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Posts Tagged ‘Ben Sherwood’

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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The Hollywood Reporter’s Annual ’35 Most Powerful People in New York Media’

Television news executives and personalities are well represented on The Hollywood Reporter‘s annual “35 Most Powerful People in New York Media” list.

From the executive ranks: CBS News chairman Jeff Fager and president David Rhodes; NBC News chairman Pat Fili-Krushel and president Deborah Turness; and incoming Disney/ABC Television group president Ben Sherwood and ABC News president James Goldston represent the broadcast networks. On the cable side, Fox News chairman Roger Ailes, MSNBC president Phil Griffin, CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker and Bloomberg Media Group CEO Justin Smith make the list.

The main anchors for the broadcast networks — Brian Williams, Diane Sawyer and Scott Pelley — are all on the list, as well as morning anchors from each network. For NBC, it’s Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie and Willie Geist; Charlie Rose, Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell represent CBS; and for ABC, Robin Roberts, George Stephanopoulos and Lara Spencer. “Good Morning America” senior executive producer Tom Cibrowski and “CBS Sunday Morning” EP Rand Morrison are also named.

As for cable news talent, all three Fox News primetime hosts — Bill O’Reilly, Megyn Kelly and Sean Hannity — make the list. From MSNBC, Rachel Maddow, Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough; and from CNN, Anderson Cooper.

Other notable additions: Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart, Jimmy Fallon, Bob Costas, Michael Strahan and Kelly Ripa.

TVNewser will be at the party celebrating the honorees tonight.

[Images via Hollywood Reporter]

After a Quick Transition, James Goldston Gets Down to Work at ABC News

GoldstonSherwood Ben Sherwood, recently named co-president of the Disney/ABC TV Group, handed the ABC News reins to James Goldston this morning, calling him the “brilliant architect” of some of the most successful ABC News shows of the last decade.

Goldston, (near right) a London native, joined ABC News in 2004. He took “Nightline” to new heights in late night and later helped take “Good Morning America” to No. 1 in the mornings. Sherwood’s mantra to the 1,000 global staffers of ABC News has been consistent: PYG, or Play Your Game.

“The secret,” says Sherwood, “is that the game that we’ve played for the last three years is the game that we devised as a team: ["GMA" senior EP] Tom Cibrowski and James and I, with the great anchors there and the staff. And [EP] Michael Corn and the whole staff at ‘World News.’”

“The key is the consistency of the approach,” says Sherwood. “And I know that James has more plans up his sleeve.” TVNewser chatted with Sherwood and Goldston about the challenges ahead as both take on new roles:

TVNewser: First, congratulations to you both. James, what’s the first order of business?

Goldston: We’re going to work out a transition period. I’ve worked very closely with Ben these last three years. I’m going to be talking to the team a lot in the days and weeks ahead. Ben has been a fantastic, inspirational figure in the news division and I still have much to learn from him.

TVNewser: Ben, how much do you think you’ll be in New York in the coming weeks or months as you transition to your new job?

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James Goldston Named President of ABC News

GoldstonJames Goldston is the new president of ABC News. Goldston and his predecessor Ben Sherwood, who was named co-president of Disney/ABC TV two weeks ago, just broke the news to ABC News staffers on the fifth floor at ABC’s New York headquarters, to applause, insiders tell us.

For the last two years, Goldston has been Senior Vice President at the news division of the ABC network.

Goldston joined ABC News in 2004 from Britain’s ITV. Following a stint as Senior Producer of primetime specials and investigations, he was promoted to Executive Producer of “Nightline,” a position he held until 2011. Goldston then joined “Good Morning America” as Senior EP as the show gained on, and eventually overtook NBC’s “Today” as the most-watched morning show.

Sherwood will assist with the transition over the next couple of weeks, before devoting his attention to his new job as co-president of Disney/ABC TV. He’ll fully take over the top job at the ABC network when Anne Sweeney steps down early next year.

Insiders tell us Sherwood started the 9am editorial meeting, attended by staffers around the world, before giving up his seat, literally, to Goldston, who praised Sherwood for having “big dreams.” Also on the editorial call, Goldston’s parents who phoned in from England. Goldston thanked them for sacrificing so much to allow him to be the first person on either side of his family to graduate from college — Jesus College at Oxford, no less.

With Goldston’s appointment, two of the heads of the big three American broadcast news divisions are British. NBC News president Deborah Turness, also an ITV alum, is from Hertfordshire, north of London.

The full news release, after the jump…

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Lunch with Lara Spencer & Amy Robach: Rumors, Ratings & the Revolving Door

"GMA" anchors Amy Robach and Lara Spencer show off their manicures April 1. (via @laraspencer)

“Good Morning America” anchors Amy Robach and Lara Spencer show off their manicures on the show April 1. (via @laraspencer)

It has been a busy few months at “Good Morning America.” Since December, Sam Champion and Josh Elliott have departed, Ginger Zee and Amy Robach have joined the team and Robin Roberts and Lara Spencer have extended their contracts with ABC News. Through it all, “GMA” remains steadfast in the ratings, despite the fact that both Champion and Elliott — “our brothers,” as Spencer calls them — have decamped for NBC.

As “GMA” prepares to mark two years as the most-watched morning show, TVNewser caught up with Spencer and Robach over lunch at Bobby Flay‘s Bar Americain Tuesday. They told us about their new roles on the show, how the team is really getting along, and why the “GMA” rumor mill has been in high gear the past few weeks. Before talking shop, we asked Robach, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in October, how she is feeling.

Amy Robach: I am feeling pretty darn good considering where I am in my treatments. I have two more chemotherapy rounds left – my next one is on Thursday. My final one is April 24. And then I have one more surgery in June. I’m going to work every day, and that means a lot to me mentally which I think helps me physically.

My memory is not amazing right now. It’s a little nerve wracking, feeling not mentally sharp all the time, but luckily there’s a teleprompter in front of me, and a good team that picks up any mental malfunctions I may have in the middle of a sentence or a thought.

Lara Spencer:  You haven’t missed a beat. You are radiant and smiling – she’s a rock star. She comes in, she brings her A-game. I haven’t noticed the memory at all. She’s remarkable. She’s being very modest.

TVNewser: Do you feel like you’ve processed your promotion yet? Read more

Josh Elliott Leaves ABC for NBC Sports: ‘No News Role Has Been Discussed’

josh elliottJosh Elliott is joining NBC, not to be the next Matt Lauer, he says, but because he “grew up with a love of sports that is unrivaled.” Elliott was introduced as the newest NBC Sports talent by division chairman Mark Lazarus during a conference call with reporters this afternoon.

“No news role has been discussed with me,” Elliott says, adding, “I hope Matt Lauer is here when I step away from this gig, 30 years down the road. I love being a part of a team and the team I’m on now is a fantastic one.”

Elliott joins NBC Sports after three years at ABC News, as a co-host of “Good Morning America.” He doesn’t know if he’ll be back on “GMA” for a final farewell. “Those sorts of decisions aren’t mine to make,” he says.

“I was really happy to see my teammates wish me so well on Monday morning,” Elliott added. He says he remains “eternally thankful for all the people who helped me along the way. None more so than Ben Sherwood.” Sherwood, still new to his job as president of ABC News, plucked Elliott from ESPN in 2011. A year later, the longtime No. 2 morning show had toppled the “Today” show’s 16-year reign at No. 1.

“Everything I have today I owe to Ben,” Elliott says. “[ABC] put a generous offer on the table. They made this for me, simply, a qualitative choice.”

Not only will his commute get easier, NBC Sports is “a couple exits down I95″ in Stamford, CT, but Elliott will now get to fulfill a childhood dream: “A profound and essential part of my being has always been to be a part of an Olympics broadcast.” That wish will be fulfilled in two years in Rio. His first NBC Sports assignment is the Kentucky Derby next month.

Elliott says his only discussion about working with NBC News has been “ways to provide sports content to them.” Lazarus jumped in, adding, “that’s something I would discuss with NBC News, down the line.”

“I feel like the luckiest man in TV today, because of what has been a wondrous near-decade at Disney and a glorious 3 years at ABC News and ‘GMA,’” said Elliott.

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