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Posts Tagged ‘Neal Shapiro’

‘Primetime LIVE!’ 25 Years Later


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!”

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Juju Chang Named Anchor of ‘Nightline’

abc_juju_chang_090116_mainAs Cynthia McFadden packs for NBC, ABC is wasting no time in announcing her replacement at “Nightline.” ABC lifer Juju Chang has been named co-anchor of the ABC News broadcast effective immediately.

“Juju is the perfect example of someone whose dedication and tenacity to innovative reporting have paved the way for her success,” ABC/Disney co-president Ben Sherwood writes in a note to staff.

Chang, who has been with ABC News her entire career, starting as a desk assistant, is married to former NBC News boss Neal Shapiro, now president of WNET.

McFadden was one of the original anchors when “Nightline” went to a 3-anchor format in 2005, along with Martin Bashir and Terry Moran. Bashir left for MSNBC in 2010, replaced by Bill Weir. Last year, Dan Abrams replaced Moran who is now a foreign correspondent for ABC News. And when Weir left for CNN in October, Dan Harris took his spot.

In his note, Sherwood thanked McFadden for her 20 years of service. “Cynthia has been an amazing colleague, a loyal mentor to so many of our up and coming producers and I am personally grateful for her profound contributions to ABC News. It is with great fondness that I wish Cynthia the very best in her new adventure.”

Sherwood’s note after the jump…

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‘Today’ Execs Tried to ‘Nudge Curry Off the Co-Host Track’ as Early as 2003

The first excerpts of Brian Stelter‘s upcoming book Top of the Morning, went online this morning, and will be featured in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, ahead of Tuesday’s publication. This excerpt takes a deep dive into the “dysfunction” at “Today” that led to Ann Curry‘s forced departure from the show last June. Curry was named the show’s co-host in 2011, but discussions about moving her off the show were happening long before, something Stelter told us in our Media Beat interview (running next week on TVNewser). As far back as 2003, Stelter writes, “executives were already trying to nudge Curry off the co-host track:”

They saw that she and Lauer, who had hosted together dozens of times, demonstrated a distinct lack of chemistry. “I don’t think anybody back then thought Ann was right,” said Tom Touchet, the executive producer of “Today” at the time, who called her a “wacky chick” with a “great heart.” Neal Shapiro, who succeeded Lack as president of NBC News, suggested that Curry be moved to “Dateline NBC,” the prime-time newsmagazine. “The audience would understand moving to prime time was a great promotion, and there would be no backlash against ‘Today,’’” Shapiro recalled. “By making her a host of ‘Dateline,’ we could open up the news-anchor job on ‘Today’ to someone like Natalie Morales or Hoda Kotb” and start publicly grooming another successor for Couric.

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Howard Stringer, Jeff Zucker Among Those Considered For Top CNN Post

CNN is still actively searching for its new worldwide president, who will replace Jim Walton when he steps down at the end of the year. As we have noted before, former “Today” EP and NBC universal CEO Jeff Zucker is one of the names being considered. The New York Post‘s Claire Atkinson has a few more today.

Among them: former CBS News president and Sony CEO Sir Howard Stringer (pictured right), former NBC news president and current WNYC CEO Neal Shapiro and former ABC News chief David Westin.

“We should know something in a month, perhaps before the elections,” said one CNN insider. “Unlike CNN International, we just don’t have someone with a mission.

“We need our Roger Ailes,” the source said, referring to the chief of Fox News, which toppled ratings leader CNN years ago and has since widened its lead.

Time Warner execs are also getting help internally. Sources say HBO boss Richard Plepler is playing a key role in advising Bewkes.

A Tribute to Ann Curry, and a Rap From Lester Holt, at ‘Dateline’ 20th Anniversary Celebration

NBC News threw a party last night, celebrating the 20th anniversary of its primetime newsmagazine “Dateline.”

While the mood was celebratory, it was hard to escape the elephant in the room. In an address to guests at the event, senior EP David Corvo paid tribute to a number of former “Dateline” staffers, including former anchor Ann Curry who bid farewell to the “Today” show earlier in the day.

“Ann had her own sweet, persistent way of coming into my office, day after day, trying to push us to do certain types of stories that we weren’t doing,” Corvo said. “Her legacy probably on the show more than anything else is ‘America Now,’ which has gotten a lot of awards, was fun to produce and made a difference in some people’s lives, which is what Ann is dedicated to.”

Dateline EP Liz Cole likened the party to a “family reunion,” and it did feel that way. TVNewser spotted Hoda Kotb (who at one point danced in the DJ booth), correspondents Chris Hansen, and Keith Morrison, original anchor Jane Pauley (but not Stone Phillips) and former “Dateline” correspondent and current Fox News anchor Jon Scott. The event, held at Catch in New York’s Meatpacking District, was the second 20th anniversary party for the series in less than a year (see our report from the first one, here). Former NBC News president and “Dateline” EP Neal Shapiro was there, as was current NBC News chief Steve Capus, who praised the program:

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Bloomberg’s Andy Lack: ‘Today I don’t think people even talk about traditional television anymore’

Bloomberg Media Group CEO Andy Lack gets profiled by The Bostonian. The magazine digs into Lack’s vision for Bloomberg, as well as his past at NBC News. Lack is bullish on the future of journalism, particularly at his company, noting that it has more worldwide bureaus than all the TV news networks combined, and more reporters than the Wall Street Journal and New York Times combined:

“The essential values and principles that inform the craft of journalism are harder and harder to protect,” Lack says. “The world is more competitive. The digital age places new challenges on old media and the network news organizations that I grew up in. There used to be news organizations that made a few programs a day, and they were predictable. One was at 6:30 in the evening, one at 7 o’clock in the morning, and one famous one on CBS on Sunday evenings. Today we have not only a 24-hour news business, but a global 24-hour news business that is broken down into minutes, not days and hours. Today I don’t think people even talk about traditional television anymore. It’s about video circulating around the planet in many different media and formats. It goes online and it goes to your iPad or smartphone. At Bloomberg, it’s everywhere.”

The magazine speaks to some of Lack’s former colleagues, including ex-NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker and Neal Shapiro, the former head of NBC News and now CEO of

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Life at Home with Juju Chang and Neal Shapiro

Former NBC News president and current president of public media powerhouse Neal Shapiro is the subject of the “Sunday Routine” in this weekend’s New York Times. Shapiro is married to ABC News “Good Morning America” news anchor Juju Chang.

As is usually the case with the profiles, the focus is on the Sunday leisure activites, but there are a few interesting tidbits for TV news addicts:

DID JUJU CONVERT? She converted when we got married. Now she’s twice as Jewish as I am.

PREPPING FOR THE WEEK All of us have a little Sunday night anxiety, the Sunday night blues where you’re already getting ready for Monday. My wife has to get up at 4 a.m., so before she goes to bed, we discuss the week, juggling the nanny, breakfast meetings, making sure we have full coverage for the kids, and figuring out when we’re going to see each other.

Juju Chang Takes the Field with A-Rod

!Living-the-Dream-Main_5-2.jpgAs a part of May sweeps, ABC’s “Good Morning America” anchor team got to choose different “dreams” to live out on the air this week. George Stephanopoulos plays poker with some pros. Robin Roberts takes flight with Captain Sully. Sam Champion visits a manatee sanctuary. Bill Weir jumps out of planes and hot air balloons.

“This is not about our real dreams, like peace on earth or a cure for cancer,” Juju Chang tells TVNewser. “We just chose something meaningful and personal to us. And I think that’s reflected.”

“George and I have joined this anchor team,” Chang says. “It was a quiet transition. We wanted it that way. So this was our first chance to do a series where we showed our personality and the things we care about.”

Chang says her segment, which airs today, was “very very personal.” She got to play baseball with the New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez.

The love for baseball and the Yankees goes beyond the norm for Chang, her husband, and her three sons. She’s been going to spring training back well into the days the Yankees played in Fort Lauderdale. (Her fanatic husband, whom she describes as “an overgrown kid,” is WNET President and former NBC News president Neal Shapiro.)

“I know people love hating the Yankees,” she says. “But for our family, the Yankees are like religion.” And they don’t just watch. They play too. She tells us she gets a lot of grief from the fam because she can’t pitch. “They say I ‘let up too many hits’ or I’ve ‘beaned my kids.’”

Of her time on the field, Chang says they had a great time, but added, “It wasn’t just baseball, I was also able to hint at life lessons to my kids.” And the coach? She said A-Rod was “sweet and charming and nice and totally patient with my boys.”

Chang tells TVNewser likes the bombers chances this year, but admits she’s “the eternal optimist.” “I think they look good, A-Rod especially,” Chang says. “They have that momentum.”

Stephanopoulos and Roberts spoke with the AP’s David Bauder about their wish fulfillment, with Stephanopoulos saying, “It’s been a good time to start [with some fun] because there’s so much going on.”


Final ‘Worldfocus’ Broadcast Tonight

worldfocus_4-2.jpgTonight, WNET’s international news program “Worldfocus” will see its final broadcast on PBS stations across the country. As first reported by TVNewser, the program was canceled last month for financial reasons.

A WNET spokesperson tells TVNewser that 359 public television channels were carrying “Worldfocus” (85% of US households) and that many of those stations who don’t already carry it will likely look at “BBC World News” to fill that half-hour international news slot.

When it debuted, “Worldfocus” had, for some stations, replaced “BBC World News” (which is not to be confused with “BBC World News America,” the newscast airing on BBC America).

PBS stations in the New York area will be among those to make the switch to “BBC World News.” In a note to staff obtained by TVNewser, President and CEO of WNET.ORG Neal Shapiro writes this week: “While we’re disappointed that we couldn’t keep Worldfocus in production, we haven’t lost sight of our commitment to providing high-caliber international news and analysis to our community.” Full note after the jump.

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‘Worldfocus’ Ending Run

worldfocus_3-5.jpgBreaking: TVNewser has learned that the public television newscast “Worldfocus” is being canceled. Staffers were informed of the news by Neal Shapiro, President and CEO of WNET.ORG, at 3pm this afternoon.

The program is the latest victim of a tough economy.

“We demonstrated that there is a demand for international news but we had the misfortune of launching a brand new program into the teeth of the recession,” Shapiro said in a statement. Shapiro said that the organization had raised significant funds, but was a a few million dollars short of what was needed, long-term. “Given the economic environment we now face, it is not prudent to continue the broadcast at this time. It is not an easy decision but it is the right decision.”

A spokesperson tells us WNET is working to find other positions for the “Worldfocus” staff within the organization. WNET was already preparing to launch a new, multi-platform PBS series, “Need to Know” in May.

“Worldfocus” launched on October 6, 2008, and was first anchored by Martin Savidge, then Daljit Dhaliwal. It is produced by WNET in New York. The final broadcast will be April 2nd.

More: Statement from Shapiro and press release after the jump.

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