Zahn To Leave CNN
By Marisa Guthrie -- Broadcasting & Cable, 7/24/2007 11:43:00 AM
Paula Zahn confirmed Tuesday that she will leave CNN next week.
Zahn’s transition out of CNN was not a quiet one. She soldiered on while rumors circulated that her bosses were looking to replace her ratings-challenged 8 p.m. news show Paula Zahn Now.
On Monday, CNN confirmed a deal with former Weekend Today anchor Campbell Brown to front a new 8 p.m. interview show.
Zahn's last day on the air at CNN will be August 2.
“I’ve been in the business long enough to know that if you allow yourself to be drowned by the noise you’re not going to put on a very good television show,” said Zahn during a phone interview on Tuesday.
“Was it pleasant for everybody on my staff and me to go through? Absolutely not.”
Zahn said discussions with Jon Klein, president of CNN/U.S., about her future at the network began “months ago.”
In the end, she added, “we decided to pursue separate paths. And I think that was the right decision. It truly was a mutual decision.”
Her contract – which CNN will honor, according to sources – does not expire until the end of the year after which she is free to appear on a competing network.
Zahn said she is “looking at a number of different (television) opportunities,” but will “resist jumping into anything right away.”
Brown officially starts at CNN September 1, but the terms of her exit agreement with NBC preclude her from appearing on the air until November. (She is expecting her first child with husband Dan Senor, a Fox News analyst, in December.) CNN will employ a series of substitute hosts until Brown’s debut.
Zahn’s first day on the air at CNN came the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, six months ahead of her proposed start date. She moved from mornings to primetime in 2003 and eventually found herself in the unenviable position of competing against opinionated male hosts: MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann and Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, who dominates the 8 p.m. hour.
“The competition at 8 o'clock is the hardest in all of TV,” she said. “That’s something we had to confront day in and day out. But I’m proud of the work we did.”
Her recent series of town hall meetings about race in America was honored with a “best practice” award from the National Association of Black Journalists.
She’ll host a 10-part PBS series on cancer this fall.
Talk about that all-time treasured 8 o''clock time slot on CNN...a former CNN''er, Greta Van Susteren, I know, would like the 8 p.m. time slot that Bill O''Reilly guards like Fort Knox because of his ratings for Fox.
At the best of times, O''Reilly is obnoxious and his rabid fans, lap it up. 8 o''clock would be easier for me to watch Greta than 10 o''clock, however, the powers-that-be at Fox, are highly unlikely to put the Conservative blowhard elsewhere and give Greta his time slot.
Carol Nye - 7/26/2007 8:24:00 PM EDT
Paula, I'm sorry you're leaving CNN. I knew from reading mediabistro.com earlier this week that when it was announced that Campbell Brown was hired by CNN just after leaving NBC and...being put in the 8 o'clock time slot...that something was going on. As much as I like and watch CNN, it's become an overworked revolving door. I like you but didn't care for Paula Zahn Now's format. I like a one-subject hour rather than several independent segments. I know ratings are what drives a cable channel network plus commercial revenue....I agree with CNN's logo desite CNN always lagging behind Fox News Channel. Wish just once that CNN would come out ahead of Fox. Just once!
You're not the first to resign...other's contracts haven't been renewed. I really was fond of Daryn Kagan and she too was let go. Carol Costello went from American Morning to The Situation Room as did Jack Cafferty.
I hope whatever you do, you find peace of mind and success and....time to take a break and rest and enjoy your new relationship.
Carol Mariane Nye - 7/26/2007 8:16:00 PM EDT
To Paula I say "the very best for a productive future in your field of interest-- "broadcasting."
Working in televion whether it be on cable or on a network channel is challenging and unpredictable, given the levels of competition out there. On CNN she was sandwiched between two programs with asbsolutely loyal fans. Not to mention the "Culture Warrior" over there at Fox News Channel.
We still need to see a good mix of men and women as hosts, so good luck to Paula on her next gig and congratulations to Campbell Brown!!
Verna Smith - 7/25/2007 2:25:00 PM EDT
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