George Stephanopoulos has heard it all: “he’s too serious to anchor a morning show;” “he’s a political guy;” “does he even care who the cast of “Dancing with the Stars” is?”
He got the job anyway.
And Stephanopoulos knows the one thing he needs to work on to be a success at the #2 morning show: “I just have to learn to let go a little bit,” says the former political operative-turned TV host. “Just go with the flow.”
But toughening up “Good Morning America” is all part of ABC News president David Westin’s plan. “Long before” Charlie Gibson decided to retire from ABC News, which set in motion the events of today, Westin tells us he’d been working with the GMA team to make what he calls, “a slight course alteration — more news in the first half hour, 45 minutes. Not that we’re never going to do cooking segments or celebrity interviews,” he adds.
And Stephanopoulos says that suits him just fine. The new direction “happened to match my experience and my talents, with a real news focus on politics and public affairs,” says Stephanopoulos, who will anchor the full two-hour broadcast, five days a week.
The most difficult part of saying “yes” is leaving “This Week” and Washington.
“I love my job. I love ‘This Week,’ Ali [Wentworth, his wife] and I and the girls love Washington.”
Stephanopoulos expects to host the Sunday show for another six weeks or so, until a replacement is named. He’ll commute to New York on Sunday afternoons and return after Friday’s GMA. The family will move to New York after the school year.
Asked whether passing on Westin’s GMA offer could have meant a drought of further front-office calls, Stephanopoulos says, “Thankfully, I didn’t have to confront that. ‘Good Morning America’ is a really important program and it’s just an honor to be asked to be part of it.”
And as the “Today” show celebrates 14 years as the nation’s number one newscast this week, does Westin think his new team can challenge the venerable NBC News broadcast? “My goal is always to be #1, but more importantly this is a team that can address what the audience cares about first, and foremost.”