James Goldston, senior producer of prime time specials and investigative reports, for ABC News, has been named executive producer of Nightline.
He takes over when Tom Bettag leaves at the end of the year. Bettag and host Ted Koppel are leaving together and plan to hang out their shingle as an independent news/documentary team.
Goldston will run Nightline offices in Washington and New York, remaining based in the latter.
Before joining ABC, Goldston produced British current affairs show, Tonight with Trevor McDonald, on ITV1, as well as a host of documentaries including the high-profile Tonight documentary, Living with Michael Jackson.
The move came as a surprise to some staffers, who thought the new exec. producer might come from the Washington ranks or someone who has been working on the "morphing" of the show into a more entertainment-oriented offering.
Producer Sara Just was said to have been the inside favorite for the Nightline EP post among Washington staffers, who have been concerned about too much New York influence on what had been a Washington-centric show under Bettag.
While Goldston will be based in New York, he will shuttle between New York and Washington regularly, said show spokeswoman Emily Lenzner. And Just, who has been shepherding the twice-weekly multi-topic shows, will be senior managing producer in Washington, at least through the transition.
Goldston comes aboard next week and soon after will begin shepherding the multi-topic shows.
Nightline has been mixing hard news stories with pieces on, say a new Paul Anka CD, on Mondays and one other day, though that is expected to become Monday and Friday as ABC transitions the show to the post-Koppel era.
ABC has made no secret of wanting to remake the show to draw younger viewers and mix up the story selection with more human interest pieces.
Goldston, an Oxford graduate, is also a former BBC News producer, including of Newsnight, a show similar to Nightline, as well as Panorama and The Money Program.
Goldston's international news experience plays into Nightline's traditional strength in that area, said Lenzner, who suggested Goldston would uphold the show's commitment to hard news.