‘America’s Most Wanted’ on Rocks: From Most Wanted to Hope Wanted

AmericasMostWanted.jpg FOX’s “America’s Most Wanted,” based in Bethesda, is in a troubled state of affairs – and not because of the fugitives and outlaw motorcycle gangs they search for, but because of layoffs. As of late, the show has laid off an approximate 30 percent of their staff, including the entire LA-based West Coast Bureau.

Avery Mann, director of publicity based in Bethesda, lost both his deputies, Geri West and Nicole Cates. Mann did not return an e-mail request for comment. Mann’s voice mail says he prefers e-mail requests for comment.

Some 30-year reporters and producers (including West Coast Bureau Chief Van King) are out of work as a result. One staffer (still employed there) called it a “blood bath” while another producer, still employed, says they have no idea how they’re going to get the show on the air each week.

Roughly a dozen on and off-air staffers resigned on their own accord in the last year (including Quinn & Gillespie’s Chris Brown and Fox News/HLN commentator Michelle Sigona).

This latest round of losses adds 20 staffers to the roster.

The backstory…

Things began to erode last August when the highly paid host, John Walsh, fired Lance Heflin, his executive producer of 20 years (and the first executive producer of CBS News’s “48 Hours”). The new co-executive producer, AP reporter and FOX News executive Steve Katz, has not endeared himself to staff, sources told FishbowlDC

“John Walsh is only in the office twice a year,” a producer says. “He won’t interact with the staff. He has no interest in the stories we’re producing. He has no idea who any of us are, and he could care less who’s writing his scripts. We’ve made huge sacrifices to do this work because we believe in it, and we’re all being replaced by unpaid interns as a result.”

Another staffer remarked, “Everyone loved, trusted and respected Lance. In the last year, everything has fallen apart. There’s no way FOX will renew this show for another season.”

FishbowlDC phoned FOX’s Alex Gillespie in Manhattan. If a comment comes in, we’ll bring it to you.