The Insider: ABC: WHAT’S NEW?

Apr 12, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Did someone ask what’s going on at ABC News these days? Well, we’ll just pretend they did.
The word in well-connected circles is that ABC News has made its peace with hard-charging “Good Morning America” executive producer Shelley Ross and is no longer pressuring her to decamp for “PrimeTime” magazine territory.
In those same circles, the prevailing wisdom is that the week will be constructed to have Charlie Gibson and Diane Sawyer work four days, leaving three days for introduction of “Weekend GMA” when it launches in fall. And the hope is that shorter weeks will provide Mr. Gibson (whose contract negotiations reportedly boiled down to “It’s Shelley or me”) enough relief and flexibility after five years on “temporary” dawn patrol with Ms. Sawyer, to whom Ms. Ross tends to cater.
Speaking of “Weekend GMA,” while the name of correspondent and occasional anchor Dan Harris continues to be a running theme when talk turns to any new plum assignments, The Insider will not be surprised if the pivotal male “Weekend” position goes to Bill Weir, who was the main sports anchor at KABC-TV when he left the ABC-owned station in Los Angeles to seek broader fame and fortune in the summer of 2002.
“He’s smart, funny and good,” said one source familiar with the options being considered and with Mr. Weir’s background, which includes time spent as an early local news anchor. Meanwhile, the search for the female weekend co-anchor continues. Robin Roberts is described as “too important” to weekdays to be considered a candidate. And the feeling in some corners is that it would be better to go with an assortment of women rotating through the weekend assignment rather than force someone to fit the role.
Veteran “GMA” producer John Greene is considered the favorite for “Weekend GMA” executive producer.
Meanwhile, The Insider hears that Bob Lange, who was given interim control of “PrimeTime Thursday” after David Doss was abruptly unseated in mid-March, is impressing folks with his performance and that Mr. Doss, who had been working without a new contract for months, might yet land a new role at ABC News.
Finally, ABC News very recently posted the position that was held by Rick Kaplan, who spent about a year as a prodigal son at ABC News before being named president of MSNBC in mid-February. Well, actually, the job description that was posted referenced only “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” and “Nightline” reporting to this person. So now the question, for those of us who have an unnatural need to know, is whither “World News Tonight” will report.
Stay tuned.
The Insider had to giggle when she asked Anna Perez, who will become executive VP of communications for NBC May 1, about her personal TV choices and her response proved that it wasn’t just her impressive resume-from posts at Creative Artists Agency and The Walt Disney Co. to stints as press secretary for former first lady Barbara Bush and other political figures-that made her a Must-Be-NBC TV spokeswoman.
“I love Chris Matthews,” she said.
“I am a total `Law & Order’ junkie-first-run, reruns,” said Ms. Perez, who until the end of last year was deputy assistant to National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice.
That job was an obstacle to Ms. Perez’s getting into “The West Wing,” not because of any liberal tilt but because, “After spending 16 hours in the White House, the last thing I wanted to do was come home and watch the White House.” Her escape of choice tended to be classic-movie channels. However, as she was winding down in D.C., she began watching “West Wing,” starting with reruns on Bravo.
The Insider will divulge which of the New York tabloid gossip columns the New York native reads first each day to anyone who can accurately tote up all the various synergistic connections represented by Ms. Perez’s TV faves.