Morning Media Newsfeed: Letterman to Retire | Mozilla’s Eich Resigns | Fusion’s TV First

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David Letterman to Leave Late Show (TVNewser)
During the taping of Thursday’s Late Show, David Letterman announced next year will be his last on the show he’s hosted for more than two decades. The news was first reported on Twitter by R.E.M. bassist Mike Mills, a guest on the show, just after 4 p.m. ET. Letterman, who turns 67 next week, signed a contract extension in October. Adweek The duration of the new deal seemed a sure sign that the clock was ticking on Letterman’s late night tenure. Two years prior to signing the extension, the host had agreed to a two-year deal. NYT Letterman said he had informed CBS president Leslie Moonves of his intention to step down from The Late Show at the end of his current contract, which has about 16 months left. A specific end date has not yet been set. Letterman is considered by many to be the most original voice in the late-night format, and Moonves has been steadfast in his assurances in recent years that he would never ask Letterman to retire, saying at one point, “You don’t do that to a television legend.” Mashable Letterman hosted Late Night on NBC from 1982 to 1993 before starting Late Show on CBS in 1993. In 2013, he surpassed Johnny Carson as the longest-running late night talk show host in television history. He has been part of more than 6,000 late-night broadcasts. USA Today It’s unclear how CBS will replace Letterman, and when, precisely. Craig Ferguson, who hosts the Letterman-produced Late Late Show, is not being considered as a replacement, insiders say, even though his contract technically promises it. Moonves is known to have been interested in The Daily Show‘s Jon Stewart over the years, but in the past Stewart has said he is not interested in a network talk show. Stewart’s Comedy Central partner Stephen Colbert is seen as a more likely candidate, and is available sooner: His contract with Comedy Central expires in December, though Stewart is free in 2015. Chelsea Handler also announced plans to leave her late-night E! show this year.

Mozilla Co-Founder Brendan Eich Resigns as CEO, Leaves Foundation Board (Re/code)
Brendan Eich, the well-known techie who has gotten swept up in a controversy about his support of California’s anti-gay marriage law Proposition 8, is resigning as CEO of for-profit Mozilla Corporation and also from the board of the nonprofit foundation which wholly owns it. NYT / Bits Once Eich’s support for Proposition 8 became public, the reaction was swift, with a level of disapproval that the company feared was becoming a threat to its reputation and business. For example, OkCupid, a popular online dating service, set up a letter, visible to those visiting its site on Firefox, that castigated the chief executive. “Mozilla’s new CEO, Brendan Eich, is an opponent of equal rights for gay couples,” the letter said. “We would therefore prefer that our users not use Mozilla software to access OkCupid.” The letter, which has since been removed, concluded that “those who seek to deny love and instead enforce misery, shame and frustration are our enemies, and we wish them nothing but failure.”

Fusion Names Author Ryan Nerz TV’s First Chief Cannabis Correspondent (Fusion)
Fusion has named acclaimed author and journalist Ryan Nerz as the first ever network chief cannabis correspondent. Nerz will contribute regularly to Fusion’s digital and TV platforms, exploring answers to the biggest questions surrounding cannabis culture and the booming industry evolving around it. FishbowlNY The Yale-educated, Brooklyn-based contributor to NPR, Esquire, The History Channel and other outlets is also the author of last year’s Marijuanamerica. Under the new arrangement, Nerz will be expanding his Fusion TV segments The Cannabusiness Report into a series of longer half-hours. TVNewser Nerz’s hire comes a few months after the legalization of recreational marijuana in two states: Colorado and Washington. Nine other states allow medical marijuana use and decriminalize recreational use. In November, The Denver Post named entertainment reporter Ricardo Baca to the marijuana beat. The coverage of cannabis has also been a boon to networks like CNBC, which have generated strong ratings for documentaries on the subject. THR Over the past several months, Nerz developed the Cannabusiness series through various segments on Fusion’s then-morning show Fusion Live, which currently airs in primetime. “Marijuana legalization is an issue that is taking on increasing relevance — politically, economically and culturally — and requires the kind of coverage that only someone with Ryan’s expertise can deliver,” said Fusion CEO Isaac Lee.

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Star-Ledger Cuts 167 Jobs, Including 40 Newsroom Positions (The Star-Ledger)
In a grim day of reckoning at New Jersey’s largest newspaper, the owners of The Star-Ledger said Thursday they were eliminating the jobs of approximately 167 people, including 25 percent of the newsroom. FishbowlNY The layoffs will mean the paper will be out 40 of its 156 reporters, editors, photographers and other various staffers. The massive layoffs were not surprising, with the announcement last week of the creation of NJ Advance Media to provide content, advertising and marketing services to all the newspapers owned by Advance Publications in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. HuffPost The Star-Ledger reported that the cuts come as the newspaper tries to reduce costs and consolidates operations with “sister publications” in New Jersey, as well as, which is its online home. It added that beyond the layoffs, a “parade of people” have left in recent weeks. NYT The news came the day after Digital First Media, which owns 75 newspapers across the U.S., announced that it would eliminate about 50 jobs and end a project intended to centralize national and international news for its publications.

Crackle Lands Ray, King Kong, Other NBCUniversal Films (THR)
Sony-backed Crackle is bolstering its library of film titles through an exclusive licensing deal with NBCUniversal Television and New Media Distribution. The deal will give Crackle’s ad-supported streaming service access to more than 140 titles over the next three years. Among the films coming to Crackle are Colin Farrell’s Miami Vice reboot, the Jake Gyllenhaal war drama Jarhead, Naomi Watts’ King Kong remake and the Jamie Foxx biopic Ray. New titles are rolling out on the service starting April 3. Mashable Sony’s investment in Crackle and its willingness to spend the money to acquire exclusive rights to content indicate a willingness to go against the grain of other streaming sites like Netflix and Hulu, which work primarily on subscription models. This makes Crackle something of a hybrid, operating as a streaming service but making deals like a television channel. Variety Crackle, available in 21 countries, focuses on male-centric genres such as action, comedy, crime, horror and sci-fi. Original programming on the service includes Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, Crackle’s most popular series. Other originals include psychological thriller Chosen, starring Chad Michael Murray and Rose McGowan; crime-action drama Cleaners, with David Arquette and Gina Gershon; and Extraction, a 90-minute actioner starring Danny Glover as a black-ops agent.

Liberty Media to Reduce Barnes & Noble Stake (WSJ)
John Malone’s Liberty Media Corp. reached an agreement to sell most of its roughly 17 percent stake in Barnes & Noble Inc., cashing out of the bookseller’s stock following a winter rally on improving sentiment about the company’s performance. Liberty Media will lose the right to name two representatives to the board of the bookseller. But in a sign of how fragile that sentiment is, the stock fell 13.5 percent Thursday on news of the influential media investor’s sale. Reuters The sale ends a nearly three-year bet that the struggling retailer would emerge as a dominant seller of eBooks. The sale of Liberty’s shares, expected to close April 8, means the departure of one of the bookseller’s biggest investors, as well as the exit of Liberty Media chief executive Greg Maffei, a respected dealmaker, from Barnes & Noble’s board. NYT / DealBook Last summer, Barnes & Noble’s chief executive and the architect of its digital strategy, William Lynch, abruptly resigned. Nook sales dropped more than 50 percent in the most recent fiscal quarter from a year ago. After the Nook failed to take off, efforts to split off the digital business from the company’s retail stores faltered and Liberty concluded it had little interest in owning a stake in a declining brick and mortar operation. GalleyCat “By reducing our preferred position and eliminating some of our related rights, Barnes & Noble will gain greater flexibility to accomplish their strategic objectives,” said Maffei.

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