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Posts Tagged ‘Ben Sherwood’

Deborah Turness to Work with ‘Today’ Team Until GM Slot is Filled

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Back in January, NBC News president Deborah Turness sent out this org chart of her senior leadership team. There was a slot to fill: SVP and GM of the “Today” show. Today, that position is open again.

Jamie Horowitz, hired for the job back in May, didn’t make it to his first official day with NBC — Dec. 1. As TVNewser first reported, Horowitz was fired late Monday.

This morning, insiders tell us Matt Lauer was among those who’d lost faith in his leadership, but that any goodwill Horowitz had earned from Turness and her boss, Pat Fili-Krushel, who both recruited Horowitz from ESPN earlier this year, had run out.

Horowitz had been making the rounds at the show since September.  “He’s a really smart guy, and he’s been great at reaching out to us, getting our input, and so far we’re really impressed,” co-host Willie Geist told TVNewser two weeks ago.

It was in those meetings, from top talent, to the production assistants, that a profile began to emerge of an executive who would pit staffers against one another; a game of ‘Survivor,’ the Daily News called it, with people’s livelihoods at stake. “He was creating drama that wasn’t there,” an insider says.

Geist, who knows Horowitz personally, was among those angered by his antics. (Geist’s sister Libby worked with Horowitz at ESPN and is married to his former producing partner Kevin Wildes.)

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Eric Avram Promoted at Disney/ABC TV Group

EricAvramDisney Media Networks co-chairman Anne Sweeney and Disney-ABC TV Group president Ben Sherwood announced the promotion of longtime ABC Newser Eric Avram to the new role of VP for Talent, Booking and ABC News Specialized Units within the Disney/ABC TV Group. A 20-year ABC veteran, Avram is currently the Senior Executive Producer of Division-wide Interviews, overseeing all ABC News booking teams as well as the Investigative, Medical, Business and Law & Justice teams.

Avram will oversee and coordinate major bookings and special projects for DATG’s global television properties, owned TV stations and radio while continuing to manage the ABC News Specialized Units.

“He is a dynamic leader, consummate teammate and proven force in the highly competitive booking arena,” writes Sherwood in a note to staffers. “Over the years he and the relentless bookers of ABC News have chased and locked up some of the most memorable interviews and moments on our programs and platforms.”

Avram most recently worked on a project with Taylor Swift, coinciding with the launch of her new album, and leveraging the resources of ABC-Yahoo!, Good Morning America, Nightline and Fusion.

Bill Wolff Named EP of ‘The View;’ Brian Balthazar Joining ABC Show as co-EP

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A week after signing off as EP of “The Rachel Maddow Show,” Bill Wolff (above left) has been announced as the new executive producer of “The View.”

The show also made other behind-the-scenes changes including the addition of another TV news veteran, Brian Balthazar (above right) as co-executive producer. Ashley S. Gorman will be the show’s director in the new season, and Kathleen Rajsp has been named senior supervising producer.

“I am so appreciative for the privilege to work on this iconic program and to have the chance to collaborate with incredible people like Whoopi and Rosie, who each bring immense talent and boundless passion to show,” Wolff said in a statement. “I will be forever grateful to Rachel Maddow for six amazing years together. As I begin this next chapter, I cannot fully express my profound gratitude to [Disney/ABC TV president] Ben Sherwood for making it all possible.”

Balthazar, an MSNBC alum like Wolff, joins from AOL where he was head of programming. He’s also been in the talk show trenches working many years at the “Today” show. He launched the fourth hour of “Today” with Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford, before going to work as a director of programming at HGTV.

Gorman has directed thousands of hours of live shows in the U.K. and the U.S. including: “Hell’s Kitchen,” “I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here…NOW!,” and “The Biggest Loser.”

Rajsp has worked on “Katie,” “Anderson” and “Dr. Phil,” among others.

The new season of “The View” begins Monday, Sept. 15.

ABC Newsers Toast Ben Sherwood

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As Ben Sherwood heads West, his East Coast colleagues sent him off in style last night at the Nomad Hotel in New York’s Flatiron District. Sherwood, named co-president of Disney/ABC TV in March, is moving his family to Los Angeles.

Insiders tell us heartfelt toasts were given by Barbara Walters, Diane Sawyer, Robin Roberts, George Stephanopoulos, David Muir and Lara Spencer. Sherwood got a big laugh when he promised Stephanopoulos a reality show, detective comedy or both.

And there were gifts: Sherwood was given a framed golden headset to remind him of his days in the control room — with the label “break in case of emergency,” while the whole family got ABC News Extreme Weather Team jackets — with “Sherwood” embroidered on the back.

Sherwood’s had three stints with ABC News, starting in 1989 as a producer at “Primetime Live.” After a run at “NBC Nightly News,” Sherwood returned to ABC in 2004 for a two-year stint as EP of “Good Morning America.” Sherwood turned to writing, penning three best-sellers, one of which was turned into a major motion picture. In 2010, he returned to ABC as News president.

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Ann Compton to Retire After 41 Years at ABC

ann comptonVeteran White House correspondent Ann Compton — who has covered seven presidents during her time at ABC News — will retire this fall, Politico Playbook reports this morning. She will officially retire September 10, 41 years to the day after she started at ABC News.

Allen rounds up some thoughts from Compton’s ABC News colleagues:

BEN SHERWOOD, co-president, Disney/ABC Television Group, calls Ann “the pride of Virginia … pioneer, ceiling shatterer, and radiant soul. Her stats read like Babe Ruth (7 presidents, 50 states, etc.) Our first reaction when she shared the news: ‘Say it ain’t so.’ Our next: ABC News has been blessed every single day since she first walked in the door in 1973. We love her, we thank her, we wish her the very best, and we know she’s going to have a blast with Dr. Hughes and her wonderful family. She will always have a home in our White House booth and ABC News.”

ROBIN SPROUL, ABC News Washington bureau chief: ”She is a reporter of boundless energy who brings her A-game every day … She simply loves the beat. … She has a flair for storytelling, for capturing the day’s moments, and she knows as well as any other reporter in town how Washington works. … Ann is also a generous colleague who has helped many a new reporter covering the White House learn the ropes. … We will miss Ann so much. She is simply irreplaceable.”

>Update: Steve Jones, the vice president and general manager for ABC News Radio, sent the following note to the radio division about Compton this afternoon: Read more

The A.M. Ticker: Journalist Killed, Transgender Seal, Moving On

  • AP video journalist Simone Camilli was killed today after ordnance left over from fighting in Gaza exploded. Camillia, an Italian national and his translator, Palestinian Shehda Abu Afash were killed as they reporting on the aftermath of the war. Following the news, AP president Gary Pruitt sent a note to the AP’s global staff about the dangers of their work.

  • CNN’s latest documentary tells the story of a U.S. Navy SEAL whose service included 13 tours of combat duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. But when Christopher Beck became Kristin Beck, the real battles began. “LADY VALOR: The Kristin Beck Story” is produced by Mark Herzog and Christopher G. Cowen. The two-hour film premieres on CNN Thursday, Sept. 4.

  • Susan Mercandetti is leaving ABC News to start her own media consulting company. Mercandetti has had two stints at ABC. She returned in April 2011 as VP of business development. Mercandetti has already lined up Disney/ABC, Univision and Fusion as her first clients, says Disney/ABC TV president Ben Sherwood. His note after the jump…

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Diane Sawyer Leaving ‘ABC World News;’ David Muir Takes Over as Anchor and Managing Editor

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Breaking: ABC’s Diane Sawyer is stepping down from anchoring “World News” and will focus on primetime specials, big interviews, and enterprise reporting for the network. David Muir, who has been sole anchor of the “World News” weekend editions since 2011, will take over as anchor and managing editor of the flagship broadcast on September 2. Muir, 40, will continue to co-anchor “20/20″ with Elizabeth Vargas.

Also announced today, “Good Morning America” co-host and “This Week” anchor George Stephanopoulos takes on the new role of chief anchor of ABC News. He’ll lead special reports, breaking news and election night coverage for the network as well as continuing with “GMA” and “This Week.”

Insiders tell us Sawyer began talking with former ABC News president Ben Sherwood late last year about a transition from the anchor desk. With the retirement of Barbara Walters last month, Sawyer will now take on some of the specials and interviews that for years were part of Walters’ stock in trade.

Under Sawyer, “World News” has been gaining on “NBC Nightly News.” The broadcast won the May sweeps in the A25-54 demo for the first time in more than 6 years. Sawyer, who began anchoring “World News” in December 2009, is the second woman to solo anchor a network nightly newscast, following Katie Couric‘s 2006-2011 run at “CBS Evening News.” “NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams” maintains a one million viewer lead most nights on “World News” and hasn’t lost a week among total viewers in nearly 5 years.

The Sawyer, Muir and Stephanopoulos news is at the top of the agenda of ABC News president James Goldston‘s morning editorial meeting. We’ll have details if/when we get them this morning. A replacement for Muir on the weekend newscasts will come at a later date.

‘Primetime LIVE!’ 25 Years Later

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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!”

ABC News Has Best May Sweep Since Roone Arledge was In Charge

Goldston_Sawyer_Walters304ABC News is taking a victory lap after the network’s newscasts finished in first place in either the key news demo or total viewers, or, in the case of “Good Morning America,” both.

It was ABC’s best May sweep since since 1995, when legendary ABC News president Roone Arledge was in charge. As we reported earlier this week, “World News” won the A25-54 demo for the first time in more than six years. “Good Morning America” won the month in both Total Viewers and A25-54, with the largest demo lead over NBC’s “Today” in 20 years.

“This Week with George Stephanopoulos” finishes #1 in the A25-54 demo, its first win in that demo in nearly 21 years.

“Nightline” won its first sweeps period ever in Total Viewers in its new time slot out-delivering NBC’s “Late Night with Seth Meyers” and CBS’ “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.” (Meyers still takes the younger demos).

And “20/20″ wins the A18-49 demo in the Friday 10pm time slot and had its strongest May sweep in 7 years in Total Viewers, since May 2007.

Arledge is credited with building a formidable team of on-air journalists including Peter Jennings, Barbara Walters, Diane Sawyer, and David Brinkley during his tenure as president of ABC News from 1977 – 1998, putting ABC News in a competitive position for the first time with stalwarts CBS News and NBC News. Arledge passed away in 2002.

The May wins come as a transition in leadership is underway at ABC News with James Goldston (pictured above with Sawyer and Walters on Wednesday) taking over as news president in April from Ben Sherwood who is now president of the Disney/ABC TV group.

Much more in a release, with details, after the jump…

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Barbara Walters Comes Out of Retirement to Toast Diane Sawyer

Barbara Walters dropped by her building this afternoon to make sure the rent was still being paid. Actually, she stopped by ABC News HQ to toast her friend and colleague Diane Sawyer and her “World News” team for finishing May sweeps No. 1 in the A25-54 demo. It’s the first win for “World News” in the younger demo in more than 6 years.

ABC News President James Goldston, who assembled the gathering, congratulated Sawyer as the first female evening news anchor to win a sweeps month and called the win a proud moment for Sawyer, show EP Michael Corn and everyone in the news division.

Sawyer then made some remarks, thanking Goldston and his predecessor Disney ABC TV group president Ben Sherwood, her team and all of ABC News for their dedication and hard work. She joked that she doesn’t follow the ratings closely, but that she can always tell how the show did by the look on Corn’s face every Tuesday morning when the ratings come in. After remarks from Corn, Walters appeared from the audience, and joked that she came out of retirement for the celebration. Walters was of co-anchor of “ABC Evening News” from 1976-1978.

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