ABC News president Ben Sherwood will be taking the red eye back to New York tonight from Los Angeles, along with his new title: Co-president of Disney/ABC.
In his first interview since his big promotion, Sherwood tells The Hollywood Reporter this all came together in the last couple of weeks: “[Disney chairman] Bob [Iger] talked to a number of internal candidates. I spoke to him a couple weeks ago. My family, we went on vacation last week. Turns out we happened to be in Orlando at Walt Disney World for the week. This all came together very quickly between Space Mountain and Dumbo the Flying Elephant.”
While his family will move back to Los Angeles this summer, Sherwood will be splitting time between New York and Burbank for the next 9 months, until he fully takes the reins at Disney/ABC early next year. “I’m coming from a different part of the company — from news — and so it would be presumptuous that I would be doing anything but observing, listening and learning and contributing where I can,” Sherwood says
THR: The last successful news guy to take over an entertainment division was Jeff Zucker. Anything you learned from his tenure at NBC Universal?
Sherwood: Jeff has been a friend since college (at Harvard). We worked on the student newspaper together. I learned a lot about television news from Jeff. We worked at NBC together — I was at Nightly News when he ran the Today show. And I think that one of the things about Jeff when he ran the Today show, he trusted his gut. He focused incredibly hard on the storytelling. He was passionate and fearless. Those are qualities that I observed up close. He came up with “Where in the World is Matt Lauer,” he came up with the wedding on the plaza. He was just brimming with ideas.