Al Jazeera America today announced its first four news anchors, including Richelle Carey, former weekday anchor for CNN’s HLN. Carey will join Jonathan Betz, Morgan Fogarty and Del Walters presenting live news throughout the day from Al Jazeera America’s studio in New York City. Betz is a former field reporter and fill-in anchor at the ABC affiliate station in Dallas. Fogarty was the main 10 PM anchor at the CW affiliate in Charlotte, NC. Walters spent more than two decades as an anchor at the ABC affiliate in Washington, D.C. Back in January, Al Jazeera coughed up a reported $500 million to buy Al Gore’s little-watched Current TV and replace it with Al Jazeera America, which is scheduled to launch next month, funded by the government of Qatar.
Al Jazeera America confirmed this morning it had signed a deal with former CNN star Soledad O’Brien to contribute to the network as “special correspondent.” O’Brien’s production company, Starfish Media Group will produce hourlong documentary specials for the cable network. “I look forward to beginning a relationship with Al Jazeera America, which has made a commitment to producing quality programming and pursuing underreported stories,” O’Brien said in the announcement, confirming speculation that started last week. As a correspondent, O’Brien will contribute short-form segments to the primetime current affairs mag America Tonight on the new network, which is funded by the government of Qatar.
O’Brien stepped down from CNN in March when network chief Jeff Zucker scrubbed her program Starting Point; he gave the time slot to Chris Cuomo’s New Day. At the time she left CNN, she formed Starfish Media, which, in addition to the production deal with Al Jazeera America, now also has a production deal with CNN, and development deals at HBO and National Geographic Channel.
Things got a little too warm when Al Gore took to the stage at the SXSW Interactive festival Saturday to talk about The Future — that is, his new book subtitled Six Drivers Of Global Change as well as …
UPDATE, 4 PM: Current TV CEO Joel Hyatt just confirmed the sale in a memo to staffers. “Getting this transaction done was very difficult,” he writes. (Read the network’s official statement after the original break of the story.) Since Time Warner Cable would not consent to the sale “Current will no longer be carried on TWC. This is unfortunate, but I am confident that Al Jazeera America will earn significant additional carriage in the months and years ahead.” Time Warner Cable says that it is “removing the service as quickly as possible.” The loss of the No. 2 cable operator will hurt: Time Warner Cable has 12.2M video subscribers and Current reaches about 59M homes. Others also could follow Time Warner Cable’s lead as they look to prune their often bloated channel lineups. Al Jazeera has fought an uphill battle to win carriage on U.S. cable systems. Operators say it’s too expensive, and that there’s too little interest in the subjects it covers. Fans of the channel say it’s due to unreasonable fears that Al Jazeera’s content will be too controversial and possibly propagandistic. Al Jazeera fought back, and further infuriated cable execs, by live-streaming its English-language programming.
Al Gore once stood on the podium accepting the Democratic Party’s nominations for both Vice-President and President. This year, the former VP will be up in the skybox reporting on both the DNC and the RNC for Current TV. The channel Gore co-founded made the announcement today:
New York, NY, August 8, 2012 – Vice President Al Gore will be leading Current TV’s coverage of the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. Coverage of the Republican National Convention (RNC) begins August 27th from 7pm – 11pm EST and will continue for all four nights, concluding on August 30th. Coverage of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) begins on September 4th from 7pm – 11pm EST and will conclude on September 6th. Vice President Gore will be joined by former Michigan Governor and “The War Room” host, Jennifer Granholm, former New York Governor and “Viewpoint” host, Eliot Spitzer and “The Young Turks” host, Cenk Uygur. Additionally, California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom will join the panel for the RNC coverage.
Current TV will feature reporting with real-time analysis and detailed coverage of the 2012 conventions. David Shuster and Michael Shure will report from both conventions. Also contributing will be new Current TV hosts Joy Behar and John Fugelsang. “I’m pleased to be participating in Current TV’s impressive line-up throughout the Republican and Democratic National Conventions,” said Vice President Al Gore. “Cenk, Jennifer and Eliot provide the keen insight and spot-on analysis our viewers have come to expect, combined with decades of experience in public service and a deep understanding of politics. I have no doubt that our coverage will be innovative and informative, and I look forward to working with them.”
Current California Lieutenant Governor and longtime liberal talking head Gavin Newsom has landed his own show on Current TV. The former San Francisco mayor, who briefly ran for California governor in 2009, will host the weekly …
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
UPDATE, 12:45 PM: Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm will anchor The War Room from San Francisco so she and her husband can continue with their temporary appointments teaching at the University of California at Berkeley. She’ll also continue to appear on Meet The Press. Granholm says her show will focus primarily on politics and public policy with a special focus on “solutions to the most pressing problems out there.” But she hopes to leven the mix by regularly featuring contributions from satirist Brett Erlich as well as viewer-generated content such as videos from the campaign trail. Granholm describes herself as being “on the left end of the spectrum” but with views that were shaped by her experience as “a pragmatic governor.” Current co-founder Al Gore says that he’ll appear from time to time on the network’s shows, including Granholm’s — and may participate in coverage of election news events. Although Granholm has no experience as a talk show host, the former vice president says he’s confident that she’ll be a fast learner: “If she had not been born in Canada, she’d be a leading candidate for president,” he says.
Here’s Current’s release:
The addition of The Young Turks is part of a larger plan to turn Current TV into an all-news network — described by CEO Joel Hyatt as “a new news network for a new kind of news viewer.” The channel’s chairman, former Vice President Al Gore, added in a brief press conference that “you won’t have to wait that long” for an announcement about another on-air hire. It would likely be for a show to follow Countdown With Keith Olbermann, which airs at 8 PM ET. Uygur says that he will continue to host his two-hour daily show on YouTube in addition to his new one on Current, which he descibes as “a gathering place for progressives to meet and discuss the issues of the day.” The network says it has no ratings target for the show, which will be broadcast from Los Angeles. Here’s the release about Uygur’s new show:
Following last month’s executive shakeup at Current TV in which CEO Mark Rosenthal abruptly resigned and was replaced by co-founder Joel Hyatt, the fledgling cable network has hired veteran news executive David Bohrman as president. Bohrman, who starts immediately, …