‘Worst Persons’ Producer David Sarosi Tapped to Helm Current TV’s ‘Countdown’

By Alex Weprin 

Former MSNBC host and soon-to-be Current TV host Keith Olbermann has announced the production team for “Countdown.”

The show will be helmed by new executive producer David Sarosi. Sarosi had been a producer on the MSNBC edition of “Countdown,” where he produced the program open and the show’s infamous “Worst Persons in the World” segments.

“Countdown” is also adding a handful of other producers, as well as a director. The new additions come from his old MSNBC show, CNN and MLB Network, among other places.


More information on those hires in the official announcement, after the jump.




Christopher Ballante Tapped as “Countdown” Director; Joel Schwartzberg Becomes Digital Executive Producer

Katy Ramirez Karp Joins as Senior Booking Producer; Joe Lapointe Joins As Segment Producer

Live From Studio 33, “Countdown With Keith Olbermann” Debuts on Current TV on June 20th, Airing Each Week Night at 8 p.m. ET

NEW YORK – MAY 31, 2011 – Current TV – the Peabody and Emmy Award winning, independently owned cable and satellite TV network – has appointed David Sarosi as Executive Producer of “Countdown With Keith Olbermann,” the much-anticipated news and commentary program which will debut on June 20th.  Sarosi was a key member of Olbermann’s “Countdown” team at MSNBC, and will now lead an experienced staff of producers of the live TV show every week night at 8 p.m. ET and in its web form at www.currrent.com/countdown.

“Nobody knows what “Countdown” should be, more than Dave Sarosi,” said Olbermann, host of “Countdown” and Chief News Officer at Current, in announcing the appointments. “For most of its last five years, he produced the old show’s two most essential segments – the program ‘open’ with its signature question ‘Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?’ and ‘Worst Persons in the World.’ He’s intimately familiar with every other aspect of the production, and from his start with the show he has had both the vision, and the view of the playing field, critical for an Executive Producer. I’m delighted we’ll again be able to work together.”

In addition to his five years with Olbermann at MSNBC, Sarosi also worked with him as part of that network’s Special Coverage team, assigned to breaking news stories, political primary and election coverage, and Presidential debates.

Among the other journalism veterans assuming senior positions with the “Countdown” team are three Senior Producers, including:

Leslie Bella-Henry, who is joining as Senior Producer after spending the last decade at CNN as a Senior Producer for “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” where she earned an Emmy Award, as well as for “Moneyline with Lou Dobbs.”  She contributed to several of CNN’s honors, including the Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Award, multiple Peabody Awards and the National Headliner Award.

Bob Lilly, who becomes Senior Segment Producer at “Countdown.” Most recently, Mr. Lilly helped manage satellite coverage of the Haiti earthquake and co-produced a short film on nuclear disarmament for the United Nations. He has been a journalist and producer in a career spanning more than 30 years. He was the Senior Producer for CNN’s New York Bureau when Olbermann debuted there in 1981, and his new assignment marks the fourth separate time the two have worked together. Lilly produced and with Olbermann co-wrote the acclaimed “Big Show” and “White House In Crisis” shows at MSNBC in 1997-98, and he was the first lead writer when “Countdown” premiered in 2003;

Aaron Volkman has become Senior Producer/Line Producer at “Countdown.”  Volkman has an extensive background as a live control room producer and is a veteran sports journalist.  Volkman joins Current from MLB Network, where he earned an Emmy Award as a producer on “MLB Tonight.” Prior to that, he held senior producer roles at CBS College Sports and ESPN;

Current TV is also announcing the appointment of Christopher Ballante as Director of “Countdown.” Ballante is a 27-year veteran of CNN and directed several shows, including “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” “Larry King Live” and “Anderson Cooper AC360.” Ballante’s experience with Olbermann dates back to the latter’s television debut at CNN from 1981 to 1984. Also while at CNN, Ballante earned two Peabody Awards, an Emmy Award and the Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Award.  He also directed numerous major television events, ranging from music videos for The Rolling Stones and ZZ Top to the Republican and Democratic political conventions.

Other experienced Producers joining “Countdown” include:

Katy Ramirez Karp, who is joining “Countdown” as its Senior Booking Producer, reprising a position she held for more than six years with Olbermann at MSNBC. Before that, she worked as a booking producer for “The News With Brian Williams” and at ABC News’ “Good Morning America”;

Joe Lapointe, who has spent more than 30 years as a sportswriter at The New York Times and also reported for The Detroit Free Press, The Chicago Tribune and the Associated Press, has been hired as a Segment Producer at “Countdown;

Joel Schwartzberg has been appointed Digital Executive Producer for the online presence of “Countdown,” (www.current.com/countown).  He comes to Current following roles as Senior Editor, for PBS Interactive and Director of New Media for PBS’s Emmy Award-winning show, “NOW.”  Prior to PBS, Schwartzberg was an Editorial Director with Time Inc. Interactive.

“These producers, and the other staffers we have not mentioned here, honor me with their presence,” Olbermann added. “They constitute a unique mixture of youth and experience. In Dave Sarosi, Chris Ballante, Bob Lilly, and Katy Ramirez Karp alone, they have known me and/or worked with me for a total of 71 years! I have now been through eight start-ups or just-starteds, and this is easily the most gifted staff I’ve seen assembled to launch such a program.”

“Countdown with Keith Olbermann,” launches June 20th at 8 p.m. ET. It will air live each week night, and be replayed at 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. ET, and it marks the return to the airwaves for Olbermann, one of journalism’s most provocative and outspoken voices, on independently-owned Current.

Olbermann’s decision to join Current was announced in February.

In addition to Olbermann’s distinctive and often controversial commentary, “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” will feature regular contributors, including Ken Burns, Nicole D. Lamoureux, Executive Director, National Association Of Free Clinics, comedian Richard Lewis, film maker Michael Moore, Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas and ten more to be revealed in the coming weeks.

“Countdown with Keith Olbermann” leads a programming slate on Current that includes original and acquired TV series aimed at an influential adult audience.   The network’s original, long-form programming includes ‘Vanguard,” an award-winning documentary series whose 2011 slate will debut after “Countdown” at 9 p.m. ET on June 20; and “4th and Forever,” the documentary series which debuted May 26th and airs Thursday at 9 p.m. ET, about the extraordinary players, coaches and families behind the Long Beach Poly football program (which has sent more players to the NFL than any high school in the country).