Two weeks into the New Year and the news is flying fast and furious. In just the past two days, we’ve learned that Jay Leno is definitely out at 10 p.m., that Sarah Palin is in at Fox News, that Simon Cowell is out of Idol and that Glee will be back for season two (as if there was ever any doubt). And just as I was filing this, B&C Editor Ben Grossman reported on a major shake-up atop Fox.
In the News
Peter Rice (pictured left) is expected to assume greater control over Fox’s entertainment assets, including the cable side, while David Hill will gain greater power on the sports side. According to sources, Fox National Cable Networks President Rich Battista could end up either being reassigned or shown the door. The cable network chiefs, including FX head John Landgraf, would report directly into Rice, while the regional sports networks, including chief Randy Freer, would likely report to Hill. Still being determined is the role of Fox Networks Group Chairman Tony Vinciquerra, a highly-regarded News Corp and industry veteran who championed the successful battle with Time Warner for retransmission consent cash at the end of last year.
Fox today confirmed rumors that American Idol’s most caustic (and most interesting) judge, Simon Cowell, will be leaving the show after this season. He’ll be turning his attentions to other efforts, including launching his Brit hit The X Factor stateside come fall 2011. Cowell will serve as both judge and executive producer on that show.
Former Governor of Alaska and former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin (pictured right) has signed on as a contributor to Fox News Channel. A TV or radio deal for Palin has long been rumored and most observers thought she would likely end up at Fox. She won’t have her own show – at least not until she gets some TV experience under her belt – but she will host occasional specials and appear on various network programs. ”I am thrilled to be joining the great talent and management team at Fox News. It’s wonderful to be part of a place that so values fair and balanced news,” said Palin in a statement released by Fox News. I shouldn’t admit that I can’t wait to hear what Jon Stewart has to say about this, should I?
Deal or No Deal’s Howie Mandel will replace David Hasselhoff as a judge on NBC’s America’s Got Talent this summer. Mandel joins judges Sharon Osbourne and Piers Morgan.
Rob Norman has been named the new CEO of Group M, the U.S.’ largest media management operation. Norman will share management duties with GroupM colleague Rino Scanzoni who is chief investment officer. Marc Goldstein will depart the company at the end of March.
Senator Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) has decided not to seek re-election next year, marking the exit of one of the media’s most vocal critics in Congress.
David Janollari, who developed hit shows such as Supernatural and Beauty and the Geek as The WB’s president of entertainment, has been named EVP of scripted development for MTV.
Former Current COO Mark Goldman has formed Be, an HD lifestyle network dedicated to yoga and wellness.
Veteran British TV executive Grant Mansfield has been named CEO of RDF Media USA, replacing Chris Coelen, who exited in December after four years.
Suzanne Kolb has been promoted to president of marketing, news and online for Comcast’s E! and Style Networks, while Kevin Maclellan has been named president of Comcast International Media Group and Comcast Entertainment Productions.
Troy Ewanchyna has been named VP of digital strategy at Comcast Sports Group, while Jim Pekala has been named VP of business development.
J.D. Sosnoff has been promoted to local sales manager of Tribune’s CW affiliate KPLR St. Louis.
Things keep changing over at CNN.
On the way up: Ali Velshi (pictured left), the network’s chief business correspondent who also deftly anchored the network’s coverage of the attempted terror attack on Christmas Day, will anchor CNN Newsroom from 1 to 3 p.m. each day, in addition to continuing to anchor Your $$$$$ (note FIVE dollar symbols there so this show must be targeted to people who make much more money than I do). Velshi will premiere on the same day Rick Sanchez’s Rick’s List launches at 3 p.m., and John King’s new 7 p.m. show premieres.
Speaking of John King, his producer on Sunday’s State of the Union with John King, Michelle Jaconi, is headed to primetime with him. King is taking over Lou Dobbs’ slot, while CNN is considering candidates to take over State of the Union. CNN vets Gloria Borger and Candy Crowley have been filling in recently.
Speaking of CNN, former CNN contributor Tucker Carlson has launched Web site The Daily Caller, because clearly there’s a huge need for more news on the Internet.
Beyond CNN, Bob Bicknell, senior producer and managing editor of CBS’ Early Show senior producer and managing editor, has been named national media director of Zero Group, a public relations firm.
WKYC anchor Kit Andrews has been moved from the station’s 11 p.m. news to its 4 and 5:30 p.m. news, with Cammy Dierking joining Rob Braun in the main anchor slot at 5, 6 and 11 p.m., reports the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Bill Zwecker has been named entertainment contributor for Fox’s WFLD Chicago, reports TVNewscheck. Beginning Thursday, Jan. 7, Zwecker will make regular appearances on Good Day Chicago and Fox Chicago News at 9:00 p.m. Zwecker is entertainment columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, a position he has held since 1992. Prior to this, he was an associate editor and columnist for the Lerner Newspapers from 1987 to 1992.
Jon James, chief meteorologist at Morris’ ABC affiliate WTVQ Lexington, has departed the station, according to the Lexington Herald Leader. The station also declined to renew the contracts of three reporters, including veteran Michelle Rauch. Also in Lexington, Denny Trease left Gray’s CBS affiliate WKYT, citing contract disputes.
Anchor John O’Connor has been let go from WTEV/WAWS Jacksonville and will be replaced by Karen Adams, reports Florida News Center.
News Director Julie Moravchik was let go from Curtis Squire’s Fox affiliate KQDS Duluth, Minn.-Superior, Wisc., reports the Duluth News Tribune.
TV veteran Rich Samuels is leaving Window to the World Communications’ WTTW Chicago, where he’s been a correspondent on the public TV station’s Chicago Tonight.
Former Variety editor Mike Fleming has been hired as editor of Deadline.com’s New York edition, while Tim Adler comes on to run Deadline|London.
Robert G. Benya has been named president and CEO of MSO-controlled transactional programmer In Demand, after five months as interim CEO.
Jean McCormick has been named president and CEO of Incredible 3D, a company that is working to create 3D content that doesn’t require viewers to wear special glasses.
Adonis Hoffman, SVP and counsel of D.C.’s 4As, is exiting to head up a nonprofit group he helped launch. Hoffman will now be chairman of the American Business Leadership Institute, which he started with former congressman Vic Fazio two years ago to address corporate responsibility and the changing role of business in society.
John Shaffner, chairman of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS), prevailed in a run-off election on Jan. 6 to secure a second two-year term as chairman of the creative organization that hands out the primetime Emmy Awards.
Carat USA President Charlie Rutman and his End Zone Communications will head up The Ad Council’s media department, which is primarily charged with getting broadcasters, cable operators and other programming distributors to donate air time for public service campaigns, the creative for which is donated by ad agencies.
The Broadcasters Foundation of America’s board of directors has renamed its annual fundraising golf tournament the Philip J. Lombardo Charity Golf Tournament, in honor of Lombardo, who chairs BFA. The tournament is held each year prior to the start of the National Association of Broadcasters’ annual convention in Las Vegas. This year, the tournament will take place on Sunday, April 11, at the Bali Hai Golf Club.
Longtime KCTV anchor Wendall Anschutz, passed away Thursday, Jan. 7, from complications due to throat cancer. He was 71. Anschutz is survived by his wife of 29 years, Nita, and their children Serena and Curtis.
Yvonne Zanos, consumer reporter at KDKA Pittsburgh, died Friday, Jan. 8, from complications related to ovarian cancer. She had just turned 60.
Gumby creator Art Clokey died Friday, Jan. 8, reports the LA Times. He was 88.
Former broadcast engineer Robert Olin Niles, 74, passed away on Monday, Jan. 4, 2010, after battling fatal lung disease. Survivors include his wife, Kathleen; sons, Brian and Tim; and his three stepdaughters, Margie, and Michelle and Tracey, as well as 10 grandchildren. Other survivors include his sister, Susan Bonser of Saylorsburg. “Chopper Bob” Rall died in his sleep on Tuesday, Jan. 5, according to WAPT.com. He was 67.
David Gerber, producer, studio executive, industry statesman and philanthropist, died Saturday at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, reports the LA Times. He was 86. Gerber is survived by Stephens, his wife of 39 years. The family suggests donations be made to the David and Laraine Gerber Endowment Fund at University of the Pacific, 3601 Pacific Ave., Stockton, CA 95211; the USC Cardiac Electrophysiology Service, c/o Leslie A. Saxon, MD, 1510 San Pablo St., Suite 22, Los Angeles, CA 90033; House Ear Clinic, 2100 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles, CA, 90057; or any animal-rescue charity.
Rory Markas, TV play-by-play man for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, died suddenly Monday night at his home in Palmdale, Calif. He was 54. He’s survived by his mother, Billie, and brothers Gary and Troy.
KENS master cameraman Rex Conrad Stanley, nicknamed the “Silver Fox” for his thick head of silver hair, died Dec. 29 of leukemia. He was 84.
Comedian Jean Carroll, died at a hospital in White Plains on Jan. 1 at the age of 98, reported the New York Times. In the 40s and 50s, Carroll was a regular headliner in the country’s best-known theaters and nightclubs. She appeared often on The Ed Sullivan Show and had her own short-lived sitcom, The Jean Carroll Show, also called Take It From Me, broadcast on ABC in 1953-54. Carroll, who was known in private life as Celine Howe, is survived by her daughter, Helen Tunic, and two granddaughters, Susan, and Andrea.