GMA EPs: For Jim Murphy, A “Spectacular” Opportunity In Morning News

By Brian 

Last fall, after six years as EP of the CBS Evening News, Jim Murphy wanted a “new challenge.” CBS News offered him a job elsewhere in the division, but he turned it down, in favor of other opportunities.

Then a couple of months ago, one of those other opportunities arrived — a “spectacular” one, as he put it in an interview with TVNewser this afternoon.

It was an opportunity to head up Good Morning America — ABC’s second-place morning show. EP Ben Sherwood announced his resignation on June 2, and potential replacements didn’t waste any time jockeying for the position.

“A lot of really good people in this industry, inside and outside of ABC News, wanted these jobs,” Murphy said.

Today, ABC News announced that Murphy will fill a newly-created role as senior executive producer GMA beginning in September. He’ll be joined by Tom Cibrowski, who will serve as executive producer.

Murphy says ABC is “adding some leadership resources to a very big operation.” Bty adding another layer of leadership, ABC is following its competitors. NBC placed Phil Griffin above Jim Bell in April 2005, and CBS placed Steve Friedman above Early Show senior executive producer Michael Bass in March 2006. The staffing model is an acknowledgment of how important morning shows have become.

“They’ve become much more complicated programs than they were ten years ago,” Murphy said.

He said the morning time slot “seems to be where it’s at,” adding, “more and more people are gravitating toward working on morning news.”

Murphy joined CBS News as a segment producer for “CBS This Morning” in 1993. A year later, he was the show’s executive producer. Now at ABC, he hopes to make GMA #1 “by making sure that GMA sticks to the game they’ve been playing, being the best at breaking news in the morning.”

Cibrowski expressed a similar sentiment. “We’re not going to wake up every morning and panic about ratings,” he said, “we’re just going to do the best show we can.” And the ratings, he hopes, will follow the quality.

Cibrowski told B&C that he expects to add several personalities, including a “male presence,” to GMA. The biggest X factor going forward will be Diane Sawyer‘s status. Many observers assume she will say goodbye to GMA in 2007. But when asked about her potential departure, Murphy responded: “It’s never come up in a conversation with me and I never expect it to.”

Murphy called Sawyer “one of the greatest broadcast journalists of all time,” and he said “it excites the hell out of me to work with her.”

For how long?

“I expect Diane to be here forever,” he said. “She’s a spectacular leader for GMA, and I hope we can make sure we put her in the position she deserves to be in, which is #1.”