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Posts Tagged ‘Alison Stewart’

Alison Stewart’s Path from Anchor to Author: ‘It’s a Little Bit Art, a Little Bit Archeology’

When it comes to career paths, Alison Stewart prefers jungle gyms to ladders.

“Instead of ‘climbing the ladder’ and going straight up through the ranks, you zig zag your way up, like on a jungle gym” says Stewart, referencing Sheryl Sandberg’s bestseller, ‘Lean In.’ “I could never explain it before. I just kept getting good offers at places, so I took them.”

After zig zagging from MTV to CBS to ABC to MSNBC to PBS, Stewart’s latest incarnation is as author. ‘First Class: The Legacy of Dunbar, America’s First Black Public High School,’ her inaugural book, was released earlier this month. Both her parents graduated from the Washington, D.C. school.

Stewart began working on ‘Dunbar’ in 2006, while at MSNBC. Five years later, she left her job as cohost of PBS’s ‘Need to Know’ to focus fulltime on the book, and to care for her ailing parents. They later died.

“I always wanted to write a book,” says Stewart, 47, a Brown alum. “I had been offered a ‘Hey, I was at MTV, then at the networks, what did I see?’ deal, and maybe I’ll write that book someday, but I wanted to dig into something that would have some kind of lasting value beyond being entertaining.”

Stewart found herself in a race against time, since many of the early Dunbar grads were in their 80s and 90s. She recorded their memories of the legendary school, which in its prime produced the first black member of a presidential Cabinet, the first black general of the U.S. Army and the first black federal judge.

“I loved talking to people, going into their homes, spending hours with them,” says Stewart, who often traveled by bus from New York and crashed on friends’ couches to minimize expenses. “The research was my favorite part. You discover things. It’s a little bit art, a little bit archeology.”

The writing process, however, was an altogether different experience. “It was a lot lonelier than I expected,” says Stewart, who is married to Bill Wolff, VP of MSNBC primetime and executive producer of “The Rachel Maddow Show.” They have a five-year-old son, Isaac.

“I had to go from being part of a TV show I really liked, to having very little human contact. I hung out with my kid a lot. I took guitar classes. I had to be a lot more proactive about being with other moms — I was ‘class mom’ for two years in preschool.”

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‘World News Now’ Celebrates 20 Years

While NBC celebrates 60 years of “Today” next week, today ABC is marking 20 years of “World News Now.” ABC News president Ben Sherwood calls the overnight news show, “the unsung hero of our news division.” And to the production team, “You all have the confidence and creativity to take risks and reap the rewards.”

The show, created by David Bohrman, who went on to CNN and is now president of Current TV, debuted January 6, 1992.

“We never imagined that our little overnight effort would last so long, inform and entertain so many people, and launch so many careers,” Bohrman tells TVNewser. Bohrman says he still has the audition tapes from original anchors Aaron Brown and Lisa McRee. Over the years, other anchors have included Anderson Cooper, Alison Stewart, Kevin Newman, Thalia AssurasJuju Chang, Jeremy Hubbard, David Muir and more.

Bohrman has one bit of advice for the current producers: “They should bring back the World News Now Temperature Index.” Here’s a best-of video, shown this morning on the show:

And this wasn’t the only TV news morning marker Today.

Sherwood’s note, after the jump…

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New Year, New High for ’60 Minutes’

Sunday’s New Year’s Day edition of “60 Minutes” finished as the third most-watched show of the week and was the most-watched non-sports program of the holiday week.

The program, which started late due to the overrun of the San Diego-Oakland game, drew 14.45 million Total Viewers to rank #3 for the week. The show also made the Top 10 in households at #3, scoring an 8.7 rating and 14 share, according to Nielsen live plus same day ratings.

Sunday’s broadcast featured Lesley Stahl‘s profile of Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), a special report from Alison Stewart on a college entrance exam cheating scandal, and a re-air of Lara Logan’s story about freestyle climber Alex Honnold.

Alison Stewart to report for ’60 Minutes’ Sunday

Former MSNBC anchor Alison Stewart is reporting a story for Sunday’s “60 Minutes.” Stewart got the first interview with 19-year-old Sam Eshaghoff, an Emory University student facing criminal fraud and impersonation charges for taking the SAT and ACT for fellow students. He took the test at least 20 times charging up to $2,500 per exam.

It’s a return to CBS News for Stewart who worked for the network in 1996 reporting for “Sunday Morning,” and “48 Hours.” Stewart has also worked for ABC News, as “World News Now” anchor and spent four years at MSNBC from 2003-2007. Until September, Stewart anchored “Need to Know” a weekly PBS series.

Rachel Maddow Likes the Fox News/Fox Business Christmas Cards: ‘Cartoony. I Like That’

MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” had their holiday party last night at the home of show EP Bill Wolff, who wore a tuxedo we hear, and his wife Alison Stewart.

But before the soiree, on her show, Maddow did a segment on Christmas cards. Specifically, a story on Fox News about the Obama family Christmas card which FNC analyst and former VP nominee Sarah Palin called “odd” for emphasizing Bo the dog instead of traditions like “family, faith and freedom.”

Maddow took a look back at other holiday cards from other presidents including Pres. Bush and Pres. Reagan. She then showed the greeting card sent by the media relations teams at Fox News and Fox Business Network. (Ours are hung by the chimney with care). Maddow:

As somebody who is being made fun of in the Fox News Christmas card, I think that is a funny card. It is a good Christmas card. Cartoony. I like that.

She continued:

Alison Stewart Leaving ‘Need to Know’

Alison Stewart is leaving the PBS show “Need to Know,” the NYTimes reports. Stewart had been solo anchor of the show since Jon Meacham departed in March. “For a show about politics you have to have someone available and present 110 percent of the time,” Stewart says.

Between a book she is completing and her 3-year-old, she said, “I didn’t feel like I was the right person and that it was the right time to continue with the show.” Her last appearance is expected to be Sept. 9.

Stewart is married to MSNBC primetime VP Bill Wolff. The two met when Stewart was an anchor at the cable network. The Times reports, “in addition to her book, she would probably do some freelance work back in the commercial news world. Stewart is also an alum of ABC News, CBS News and MTV News.

Jon Meacham leaving ‘Need to Know’

Jon Meacham is leaving his weekly TV show, “Need to Know” which is produced by New York PBS station, WNET. Alison Stewart, former MSNBC and ABC News anchor, will be the show’s solo host.

Meacham is staying on with WNET and will lead a new series of called “Perspectives” which will air on TV and online. He’ll also continue to contribute to “Need to Know.”

“I love Alison and the Need to Know team, but I don’t think the broadcast needs me as a co-anchor,” Meacham said. “When I told Neal [Shapiro, president of WNET] that I would be leaving, he very kindly asked me to consider this other possibility. It’s a great idea for me, and I’m looking forward to it.”

Meacham, who is a familiar face on cable news left his job as editor of Newsweek after The Washington Post sold it last year. In October he joined Random House as EVP and Executive Editor.

PBS ‘Need to Know’ Wants to Know About Its Future

The weekly PBS newsmagazine “Need to Know” is in the awkward position of not knowing what its future holds. As The NY Times notes, PBS has not decided whether to renew the program yet.

Like all PBS programs, the show is produced by a local station, in this case New York’s WNET.org. WNET has been receiving feedback from other stations that broadcast the show, both positive and negative.

One thing that seems clear: of the two anchors, Alison Stewart and Jon Meacham, Stewart looks far more comfortable in front of the camera. So if changes do get made in a second season, it looks like Meacham might be in the hot seat.

As the Times notes, it comes down to the budget:

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What Kathy Griffin Didn’t Say During CNN’s New Year’s Eve

Is it news when something doesn’t happen? Kathy Griffin was not yanked off CNN last night. Griffin, who referred to her turn on CNN’s New Year’s Eve as “Yank Watch 2011,” kept it clean during her co-hosting gig alongside Anderson Cooper. Last year, Griffin dropped the “F” bomb and the year before she heckled an onlooker who’d been heckling her. This year Griffin got physical. She slugged Cooper a few times (above), tried to take off his clothes, and kissed his producer four minutes before midnight.

TVNewser was there again on the press platform where CNN’s Cooper and Griffin broadcast from the west end, while on the east end of the riser, high above Duffy Square, Fox News’ Megyn Kelly and Bill Hemmer hosted FNC’s “All American New Year.” In between stood two rows of local and national news anchors broadcasting in multiple languages to networks around the world.

Fox News hosts Ainsley Earhardt, Kimberly Guilfoyle and Greg Gutfeld roamed the Crossroads of the World talking with some of the 1 million revelers on a rare December night where, thanks to a 40-degree temperature, one couldn’t see their breath.

Leading up to the main events on broadcast and cable news channels, E!’s Bill and Giuliana Rancic hosted festivities for the Times Square crowed. Leading up to midnight, we ran into CBS News “Early Show” EP David Friedman who spent seven New Year’s Eves here producing Carson Daly‘s NBC special. Friedman, who joined CBS in late 2009, is back at work today doing rehearsals with the new “Early Show” anchor team which debuts Monday morning. “We’ve changed the set a bit, so we want to be ready for Monday,” Friedman told us. On the NBC special this year, NBC News’ Natalie Morales and Amy Robach worked the crowd.

Fox News host Ainsley Earhardt during FNC's New Year's Eve Special

There was the occasional star sighting from the acts who appeared on Dick Clark’s ABC special: Ke$hia, and the combined New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys, to native New Yorker Gary Marshall who’s back in the city filming a new movie and the “Old Spice” guy, Isaiah Mustafa. Photos after the jump…

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Jon Meacham Leaving Newsweek, What About ‘Need to Know?’

meacham080210.jpg

Our sister blog FishbowlNY has been all over the sale of Newsweek to tycoon Sidney Harman. Among the news: Newsweek editor Jon Meacham will leave the venerable magazine once the sale is complete. Meacham of course also hosts “Need to Know” on PBS, with Alison Stewart. Will his departure from Newsweek affect his hosting duties on PBS? Stay tuned…

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