Koppel’s One-Night-Only on BBC…Or Is It?

By Gail Shister 

Gail Shister
TVNewser Columnist

It’s only a one-shot deal, but Ted Koppel could become a more regular presence on BBC America, says executive producer Rome Hartman.

A Lancashire lad, Koppel will make his “BBC World News America” debut at 7 p.m. next Wednesday. The ABC expat will analyze the previous day’s “Super Tuesday” results, with Matt Frei anchoring.

“In the best of all worlds, Ted would be an occasional contributing analyst,” says Hartman. Wednesday “is only a one-time deal, of course, but if you’re me, you hope it turns into something more.”

Hartman, exiled EP of Katie Couric‘s “CBS Evening News,” labels Koppel as “one of the smartest, best journalists in America. If he feels like having a little fun and wants to do it again, it would be my dream come true.”

Dream on, Rome. With Koppel already senior news analyst for NPR and managing editor for the Discovery Channel, we’re guessing he’s not looking to increase his workload.

Then again, Koppel being Koppel, he might surprise us. Particularly since Tom Bettag, his EP and best bud, goes back two decades with Hartman.

In the late ’80’s, Hartman was White House producer and Bettag EP for “CBS Evening News.” For Hartman, Bettag “was the best boss I ever had.”

With “World News America’s” 10-person Washington staff — “Evening News” had about 150 — “we’re not nearly where we want to be,” Hartman says. “We’re peddling as hard as we can down here, and we’re going in the right direction.”

Since launching the newscast four months ago, Hartman has traveled to the BBC mothership in London every six weeks. His biggest adjustment: Learning the new TV lingo.

For the Brits, a voice-over is an “O.O.V.” (“Out of vision.”) A stand-up, “piece to camera.” (Huh?) And when the show hits the road, it’s “O.B.” (“Outside broadcast.”)

It’s getting easier, Hartman says, “but my kids made me promise not to adopt a British accent.”