Former CNBC executive Jonathan Wald is in talks to become executive producer of Piers Morgan's upcoming CNN program.
While no deal is yet completed, the two sides are in negotiations for Wald to assume the position, according to multiple sources. CNN declined to comment.
Morgan's show, which will replace Larry King Live this January, is a high priority for CNN as the network attempts to reverse its primetime ratings slide. Parker/Spitzer, the first of CNN's new primetime hours, bowed last week. And although the show, co-hosted by conservative columnist Kathleen Parker and disgraced New York governor Eliot Spitzer, did not do much to move the ratings needle, CNN executives were encouraged that the show managed to build on its John King, USA lead-in. Both shows were developed by Jon Klein, who was fired last month and replaced as head of CNN/U.S. by HLN chief Ken Jautz.
Morgan is well-known to U.S. audiences as the British judge on NBC's America's Got Talent. But he has considerable media experience in the U.K., including long stints in the tabloid press as well as a primetime interview program called Piers Morgan's Life Stories.
Wald would bring considerable hard news experience to the job. He left CNBC in 2009, after shepherding the network's business day programming through the financial crisis; a period that saw unprecedented ratings growth for the NBC Universal-owned business channel. Prior to CNBC, Wald held multiple executive producer jobs at NBC News including at flagship broadcasts Today and Nightly News during Tom Brokaw's tenure. He's currently on the adjunct faculty at the journalism school at Columbia University.
Jautz met with prospective producers for Morgan's show last week. At the time, Jautz said he'd like to get someone in quickly so that the nuts and bolts of the show can begin to be hammered.
The list of producers vetted included veterans of late night and daytime television. Among them: Todd Yasui, the former senior VP of late-night at Fox, who last week sealed a deal to produce the upcoming Jamie Foxx sketch comedy show set to bow next year on Fox; and Corin Nelson, a former producer on Rosie O'Donnell, Tyra Banks and Chelsea Lately. Nelson recently signed on to helm Sony Pictures Television's pilot with Dr. Mehmet Oz's wife, Lisa.