A video posted on Vimeo by someone using the pseudonym “Roone Arledge” (the former president of ABC News & Sports) a few days ago has been making the rounds at ABC and at other news organizations. The video attacks the choice of Ben Sherwood as the new president of ABC News:
Someone who just spoke to Sherwood today tells TVNewser that he “laughed it off.”
“In this age, in this business, it is to be expected,” they added.
Sherwood should not be immune from criticism, but office gossip is not always fact.
The notion that he was about to be fired from ABC News in 2006–a move that Anne Sweeney, president of Disney/ABC TV Group, would surely have been in the know about–only to be re-hired by Sweeney in a much more senior role four years later requires a certain leap of logic.
And while the movie adaptation of the book The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud was a flop, the actual book made the New York Times bestseller list.
Other claims, like that famed Hollywood producer Brian Grazer got him the new ABC News gig, or that he lied about his mother’s (very real) illness to save face, seem pulled out of thin air.
This is not to say Sherwood is a saint. A number of current and former ABC News employees TVNewser spoke to are not pleased with the choice, and had sour experiences with him in the past. It seems many were hoping for a current employee like “Nightline” executive producer James Goldston to get the top job, and were “surprised” when Sweeney went to the well to tap Sherwood.
Of course, Disney often goes outside of its internal divisions when filling top spots. The company’s CFO swapped places with the head of its theme park division last year, and this year after ABC Family chief Paul Lee took over ABC Entertainment, he was replaced by a Disney Radio executive.
It seems unlikely that any choice–even someone generally well-liked like Goldston–would have received a warm welcome from all employees in a news division which has been hit hard over the last few years.