Former ESPN programming executive and Dick Clark Productions CEO Mark Shapiro has emerged as one of the contenders for the top job at CNN, a source in the agent community confirmed to TVNewser. The news was first reported by the well-sourced Joe Flint in the Los Angeles Times.

Shapiro was a powerful programming executive at ESPN, and helped launch what became ESPN’s top original program ”Pardon The Interruption.” He also was the man responsible for putting conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh on the “NFL Countdown” pregame show. He joined Dick Clark Productions as CEO in May, 2010, and left earlier this year when the company was sold to Guggenheim Partners. Dick Clark Productions specializes in producing live event programming, like “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve,” The Golden Globe Awards and the American music Awards.

As Flint notes, Shapiro does not have a background in “hard news,”

However, Shapiro has strong production chops from his days at ESPN, which has its own large news division. He is seen as an innovative executive unafraid to take chances. He also is known for having sharp elbows and for being confrontational at times with talent and other executives.

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