The Insider

Jun 3, 2002  •  Post A Comment

‘This Week’s’ candidates
So at long last we are about to get the announcement from ABC News that George Stephanopoulos will be moderator of “This Week.” What took so dadgum long? you might well ask. To which The Insider would reply that one hang-up has been working out Sam Donaldson’s new role and another was settling on who should be the show’s executive producer.
Sources familiar with the situation say ABC News wants to make the transition a graceful one for Mr. Donaldson, who has been the host of SamDonaldson@abcnews.com in addition to co-anchor with Cokie Roberts’ on “This Week,” but that the negotiations with the famously energetic 35-year network veteran have gone very slowly. “Sam’s holding things up” is the way more than one observer described the lack of resolution. “Management could make the announcements without having him wrapped up but would rather not,” one source said.
On the question of who should be “This Week’s” executive producer, ABC News late last week seemed poised to go with Jon Banner, a “World News Tonight” senior producer who has been described as “a Jeff Zucker in training.” That’s a compliment that translates as “good with the TV stuff.” Mr. Banner has shared in Emmy-winning programs whose scope was big (“World News Tonight Saturday” coverage of the mass exodus of refugees from Kosovo in 2000) and bigger (ABC News’ “Millennium Special”).
Meanwhile, Virginia Moseley, who was unable to restore “This Week’s” competitive luster during her 21/2 years as executive producer, will be assigned to oversee all guest bookings for ABC News (a chore that often translates to keeping news divas from butting expensively coiffed heads in the battle for big interviews) after her successor is in place. And Ms. Roberts has already said she is going to take off Sundays, among other days, starting this fall.
Glass slipper fits Allison Stewart
Fans of Allison Stewart know her as a brainy correspondent on MTV News and CBS News and as a charming anchor on ABC “World News Now.”
They know her as a woman whose fashion style might be summed up, affectionately of course, as sort of geek chic … until she hit Cannes on assignment to cover the ultimate film festival for Bravo. By the time closing night rolled around, Ms. Stewart had morphed into an exquisitely and casually glamorous creature who seemed always to have been a butterfly. She stashed the heavily rimmed glasses that tend to hide her eyes, she swept up her hair in a Julia Robertsy cascade of wispy waves and she showed just enough shoulder to carry off a simple black halter dress.
Ms. Stewart was in Prague, Czech Republic, on the last day of a week’s worth of backpacking when she got the call from Bravo, which asked whether she would take the Cannes assignment. She made a quick trip stateside to deliver a Mother’s Day present and stuff a bag with the black-tie apparel the assignment required. And that classic halter dress? She had bought it on discount at Loehmann’s two years before, “Thinking, you know, it couldn’t hurt to have a black dress,” and had worn it only once, to a friend’s wedding.
She worked long days interviewing, producing, editing and wondering occasionally if she would die in a paparazzi crush. But she said the most Bertoluccian moment was the night of the AMFAR benefit as Sharon Stone worked the center of the red carpet-“I was so impressed”-and Ms. Stewart worked the fringes of the red carpet “wedged between an Italian crew that had no concept of boundaries and the European equivalent of `Entertainment Tonight.’“
Now it’s time to focus on what she’s going to do next with her life, which went from night to day last February when she left ABC and the overnight newscast that brings out the eccentric charms of its best anchors.
“I have dream jobs, and I’m going to focus on making them come true,” she said.
Sigh. All The Insider has are lottery dreams.
The word from Brian Williams
OK, The Insider does have another dream, one she has been nurturing since the press conference at which NBC announced that Tom Brokaw would pass the “Nightly News” baton to Brian Williams after the 2004 presidential elections. Mr. Williams coined-and illustrated-a phrase to describe brown-nosing openly: “Public sycophanticide.”
Starting this month the Insider is challenging herself to slip that verbal puppy into at least one conversation per week or to hold at least one conversation per week that could be fairly characterized as public sycophanticide.
Bedingfield takes on Productions
Sid Bedingfield, executive editor of the CNN News Group, will now also oversee CNN Productions, the long-form unit headed until last week by Vivian Schiller, recently named general manager of Discovery Civilization Channel, the Discovery-New York Times joint venture being prepped for relaunch.
The additional responsibility is logical because, “He’s kind of a godfather to that group,” said someone familiar with the history of CNN Productions, which has earned numerous awards for its “CNN Presents” documentaries and has some synergy with “People in the News.” Instead of replacing Ms. Schiller, CNN is expected to have the team leaders at Productions report directly to Mr. Bedingfield, who continues as right-hand man to CNN News Group Chairman Walter Isaacson.