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‘Primetime LIVE!’ 25 Years Later

Primetime89

There was a big reunion last night to commemorate the 25th anniversary of ABC’s “Primetime Live.”

About 100 former correspondents, editors, researchers, PAs, APs, and photographers celebrated at the home of author Holly Peterson, who was a researcher on the show. Diane Sawyer was in attendance. Her co-anchor Sam Donaldson sent his regards from Albuquerque, where he now lives.

ABC News president Roone Arledge created the show in 1989. He wooed Sawyer away from “60 Minutes” to be the co-anchor for the new live primetime newsmagazine. Donaldson was fresh from covering the White House for ABC News. The first episode included live studio audience. As Donaldson put it, the audience participation “was not [like] Oprah or Donahue… They are terrific shows, but that’s not us.” Fox News’ Chris Wallace and the late Judd Rose were correspondents.

Early staffers in attendance last night included Disney ABC TV Group president Ben Sherwood, who was an associate producer on the show; correspondent Jay Schadler; producers Betsy West, now with the Columbia Journalism School, Neal Shapiro, now with WNET, Mark Lukasiewicz, now with NBC, David Doss, now with Al Jazeera America; also Ira Rosen and Rick Kaplan, plus Jeanmarie Condon and Marc Burstein, who now have executive roles at ABC News.

Insiders tell us Sawyer delivered a toast to the team, for their passion and hard work, while Burstein read a note from Donaldson sending regrets and sharing how proud he was of the work he did at “Primetime (as he used to say) LIVE!”

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