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Ein Klein Cut

Jan 10, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Neither The Insider nor her tap-tap-tappy laptop could be at The Palm in Washington Thursday night to attend the bon voyage gathering for Tucker Carlson (and “Crossfire’s” eventual status as a standalone show). But everybody who is anybody who was there (without their laptops) still is aboil and aghast at what new CNN/U.S. chief Jonathan Klein had to say about the show that, for better or worse, had been one of CNN’s rare must-see and must-be-on shows for more than 22 years.

In comments heard on NPR’s “Morning Edition” (and re-broadcast about the time folks were descending on The Palm), Mr. Klein characterized “Crossfire” and shout shows like it to “crack” and said the public has overdosed on them and that CNN must wean itself off them.

One D.C. insider, speaking for many, said “Crossfire” had been one of CNN’s most successful franchises until CNN’s management decided it should be expanded and moved from early evening (when all Washington could tune in) to an extremely problematic afternoon time slot.

“Fox News took the `Crossfire’ format and built an entire channel on it,” said the lowercased insider.

The uppercased Insider wonders if Mr. Klein might not want to shop for a work wardrobe made of Kevlar.

Meanwhile, Jon Stewart, who attacked Mr. Carlson’s tie and TV persona, not to mention “Crossfire” itself, when he appeared on the CNN show in October, noted on his “Daily Show” last Thursday that “Crossfire’s” pending cancellation apparently means that “news is fixed. I had no idea that if you wanted a show canceled, all you had to do is to say it out loud.”

The Insider can hardly wait for the commentary on the demise of “Capital Gang,” which also is said to be on the list of CNN’s doomed shows.

Hi-Def ‘Journey’

“The Remarkable Journey” ventures for the first time into high-definition territory with a special produced for Black History Month. It also will be the only time in the foreseeable future.

“We need to experiment with this to make sure it’s a good fit for everyone,” said Emerson Coleman, the programming VP for Hearst-Argyle Television and the co-creator of “Journey” a decade ago. But a permanent switch to HD for “Journey” isn’t likely to happen until, among other things, there’s something like unanimity on HD format. The new installment was produced in the 720p format for ABC affiliates and in 1080i for NBC and CBS and independent stations by Access Entertainment News Production, which handles the production for NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution.

In the meantime, Mr. Coleman said, “it’s an opportunity to create a future asset for ourselves. It has application down the road.”

The “Journey” Black History Month special, which will be seen between now and late February throughout the country, finds host Kweisi Mfume interviewing Lisa Leslie, the Olympic gold medalist and WNBA star, and radio personality Tom Joyner.

And Mr. Coleman invites National Association of Television Program Executives conference attendees to stick around until closing day Jan. 27 for an 11 a.m. panel in the Presentation Theater at Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay. They’ll discuss the rapid growth of minority and immigrant groups in the U.S. TV audience and how the industry can prepare for demographic changes. Journalist-novelist Guy Garcia will moderate the discussion featuring Elizabeth Cheng, VP of programming and communications for Hearst-Argyle’s WCVB-TV and WMUR-TV, Boston; Voy Group Chairman and CEO Fernando Espuelas; Lee Gaither, executive VP of programming and production for TV One; and Women in Cable and Telecommunications President and CEO Benita Fitzgerald Mosley.

“It’s a topic that needs to be widely debated,” Mr. Coleman said.