Fates & Fortunes Weekly Round-Up: Dec. 14, 2009


The morning show shake-up we’ve all been hearing about for weeks finally became official last week, with George Stephanopoulos taking over Diane Sawyer’s spot on Good Morning America. Sawyer and Charlie Gibson before her each have gone on to anchor ABC’s World News Tonight – I’m sure George would be happy to follow in their august footsteps. ABC eventually will have to find a replacement for Stephanopoulos on Sunday morning political show This Week – candidates include ABC News’ chief White House correspondent Jake Tapper, Nightline co-anchor Terry Moran, and PBS’ Gwen Ifill.

As always, you can follow Fates on Twitter @BCFates or me personally @PaigeA if you are also willing to put up with tweets about how bereft I am now that Glee and Top Chef have both finished their seasons. Forward fates to me at BCFates@gmail.com or at palbiniak@gmail.com.
In the News

Both ABC and CBS are shaking up their morning news shows. George Stephanopoulos will co-host GMA with Robin Roberts starting today (Monday, Dec. 14). Stephanopoulos replaces Diane Sawyer who moves to ABC World News starting Monday, Dec. 21. GMA announced other changes too: Juju Chang will become the show’s news reader, replacing Chris Cuomo, son of former NY governor Mario Cuomo, who will anchor 20/20 with Elizabeth Vargas. Over at CBS, David Friedman was named The Early Show’s new EP, replacing Zev Shalev. Friedman is the son of CBS News VP Paul Friedman.

Jeff Zucker’s newly minted deal with Comcast will keep him on as NBC Universal president and CEO through 2013, reports the Hollywood Reporter. Zucker will report to Comcast COO Steve Burke.
Big Kahunas

Peter Liguori (pictured right), who was cut loose as Fox’s president of entertainment in March, has been named COO of Discovery Communications. Liguori will join the company Jan. 19, 2010, and stands to earn close to $5 million annually in his new position through salary, bonuses and stock options, reports Multichannel News . He replaces Mark Hollinger, who was named president and CEO of Discovery Networks International.

Anthea Disney, News Corp.’s EVP of content, will retire from the company at the end of this year. Disney is best known for her stint as chairman of Gemstar-TV Guide. Disney plans to work at a non-profit she founded that aids and funds women entrepreneurs.

Sending a clear message that Chicago-based Harpo will remain in business after The Oprah Winfrey Show signs off in 2011, HarpoStudios named two new presidents: Sheri Salata, executive producer of The Oprah Winfrey Show, and Erik Logan, Harpo executive vice president.  Tim Bennett, Harpo’s current president, will retire at the end of May 2010.

Programming Prospects

Tim Minear has inked a new two-year overall deal with 20th Century Fox TV, where he has been based for more than 12 years, reports the Hollywood Reporter. Minear will join Fox 21’s Terriers, a buddy-cop drama series for FX with a comedic tone. Minear most recently worked on Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse, which has been cancelled.

Lynn Sadofsky has been named director of development and EP at Planet Green, while Leigh Ashurst has been promoted to director of development and production. Sadofsky, based in New York, comes to Planet Green from the TV show, Whatever Martha!, featuring Martha Stewart’s daughter, Alexis and her radio co-host, Jennifer Koppelman Hutt. Ashurst, who will remain in Silver Spring, Md., joined Planet Green in 2007 as manager development. She joined Discovery  seven years ago as part of the The Travel Channel.

Baseball Hall of Fame journalist Peter Gammons has decided to leave ESPN after Major League Baseball’s winter meetings. Gammons has been at the network since 1989.
Corporate Changes

Pragash Pillai has been promoted to SVP of engineering and technology at Bresnan Communications. Pillai joined Bresnan in 2006 as VP of strategic engineering.
Station Switches

Gerry Spector has been named Tribune’s COO, effective immediately. Spector formerly was Tribune’s chief administrative officer. SVP/CFO Chandler Bigelow also is expanding his responsibilities to cover the publishing division’s financial operations and all centralized human resources operations. Nils Larsen has been named Chief Investment Officer. Larsen has been with Tribune since December 2008 and has been responsible for helping spearhead Tribune’s restructuring efforts.

Steve Mauldin has been named president/GM at CBS’ duopoly KCBS/KCAL Los Angeles. Mauldin comes from Dallas, where he was president/general manager at KTVT and KTXA. He will report to CBS Television Stations President Peter Dunn. Mauldin succeeds Patrick McClenahan, who is leaving CBS to pursue other opportunities.
Journalism Jumps

Leo Wolinsky, an editor and reporter at the Los Angeles Times for 31 years, has been named editor of Daily Variety, encompassing both the L.A. and Gotham editions. Wolinsky, whose masthead positions at the Times included managing editor and executive editor, will be responsible for all editorial content for the print edition. He begins in January.

Abbey Klaassen has been named Ad Age’s new executive editor, in charge of all editorial operations for the brand. She replaces Jonah Bloom, who is leaving Ad Age to become CEO and editor-in-chief of B2B blog network Breaking Media. Klaussen, who joined the publication five years ago, currently is Ad Age’s digital editor. Senior Editor Matthew Creamer also is leaving the publication to become executive editor at Breaking Media.

Janet Coats, VP of news for the Florida Communications Group, which includes WFLA Tampa and TBO.com, is retiring on Dec. 18 to spend more time with her husband. Coats has been working in Tampa while her husband works in Knoxville, Tenn. Coats, 46, also served as executive editor of the Tampa Tribune, a job she has held since January 2005. She joined the Tribune in 2004 as managing editor, and was promoted to VP of news in 2008.

Alex Wellen has been named senior executive producer of integrated programming for CNN.  In this role, Alex will be domestic television’s senior editorial liaison with our partners at CNN.com, CNN Mobile and Audience Experience, working to deliver content across all of CNN’s platforms.  Wellen also has written a novel called Lovesick.

Bob Bruce, anchor at WPXI Pittsburgh, is leaving the station on Dec. 31 to launch his new financial consulting business, Integrity Wealth Consulting. His partner in the venture is his former co-anchor Newlin Archinal.

Kelly Swoope and Roosevelt Leftwich debuted  on Scripps-owned ABC affiliate WMAR Baltimore as replacements for Mary Beth Marsden and Terry Owens, who took buyout offers and left the station last week after 21 and 17 years, respectively, reports The Baltimore Sun’s David Zurawik in his blog, Z on TV. Swoope will anchor at 5, 6 and 11 p.m. weeknights replacing Marsden, while Leftwich will anchor 5:30 p.m. weekdays and 11 p.m. Sunday. He replaces Owens in the 5:30 p.m. weeknight slot. Neither Swoope nor Leftwich is new to WMAR. Leftwich arrived at the station in 2000 from WEWS in Cleveland where he was a reporter. Swoope came to the station in 2003 as a medical reporter and weekend anchor from WFTS in Tampa-St. Petersburg. She had worked there since 1994.

The Weather Channel’s Kevin Robinson will become chief meteorologist at WLWT Cincinnati, reports John Kiesewatter.

Melissa Magee has been named the new weekend weather anchor at WPVI Philadelphia, replacing Erica Grow, who left the station after three years.

Bennett Cunningham, investigative reporter at CBS-owned KTVT Dallas, is leaving the station after being told his salary would be reduced by 10 percent, reports Uncle Barky’s Bytes. Cunningham, who passed the Texas State Bar two years ago, plans to practice law out of his home.

Karen Adams, who has anchored WAAY Huntsville, Ala.’s evening news since 2007, will become evening anchor at WTEV Jacksonville, Fla., on Jan. 4.
Tech trades

Greg Gudorf, most recently CEO of Paul Allen-backed DVR company Digeo, will lead a new business division at Thomson Technicolor, reports Multichannel News.
D.C. Denizens

Former Republican FCC Chairman Michael Powell and former Democratic congressman and chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council Harold Ford have been named honorary co-chairs of Broadband For America. Broadband for America comprises cable and phone networks, associations–including the National Cable & Telecommunications Association–advocacy groups and others advocating broadband adoption and getting broadband to unserved areas, particularly via continued private sector investment.

Jane Clarke has been named managing director of the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement (CIMM). Clarke will oversee day-to-day operations of the organization, including managing the RFI process, forming relationships with vendors and oversight of the group’s research studies. She will report to Colleen Fahey Rush, chairman of the CIMM executive board and MTV Networks’ executive VP of strategic insights and research.

Sue Keenom has been named the NAB’s SVP of state associations, a new position at the organization. Keenom had been running the International Women’s Leadership Forum, Keenom formerly was a staffer for NAB President Gordon Smith in his previous role as a two-term Republican senator from Oregon.

Dr. Paul Liao, CableLabs’ President/CEO of CableLabs and Becky Powhatan Kelley, The Weather Channel’s EVP of distribution and business affairs and general counsel, both have been named to CTAM’s board of directors.

Paul Kangas, anchor for PBS’ Nightly Business Report, and Linda O’Bryon, chief content officer of Northern Cailfornia Public Broadcasting, each were given lifetime achievement awards in business and financial reporting by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS). The association announced the winners of its 7th Annual Emmys for business and financial reporting on Monday, Dec. 7, in New York City.  A list of all the winners is available at www.emmyonline.tv.