Diane Sawyer Signs Off World News: ‘I’ll See You Right Back Here on ABC News, Very Soon’ (TVNewser)
In what may be the most subdued evening news transition since John Chancellor handed off NBC Nightly News to Tom Brokaw and Roger Mudd in 1982, Diane Sawyer signed off World News Wednesday night. ABC hadn’t announced when Sawyer’s final show would air. That news came in a tweet from Sawyer Wednesday afternoon. New York Post Sawyer signed off from World News on Wednesday after nearly five years — with gratitude and thanks for her viewers and staff. Sawyer took a few minutes at the end of the program to speak of the “deep privilege it has been to sit in the anchor chair” once occupied by the late Peter Jennings, and assured viewers that the broadcast was in “strong and steady hands” under new anchor David Muir. Deadline Hollywood ABC News noted Wednesday morning that she took the newscast to back-to-back sweep wins in the news demo — in May and July — for the first time in seven years. The show ranked No. 1 in the news demo for her final full week. Mediaite Sawyer will be moving on to running an ABC News team that will produce news specials and conduct high-profile interviews. She promised that the show would not change after she leaves, and as for her own future, “I am not slowing down, but gearing up in a new way.” Sawyer concluded, “With gratitude for these years, I thank you, and I’ll see you right back here on ABC News very soon.” Mashable Sawyer announced her departure from the news program and Muir’s new role back in June. Muir was set to take over the job on Sept. 2 and will continue co-hosting 20/20 on top of his new duties.
Freed Journalist Peter Theo Curtis Returns to U.S., Asks for Space From Media Covering His Story (TVNewser)
Freed American journalist Peter Theo Curtis, who was imprisoned for nearly two years in Syria, spoke for the first time since his release Wednesday morning. “I had no idea when I was in prison so much effort was being expended on my behalf, and now having found out, I am just overwhelmed by emotion,” Curtis said outside his family’s home in Massachusetts. Mediaite A journalist himself, Curtis promised to feed our gnawing need for content, but after he had reconnected with his family. “In the future I promise I will respond to your emails and I’ll help you guys do your job,” Curtis said. “I’m one of you and I know what you are going through. I want to help you guys and I will be there and respond. But I can’t do it now.” Boston Globe Curtis arrived back in Boston on Tuesday, his family said. Curtis was handed over to United Nations peacekeepers in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on Sunday evening, according to a United Nations spokesman. After it was determined he was in good medical condition, he was transferred to representatives of the U.S. government, the U.N. said. HuffPost / AP The release of Curtis by Syrian captors has prompted 60 Minutes to issue portions of an interview with a fellow ex-hostage that the show had edited last year to remove references to Curtis. During an interview with photojournalist Matthew Schrier about his captivity in Syria for a story that aired last November, Schrier had talked about being kept in a cell with Curtis and how his fellow American helped him escape through a window to freedom. Curtis’ family, however, asked CBS not to identify him for fear that it could jeopardize his chances for release, said CBS News spokesman Kevin Tedesco.
Governor, Legislative Leaders Reach Deal on California Movie, TV Tax Credit (Variety)
California legislative leaders and Gov. Jerry Brown announced a deal on Wednesday to extend and expand California’s movie and TV tax credit, more than tripling its size to $330 million annually. NYT In announcing the agreement, legislators noted that film production dropped by about half in California in the last 15 years, as incentives from the national government and other states, including New York, drew production away. THR “This law will make key improvements in our Film and Television Tax Credit Program and put thousands of Californians to work,” Brown said in a statement. The figure turned out to be smaller than the $400 million figure that was initially approved in a bill that passed in the state Senate. The current funding for the film and TV incentive currently sits at $100 million a year. Deadline Hollywood Among other changes, the expanded program will also now see the end of the annual lottery allocation system and allow big budget movies and network pilots to be eligible for credits. With an emphasis on job creation, the program will run for 5 years starting next year as opposed to the present system of 2-year extensions.
Chuck Todd Gets Advice From Sen. John McCain on Meet The Press Hosting Duties (FishbowlDC)
During his final week as host of The Daily Rundown before taking over as Meet The Press moderator, Chuck Todd has featured surprise guests coordinated by producers including Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) Wednesday morning. McCain, the most popular MTP guest in terms of his number of appearances, was on hand to offer advice to Todd in his new role. TVNewser McCain told him, “[D]o what you do best, and that is focus on the political dynamics that are going on in this country.” Mediaite “One of the things about Tim [Russert, the show’s standard-bearing host] is that he had really the best minds in America, but not on every subject, but particularly on what was going on in Washington, D.C. Because I think that’s what the original purpose of Meet The Press was… Of course, I have absolutely no responsibility for anything I’ve just said,” McCain added, before warning Todd he wasn’t going to be so nice the several dozen times he was set to appear on the Sunday show itself.
Anonymous Website Group Claims to Have Outed Nikki Finke (FishbowlNY)
A turbulent week of media coverage for Nikki Finke just got a whole lot more turbulent. Following pieces by BuzzFeed‘s Kate Aurthur and NYT’s Ravi Somaiya about Finke’s current settlement talks with PMC, a mysterious new website — nikkistink.com — went live Wednesday with footage it claims is that of the reclusive Hollywood journalist. New York Post A group that calls itself the Committee for Decency in Journalism posted purported video and pictures of the blogger on nikkistinks.com under the headline “GOTJA!” — riffing on Finke’s “TOLDJA!” catchphrase. The group goes on to list a number of people Finke has taken to task during her days at Deadline Hollywood and more recently NikkiFinke.com, the site she started after falling out with Deadline owner Penske Media. THR PMC founder Jay Penske acquired Finke’s site Deadline Hollywood in 2009, but his acquisition of trade newspaper Variety three years later created an ugly rift between the two that led Finke to demand she be released from her contract. Over Penske’s objections that she was violating a noncompete clause, Finke founded her own site, NikkiFinke.com, in June. There, amid her trademark snarky diatribes, Finke aired dirty laundry in posts like, “Penske Trying to Shut Me Down.”
NBC Nixed Suicide PSA After Robin Williams Emmys Tribute (THR)
NBC’s well-received tribute to Robin Williams at the 2014 Primetime Emmy Awards — gracefully performed by Williams’ close pal Billy Crystal — could have taken a darker turn. Advocates from the National Suicide Prevention Network requested that NBC post its “lifeline” phone number following the segment, but producers declined. Mediaite A spokesperson for NBC acknowledged they had been approached, and said they made a decision not to mention suicide in any form after the Williams tribute. “Collectively we decided to celebrate the life of Robin Williams, not his death or, more to the point, the way he died.”
Fox News to Premiere 13 Hours at Benghazi (TVNewser)
Days before the two-year anniversary of the terrorist attack that killed four Americans, including ambassador Chris Stevens, at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, Fox News will air a special documentary. FishbowlDC Fox News Channel will present 13 Hours at Benghazi hosted by chief political anchor Bret Baier on Friday, Sept. 5 at 6 p.m. The documentary features an exclusive interview with three American security personnel, revealing for the first time their identities, who fought in the Sept. 11, 2012 attacks in Benghazi.
C-SPAN Gearing Up for Midterm Elections (TVNewser)
Wednesday afternoon, C-SPAN was out with its plans for the 2014 midterms. The network will televise more than 100 Senate, House and governor debates leading up to this year’s midterm elections. Many will be simulcasted on local stations across the country. FishbowlDC The public affairs cable network also launched a landing page for video coverage of said debates, named Campaign 2014. “With the balance of power at stake in Congress, especially in the closely watched U.S. Senate races, C-SPAN will be the one place where you can see all the debates in the most competitive races,” said C-SPAN senior EP and political editor Steve Scully. Fall debate coverage on C-SPAN begins Sept. 3 at 7 p.m.
Former Times Comms Chief Heads to Alibaba (PRNewser)
Robert H. Christie, known as Bob the PR Guy on Twitter, will serve as vice president of international media for the China-based e-commerce giant Alibaba as it prepares for its pending IPO. Capital New York Christie had recently been working for the communications firm Burson-Marsteller. Before that, he was the New York Times’ top PR executive and a close lieutenant of chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. until his position was eliminated in January 2013 as the Times Company was slimming down amid the sale of non-core assets. He ran communications for Dow Jones prior to joining the Times in 2010.
Fusion Hires Jonathan Stern as VP of Business Development (TVNewser)
Fusion has hired Jonathan Stern as VP of Business Development. “Fusion needs to be everywhere our audience is and Jonathan will play a key strategic role in helping us achieve that,” said Fusion CEO Isaac Lee. Stern joins from Red Bull Media.
NBC Ups Jenny Groom to SVP Alternative Programming & Development (Deadline Hollywood)
Jenny Groom has clearly risen through the ranks at NBC, starting as a page in 2003, and now elevated to SVP alternative programming and development. In her new role, Groom is responsible for overseeing all of development for the alternative department, shepherding new series from concept through production of the first season. During her tenure at NBC she has worked on shows including The Biggest Loser, The Sing-Off, and Betty White’s Off Their Rockers.
Washingtonian’s Rebecca Nelson to Join National Journal (FishbowlDC)
In true Karin Tanabe/The List fashion, Washingtonian assistant editor Rebecca Nelson is headed to National Journal, where she’ll cover political news of the day as a staff correspondent. In her recent pieces on Washingtonian.com, Nelson has written about Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, “Watergate Witness John Dean” and Andrea Mitchell.
BuzzFeed Brings in TNR’s Noah Chestnut for Its New News App (Capital New York)
BuzzFeed is hiring Noah Chestnut to lead product development on its new BuzzFeed News app, a spokeswoman for the company said. Chestnut is currently the director of labs at The New Republic, where he has been responsible for helping launch new products like the policy blog Q.E.D., the World Cup blog Goal Posts and an email newsletter focused on the magazine’s coverage of Ukraine.
Katie Couric on Diane Sawyer: ‘I Wonder Who She Blew This Time’ (The Daily Beast)
For Katie Couric, Diane Sawyer and Christiane Amanpour, the moment of truth is about to arrive — or at least a book-length facsimile thereof: The News Sorority, veteran journalist Sheila Weller’s gossipy chronicle of the rise (and occasional stumbles) of three of television news’ best-known women. TVNewser On Couric, the Daily Beast’s Lloyd Grove excerpts one of the juicier tidbits: “When Diane beat Katie on an interview with a 57-year-old woman who’d given birth to twins, Katie mused aloud, according to a person who heard the comment: ‘I wonder who she blew this time to get it.’”
Keith Olbermann Returning to SportsCenter (THR / The Live Feed)
Keith Olbermann is coming back to SportsCenter — well, sort of. The host is set to anchor future segments of the show where he rose to stardom as co-anchor. ESPN announced that Olbermann will be moving to a new 5 p.m. ET time slot, beginning Monday, Sept. 8. Olbermann noted the shift from 11 p.m. on the one-year anniversary of the program.