a twist.” Hmmm.