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The “Cruel Irony” That Might Await Nightline, As Leno Admits “I Am Definitely Done With NBC”

1Bashir_McF_7.17.jpgThe Hollywood Reporter’s Paul J. Gough talks with ABC News president David Westin as well as Nightline co-anchors Cynthia McFadden and Martin Bashir and EP James Goldston as the program once again finds itself under the microscope.

“Nightline” stands as one of the brighter lights in TV journalism, a daily newsmagazine that both serves as a last word on the news and has its own sometimes serious, sometimes quirky take. “Nightline” also has played a large role in making ABC competitive in late-night for the first time, and its pairing with “Jimmy Kimmel Live” has worked so well that ABC recently extended Kimmel’s deal through 2010. But with [Jay] Leno on his way out of “The Tonight Show,” there’s a chance that “Nightline” might be axed if ABC and parent company Disney decide to go after Leno. It would be a cruel irony for a program that has managed not only to keep its journalistic integrity intact but done everything that it’s been asked to do and more ratings-wise.

Says Westin, Nightline is “showing that it’s fully competitive with the entertainment programs, and that’s something that I don’t think anyone would have expected.”

And Bashir: “If (network executives) decide in their wisdom that it’s over, that’s their decision. But they will have made the decision from a position of our strength, not our weakness.”

Related, Jay Leno: “I am definitely done next year — with NBC.” (USA Today)

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