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Posts Tagged ‘Ben Sherwood’

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.

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‘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.

Barbara Walters Farewell: ‘True, I Was the First Female Co-Host… But Also True, I Was a Flop’

WaltersSawyerIt was a star-studded farewell for Barbara Walters at New York City’s Four Seasons restaurant tonight. From comedian Joan Rivers to commissioner Bill Bratton; from New York’s chronicler of scandal, Cindy Adams, to the man who plays the president on “Scandal,” Tony Goldwyn; from actor Woody Allen to attorney David Boies, But mostly, the pool room was packed with Walters’ fellow TV news colleagues and those ladies — past and present — from “The View.” Whoopi Goldberg and Sherri Shepherd; Meredith Vieira and Joy Behar.

Following a best of Barbara video, Disney Chairman Bob Iger welcomed the crowd, before Walters delivered a few words of thanks and admitting it hasn’t always been easy. “True, I was the first female co-host of a network news program. But also true, I was a flop. My male co-host didn’t want a partner and neither did the audience. I was drowning, gasping for air. Then someone threw me that life preserver called Specials with the biggest stars in news and show business and I learned how to swim again.”

Current and former evening news anchors were there, including Diane Sawyer and Brian Williams who arrived with Tom Brokaw, Katie Couric and fiancé John Molner; and Connie Chung (who was part of an ill-fated co-anchor pairing with Dan Rather) and husband Maury Povich. We caught up with early risers Savannah Guthrie and George Stephanopoulos along with their spouses, Mike Feldman, and Ali Wentworth, respectively, as they were heading out. Guthrie’s “Today” colleague Al Roker and his wife, ABC correspondent Deborah Roberts made the rounds as well.

Walters continued: “I’m grateful to the legendary Roone Arledge for bringing me to ABC News; thankful to David Westin for his steady leadership; to Ben Sherwood – you made us all believe we could win and with your leadership and passion, we did; and James Goldston – I’m told that all our shows are number one at the moment – you should quit right now.” Sherwood, Goldston and Westin were all on hand, as were other ABC News executives including Barbara Fedida, David Sloan, Jeanmarie Condon and John Green.

We spotted Jenny McCarthy hand-in-hand with fiance Donnie Wahlberg; the “Nightline” team of Juju ChangDan Abrams, and Dan Harris as well as a host of correspondents and anchors from ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC and Fox, including Elizabeth VargasAmy RobachDavid MuirNorah O’DonnellJon KarlGio Benitez, Dr. Richard Besser, Tory JohnsonRick Klein, Brian Ross, Mara Schiavocampo, Thomas RobertsAlicia MenendezHoda Kotb, Greta Van Susteren and Lisa Ling, a former “View” co-host, now woking on a new show for CNN.

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Barbara Walters on ‘Paving the Way’ for Women: ‘That’s My Legacy’

DIANE SAWYER, BARBARA WALTERS and ROBIN ROBERTSIt was a celebratory atmosphere tonight at ABC News Headquarters when the network’s Upper West Side New York City building was officially renamed the “Barbara Walters Building.”

“It’s not the interviews with presidents, nor heads of state, nor celebrities, nor even the Sterlings,” Walters said about her career legacy. “I hope that I played a small role in paving the way for so many of you fabulous women who are here tonight,” she continued, adding how pleased she is when women approach her about their achievements. “That’s my legacy” she said to a rousing applause.

Standing beside many ABC News colleagues, including Diane Sawyer, Robin Roberts, George Stephanopoulos, and Lara Spencer; along with Walt Disney Company Chairman Bob Iger, Disney/ABC TV President Ben Sherwood, and ABC News President James Goldston, Walters joked about having a building named after her in a city where Kennedy Airport and the Lincoln Tunnel reside: ”It may not be a landmark, but a couple of pigeons have already staked it out.”

“It makes me feel wonderful,” Walters told TVNewser after the ceremony in response to taglines that say, “she didn’t just report history, she made history.”

“The fact that my career turned out this way, it’s still an amazement to me,” she told us, highlighting her start as a writer at NBC’s “Today” which wasn’t clamoring to “put me on [air].” When she started out in the business, there “were almost none [women in TV news],” Walters told us.

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Barbara Walters: ‘My Whole Being in Front of the Camera is Such an Amazing Accident’

walters304x200As she prepares for her final week as co-host of “The View,” Barbara Walters reflects on her career in a Vanity Fair profile. Walters says her success has been a result of “an amazing accident” — finding herself in front of the camera after she was first hired as a temporary writer for the “Today” show in 1961 — and a lot of hard work:

Walters has traveled to the far corners of the earth for absurdly short lengths of time—three two-day stints in China, a one-day visit to Australia. Before cell phones, she would sit all day in a foreign hotel room, waiting to hear if an interview was going to happen. In preparation for a particular interview, she generated dozens of questions and wrote them on index cards, continuing to revise until the second filming started. “People sometimes say to me, ‘Who writes your questions?’ ” Walters told me. “And I think, Who writes my questions? I write my own stuff, and I can write the way I talk.”

[Disney/ABC Television group president Ben] Sherwood, of Walters’s trip to Syria to interview Assad, said, “This woman prepares and prepares and prepares. All the way from here to Damascus, and then all the way to the presidential palace, and all the way into the presidential palace, through the layers of security, and then all the way into the room where she was interviewing Assad, I can tell you that she was working and reworking and reworking those questions. For all of us on this side who know what it takes to get the Most Fascinating [People] on, or an Oscar special, or a big interview, it’s an incredible amount of work and she is always there. She is the one who puts her hand up and says, ‘I’ll come in at two in the morning, if you need me to update the West Coast on that piece I did.’ ”

ABC Toasts Robin Roberts at a Book Party For ‘Everybody’s Got Something’

A crowd of television personalities and executives gathered at George Stephanopoulos and Ali Wentworth‘s apartment last night to celebrate “Good Morning America” anchor Robin Roberts, whose memoir, “Everybody’s Got Something,” was released today.

The memoir is Roberts’ firsthand account of her MDS diagnosis and treatment. Roberts told TVNewser she began to write the book after her return to “GMA,” using entries from the journal she kept during her recovery. When we asked if the writing process was cathartic, Roberts said the real satisfaction came when she re-read the story and realized “how strong and healthy I am.”

On hand to celebrate the book’s launch from ABC: Disney/ABC Television Group president Ben Sherwood, ABC News president James Goldston, vice president of business development Susan Mercandetti, senior vice president for talent Barbara Fedida, Barbara Walters, Diane Sawyer, David Muir, Dan Abrams, Lara Spencer, Ginger Zee, Michael Strahan, Charlie Gibson and Deborah Roberts. CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter and “CBS This Morning” co-host Gayle King were also in attendance.

Roberts tweeted a selfie with Spencer and Zee: “These three are gonna be a wee bit tired in the morning,” she wrote. Read more

Center for Public Integrity Responds: ‘Unfortunate PR Campaign by ABC News’

publici-icon-300x300The war of words between ABC News and The Center for Public Integrity is heating up.

CPI’s executive director Bill Buzenberg doesn’t mince words responding to ABC News President Ben Sherwood‘s request that the two organizations share CPI’s Pulitzer Prize.

“Thank you for your letter of last night regarding the black lung investigation, which was also sent to our full Board of Directors and the news media. I have to assume this is all part of an unfortunate PR campaign by ABC News,” Buzenberg writes.

He adds that ABC News joined the coal-mining industry investigation–one that resulted in Johns Hopkins shuttering their black-lung program, and congressional action–halfway through, and produced “sporadic” reporting geared toward TV, not print.

“Not true,” ABC SVP for Communications Jeffrey Schneider responds to TVNewser. “We were invited to join this investigation by the former executive director at the outset, which was October 2012.”

Schneider adds examples of joint reporting: “Many of our stories on ABC.com are bylined by Chris [Hamby], although he didn’t write them. Many of our on-air reports list him as a producer, even though he didn’t shoot anything, conduct on-camera interviews, or spend a moment in the editing booth.”

“ABC was a wonderful coalition partner, and did great television, but the Pulitzer Prize is specifically for print and digital companies,” Buzenberg tells TVNewser. “It’s not a TV award. They didn’t write the 2500-word story, written entirely by Chris Hamby.”

Buzenberg also included a response from Pulitzer Administrator Sig Gissler.

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ABC News Asking Center for Public Integrity to Share Pulitzer Prize

ABC-News-Logo-1ABC News is calling on the Center for Public Integrity to share their Pulitzer Prize for investigative journalism, awarded to CPI’s Chris Hamby, taking issue with CPI’s Pulitzer submission that depicts ABC News as a minor partner in a year-long coal-mining industry investigation instead of equal partners.

“You seem to be determined that ABC was simply a megaphone for Chris Hamby’s work,” ABC President Ben Sherwood wrote in a four-page letter to CPI executive director William Buzenberg yesterday, adding that in CPI’s submission, they “omitted the names of ABC News reporters and sought to parse and diminish their contributions.”

Buzenberg isn’t conceding: “ABC is seeking to take credit for a large body of work that it did not produce,” he said in a draft response to Sherwood, POLITICO reports.

“That is a lie, that is an absolute lie,” ABC News SVP for Communications Jeffrey Schneider tells TVNewser in response to Buzenberg. “We take great exception to the CPI submission that diminished our work almost to the point of nonexistence, and took complete credit for this joint investigation which had so much impact,” Schneider continued.

The investigation placing ABC and CPI at odds exposed doctors and lawyers conspiring with the coal industry to deny sick miners their black-lung medical benefits. The report caused the famed Johns Hopkins Hospital to suspend its black-lung program; Congress also sought to craft legislation to help sick miners.

“We believe that Chris Hamby deserves a Pulitzer Prize for his work,” Schneider added. “What we take great exception to is Bill Buzenberg suggesting ABC had little to do with this reporting. We were invited to take part in this work before he was named executive director at CPI.”

The two organizations have recently shared awards on the coal-mining industry story. Last month, the Harvard Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting was awarded to reporters from both news outlets; next month the White House Correspondents Association will also honor both.

Sherwood’s full letter to CPI’s executive director after the jump.

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