Ross Exits ‘GMA’ for ‘PrimeTime’

Apr 19, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Following months of speculation, ABC News announced last week it would move “Good Morning America” executive producer Shelley Ross to “PrimeTime Thursday” in the same capacity.
The move is one Ms. Ross has resisted mightily but would seem to secure Charlie Gibson as Diane Sawyer’s “Good Morning America” co-anchor.
Mr. Gibson, who has built up a lifetime’s worth of good will at ABC News, had by all accounts refused to stay with “GMA,” where he and Ms. Sawyer have been the “temporary” anchors since 1999, if the hard-driving Ms. Ross-whom he believes caters to Ms. Sawyer-continued to be executive producer. A number of other key “GMA” staffers were also said to have been worn out during the Ross regime and in danger of leaving the show.
ABC News is expected to name Ben Sherwood, an alumnus of ABC News’ old “PrimeTime Live” and NBC News’ “Nightly News,” the executive producer of “GMA.”
Ms. Ross, who took over “GMA” in 1999, when it was plummeting in the ratings, has earned a great deal of credit for stopping the years of bleeding. She has infused the show with a snap and sizzle it had not had since the news division took it over from the entertainment division and mucked with the Charlie Gibson-Joan Lunden model that had once made it the most popular morning show.
However, there is a sense that “GMA” under Ms. Ross has plateaued with a real gain of some 400,000 viewers. Despite sometimes huge ratings spikes that push it within tantalizing range of “Today,” “GMA” still tends to run 1 million-plus viewers behind the NBC No. 1 morning show.
And with “The Early Show” on CBS showing sustained growth that once was unthinkable, “GMA” cannot afford to stall or lose ground-which would have been likely if the unflappable, versatile and familiar Mr. Gibson were to leave.
Before “Good Morning America,” Ms. Ross was executive producer of special projects, West Coast, and a senior producer with “PrimeTime Live” and “20/20.” She joined ABC News in 1989.