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‘Good Morning America’ Loses Another Key Player

Jun 2, 2006  •  Post A Comment

“Good Morning America” Executive Producer Ben Sherwood Friday said he plans to leave the show, creating a management vacancy as ABC tries to stabilize a program that is losing co-host Charlie Gibson.

Mr. Sherwood, who joined “GMA” in April 2004, is departing after Oct. 1 and plans to move to Los Angeles from New York and spend more time with his family, he said in a Friday e-mail to his staff.

For “important reasons, we need to be on the West Coast now, closer to our family,” he said.

Mr. Sherwood’s decision to leave “GMA,” the second-place morning show among viewers, comes at a delicate time for the program. Mr. Gibson is leaving the show to anchor ABC’s “World News Tonight” as the network tries to narrow the morning-show lead held by NBC’s “Today.” “Today” itself is losing a star, Katie Couric, to an evening news show.

ABC announced on Friday that for the May sweeps ratings period, “GMA” posted the second-smallest gap between it and “Today” since 1996. “GMA” trailed “Today” by 810,000 total viewers.

A person familiar with the situation said that officials at ABC and parent Walt Disney Co. are making efforts to keep Mr. Sherwood at the company once he moves to Los Angeles.

“This has been an incredibly difficult decision-I grew up at ABC News and it feels like I am leaving my second family,” Mr. Sherwood’s e-mail to the “GMA” staff read.