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Posts Tagged ‘Robert Thompson’

Beyond Twitter, Where Keith Olbermann Could Land

Phil Griffin & Keith Olbermann at Countdown's 5th anniversary party in 2008.

Whither goest Keith Olbermann?

Though his separation agreement with MSNBC keeps Olbermann off TV for at least six months, it hasn’t stopped rampant speculation about the irascible ‘Countdown’ anchor’s next field of battle place of employment.

Given his nuclear departures from ESPN, Fox Sports and MSNBC (twice), Olbermann’s choices may be limited. Regardless, one popular scenario making the rounds has him going to HBO, where he would create a weekly show to be paired with Bill Maher’s ‘Real Time.’

Premium cable — virgin territory for Olbermann — could end up being the perfect fit for the self-righteous leftie. His politics are compatible with those of Maher, albeit louder, taller and far less subtle.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if he [Olbermann] lands at HBO for 2012,” says fellow MSNBC exile David Shuster in an email. “He and Bill Maher would be an interesting combination. I would definitely watch, though I already watch Maher to begin with.”

Robert Thompson of Syracuse University’s Center for the Study of Popular Television, who describes Olbermann’s style as “news journalism in the jazz idiom,” is equally intrigued by the possibility of a tandem with Maher on HBO.

“It’s definitely do-able,” Thompson says. “HBO already has the model and slot to put him in. Olbermann might find it a relief to be on only once a week. And because HBO is not a news network, he wouldn’t always have to be ‘making a statement.’”

Also, with no pesky constraints on language, Olbermann’s “Special Comments” could spin into postal territory. It’s a location he visits frequently with management. To put it another

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Football Head Injuries to Get the Dr. Sanjay Gupta Treatment on CNN

The following post is from TVNewser co-editor Molly Stark Dean.

CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta anchors a three-part series on the topic of head injuries in football, which will be airing Monday through Wednesday on American Morning.” The first segment, airing on Monday, features former quarterback Kurt Warner and former linebacker and coach Jack Pardee. Pardee is participating in a University of North Carolina study involving dementia among former football players.

“I played 15 years in the NFL, and they would allude to you getting your bell rung, and the trainer would check you out and ask if you knew your name and where you were,” the former linebacker said to the Houston Chronicle. “And if you could answer, you were ready to go back in the game.”

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What David Westin’s ABC Departure says about the Future of TV News

In the wake of David Westin‘s announcement this week that he’s stepping down after 13 years as president of ABC News, networks should initiate informal five-year term limits on news division chiefs.

Heyward_9.8.jpgSo says Andrew Heyward, (left) president of CBS News from 1996 to 2005.

“If the media continues to evolve and change at anything like the pace it has, you need a regular infusion of new ideas and new leadership,” says Heyward, a media consultant whose clients have included NBC News.

“These are very demanding jobs,” he says. “They’ve become incredibly complex in the last 10 years. The pressures have been building since the ’80s. They aren’t the statesmanlike positions they were when network news was invented.”

In Heyward’s view, the perfect candidate for ABC “would balance reverence for what is … valuable about network news with a willingness to consider pretty radical change. That’s more likely to happen with somebody who hasn’t been there for a decade or so.”

By Heyward’s yardstick, NBC’s Steve Capus and CBS’s Sean McManus would both be lame ducks. And the late, great Roone Arledge, who ruled ABC from 1977 to ’98, would have exploded the metric.

Lone exception to Heyward’s rule: Fox News top gun Roger Ailes, whom he says will remain in office “for at least 100 years.” (FYI: Heyward says he has never consulted for Fox.)

While some experts say Westin’s departure signals Disney intention to get out of the network-TV business, others insist it’s too early to tell.

“It’s not necessarily a sea change, but the world of mass-media journalism is changing so rapidly, people [including the media] are desperate to explain what the changes mean,” says network-news analyst Andrew Tyndall.

Thus far, according to Tyndall, “This is a trend piece masquerading as a news story.”

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The New Yorker Weighs In On CNN

SpitzerParker_6.23.jpg The New Yorker has tackled CNN’s primetime woes… fashionably late, it seems.

Nancy Franklin discusses the new 8 p.m. program, which will be hosted by Eliot Spitzer and Kathleen Parker, as well as the the presumed successor to Larry King at 9 p.m., Piers Morgan. She also discusses CNN’s problems more broadly:

CNN is now perceived to be a loser, not just quantitatively but qualitatively, overshadowed by two loudmouth networks, one partisan by calculation, the other by imitation. CNN has tried to carry on as a genuine news outlet, but something’s not working…

When I asked [CNN US President Jon Klein] whether he had any reservations about Spitzer’s character, or worried that significant numbers of viewers (such as this one) thought of him as noxious and, on principle, unwatchable, he didn’t answer directly, saying, “As soon as we see the actual show”-it will debut in early October-”viewers will find out that it’s the kind of show that cable has been missing.”

But what cable has been missing, many argue, is committed, enterprising reporting, except when there’s a war or a natural disaster.

Franklin also spoke to former CNN chief Reese Schonfeld, who has been quite critical of the network’s current strategy, as well as Robert Thompson from Syracuse University about the 8 p.m. program:

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Sam Donaldson: “What Are These Young Kids Like Brit Hume Stepping Down For?”

hume_10-29.jpgAs FNC anchor Brit Hume approaches his impending retirement, one of his former colleagues is hoping he reconsiders. “What are these young kids like Brit Hume stepping down for?” asks ABC’s Sam Donaldson in a Hume profile by Politico’s Michael Calderone. “I think Brit’s at the height of his power.”

He also made a pitch to bring Hume to ABC, saying if he were president of the network, he’d tell Hume, “I understand that you want to step down and all of this. Could we talk about your future?”

Also in the piece, one of the longtime panelists of Hume’s show “Special Report,” Juan Williams, describes the anchor. “That guy brings out the best in my game,” Williams said. “If you’re debating Brit Hume, you better know what you’re talking about. He can be sharp, even arrogant, and angry. If you don’t have your feet on the ground, you’re going to get your ass handed to you.”

While Hume exits FNC full-time after the election, some have questioned whether the election will affect FNC’s dominance in the ratings. The Houston Chronicle’s David Barron talks to VP of news editorial Jay Wallace and Bill Hemmer about the issue.

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