PREVIOUSLY: Barbara Walters landed the girlfriend and the wife involved in the hottest story right now, but CNN’s Anderson Cooper scored the sit-down today with the big fish – disgraced LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling, who was caught last month making racist comments about African-Americans and hoops icon Magic Johnson in a 2013 tape. He was subsequently banned for life from the NBA and fined $2.5M. Sunday’s news battle pitted Sterling vs. Sterling as CNN and ABC News vied to take the lead on the hottest story of the moment.
Weekly Column: People who work in the media are deeply divided into two factions right now: those who think TV news operations have lost their minds with their coverage of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, and those believe there’s no such thing as too much when it comes to this Practically Perfect TV News Story that has held viewers spellbound for nearly two weeks and potentially launched a few new TV careers, despite a pesky lack of actual information. And while few things in this world are more painful than the realization that an estrangement has occurred between colleagues who for years have jogged along through life sharing the same views on the relative importance of TV news, the uselessness of overnight ratings, the urgency of attracting millennials (or at least viewers under 50) and how great House Of Cards is, the divide has been interesting to watch play out.
In the interest of accuracy, viewers actually have learned a lot watching coverage of the missing plane story. They now have useful information about the relative ease of boarding an international flight in Malaysia with a stolen passport, which may inform future vacation-making plans. Better still, they’ve learned where Malaysia is on a map, its proximity to Australia, and the depth of the Indian Ocean. They know how much they could get on the open market for a used Boeing 777. Security experts have told them they’re not alone in suspecting that a steward armed with an aisle-blocking beverage cart is not a terribly effective way to thwart a would-be plane hijacker during a pilot potty break. They now know what a “C block” is in the TV news biz thanks to Fox News star Megyn Kelly, who joked to NYT reporter Michael Schmidt, “Way to hold it right until the C block, Michael!” the other night when he was her guest — but waited to give her his scoop (that its first path-diverting turn was done by a computer system programmed in the cockpit) until later in her program so it would first break on his paper’s website.
Viewers love this story because it’s jammed with mystery, and pathos, and taps into their fear of flying — like Lost. So many had suggested it resembled the setup of the ABC serialized hit that a plan to screen the pilot during last weekend’s 10-year reunion panel at PaleyFest was scrubbed, out of consideration for the families of the missing passengers and crew. Last Sunday, CNN’s Don Lemon wondered, “Especially today, on a day when we deal with the supernatural — we go to church, the supernatural power of God…people are saying to me, ‘Why aren’t you talking about the possibility — and I’m just putting it out there — that something odd happened to this plane, something beyond our understanding?’ ”
Anderson Cooper Edges Out Bill O’Reilly In Demo Last Night As Malaysia Airlines Mystery Grabs Viewers
Any time CNN beats Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly it’s news — Anderson Cooper did it last night in the news demo. His Anderson Cooper 360 logged 431,000 demo viewers at 8 PM; The O’Reilly Factor clocked an average of 386,000 in the 25-54 age bracket. In overall audience O’Reilly continued to dominate with 2.81 million viewers — laps ahead of AC360′s 972,000. And, in primetime overall, FNC maintained its first-place demo status with 360,000 viewers, to CNN’s 309,000.
CNN has been garnering some stronger-than-usual numbers the past couple days as the mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 grips viewers. Last night’s AC360 demo results were its best since October 16, 2013 when Cooper posted 466,000 demo viewers during the Senate vote to end the government shutdown.
CNN chief Jeff Zucker, who has vowed to shake up the network’s primetime this year, will experiment with several formats at 10 PM for five weeks. Don Lemon debuts on Monday — this time as anchor of The Don Lemon Show, leading into another new program called Making The Case at 10:30 PM. It’s Lemon’s second recent audition, having hosted the 11 PM program 11th Hour during Erin Burnett’s maternity leave last year. Lemon inserted himself into the Michael Dunn trial in a small way, when he announced he was “pissed” at the “ridiculous” jury’s inability to reach a decision in re whether Dunn was guilty of “murdering a teenager because his music was too damn loud.” Fox News’ Gregg Jarrett took the bait, saying in a series of tweets that “the sum total of what Lemon knows about the law and this case… could be written on the head of a pin” with plenty of room left over, to which Lemon responded, “Wow, someone is suffering from a bad case of the Michael Dunns. Guess my TV’s too loud…Mind your business old man.” (Jarrett is about 11 years older than Lemon.)
On Tuesdays, CNN will telecast one-hour special reports at 10 PM and on Wednesdays will present Death Row Stories. CNN’s docu-series Chicagoland airs Thursdays in the hour, and on Fridays is CNN Spotlight followed by Unguarded With Rachel Nichols. AC360 repeats are back at 11 PM Monday through Thursday, with Friday home to Death Row Stories in the hour. The five-week schedule was first reported on TVNewser.
UPDATE: ‘Duck Dynasty’s’ Willie Robertson Creates Quandary For TV Reporters Covering President Obama’s State Of Union Address
UPDATE, 7:41 PM: Depending on who you ask, the most sought-after photo op during tonight’s State of the Union address wasn’t with that guy from the Oval Office. It was Duck Dynasty‘s Willie Robertson (and sometime his wife and co-star Korie) that led many lawmakers to bust out their smartphones to post a pic or grab some social media bragging rights. Here are just a couple of examples:
— Lindsey Graham (@GrahamBlog) January 28, 2014
— Alan Nunnelee (@RepAlanNunnelee) January 29, 2014
PREVIOUS, 6:55 PM: The arrival of Duck Dynasty star Willie Robertson at the House chamber where President Barack Obama is delivering his fifth State of the Union Address tonight caused something of a quandary for those journalists trying to cover the event.
Over at CNN, Jake Tapper was positioned where the Washington glitterati enter the hall, in order to stand and applaud – or to not stand and applaud – at various points during Obama’s speech. After noting some of the Supreme Court justices had just walked by him, and that, in the past, there’d been talk as to whether they should even attend the pep rally, Tapper threw to Dana Bash, up in the gallery. She told Tapper that what she was about to describe was “more surreal and bizarre” than even Supreme Court justices because “what I’m looking at now, Willie Robertson is one –”
“I’m sorry to interrupt a discussion of Duck Dynasty,” Tapper broke in, convincing no one. He’d cut her off because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and VPOTUS Joe Biden were walking by him at that very moment and needed to be seen by viewers nationwide. “But, Dana, sorry, you were talking about one of the stars of Duck Dynasty,” Tapper concluded, like he meant it to sting.
UTA apparently sees big business opportunities ahead for TV news personalities after picking up an agency whose client list includes Bill O’Reilly, Anderson Cooper, Robin Roberts, Megyn Kelly, Bob Scheiffer, Norah O’Donnell, and Glenn Beck. The changes at the operations will mostly be felt internally for now: N.S. Bienstock will keep its name and, as the companies put it, its “corporate identity, location and corporate ethos with the entire leadership team and agents remaining in place.” Founders Richard Leibner and Carole Cooper will continue to manage it as co-presidents, and will also become special advisers to UTA. Jonathan Leibner and Adam Leibner are now partners at UTA, but will continue to work at Bienstock. UTA Managing Director Jay Sures will oversee the relationship. “As the entertainment, media, news and technology industries comingle in new and exciting ways, we see tremendous potential for broadcast news talent across every conceivable media platform.” says UTA CEO Jeremy Zimmer, whose company has been looking for opportunities to expand in the Big Apple. Richard Leibner says the alliance “is a significant step forward in the growth and evolution of N.S. Bienstock.” The companies say that Bienstock clients “will now have access to UTA’s full breadth of resources, including new opportunities across digital content platforms, motion pictures, scripted television, online entertainment, video gaming, books, theatre, touring, branding, licensing, endorsements, voiceovers and speaking engagements.”
Roseanne Barr Slams NBC, Anderson Cooper & Hollywood In Twitter Rant: “I’m Never Going To Work In Television Again”
Roseanne Barr might not be heading back to primetime after all, according to the comedienne’s own Thanksgiving weekend Twitter rant. Earlier this year NBC set Barr to develop and star in a new sitcom co-written with Nurse Jackie showrunner Linda Wallem, but in a series of Tweets over the holiday Barr made her discontent with that project known. “I’m never going to work in television again. I’m never going to even attempt it,” she Tweeted. Without naming Wallem specifically, Barr wrote of a female showrunner who disappeared on her for seven weeks and turned in a script she didn’t like:
“[The] development process went like this: show runner disappeared for 7 weeks-never returned any calls from me-I was told she ‘goes in2 a cave’. I was also told that this was ‘her process’-and that the result would be fantastic. I asked why I had been removed totally from the process. They had less than no interest in including me in the development of a show that was built on ‘my brand’. It was horrible, but I kept on bc i kept on bc I had 2 C it thru-out of a bizarre interest in the insane outcome. The script didn’t resonate with me-I tried 2 b kind about it There were hardly any jokes in the script, and I didn’t connect with the characters at all. My family told me 2 quit-I kept on trying.”
To the surprise of no one, CNN has re-upped Anderson Cooper through the next presidential election cycle. Ratings on his 8 PM AC 360 are up 28% in the news demo, though viewers continue to elude his 10 PM program AC 360 Later, which is down 14% over year-ago time-slot status. More important to CNN, Cooper’s one of the strongest on-air-talent brands in all of TV news, with an incredible knack for making himself part of the storyline. Just recently Cooper juggled two such career-boosting scenarios simultaneously, when he got into a war of words with the wife of the Philippine Interior Secretary over this characterization of the Philippine government’s response to typhoon devastation, while also spitballing Alec Baldwin over the MSNBC host’s latest homophobic rant.
That brand-building talent has not gone unnoticed. Deadline reported in March that NBC execs approached Cooper about joining ratings-hungry Today, to replace Matt Lauer (NBC News denied the report as it pertained to replacing Lauer, but acknowledged to other news outlets it conducts exploratory talks with various talent outside the network).
Tapping into viewer interest that gets ginned up around the start of the broadcast network TV season, Jeff Zucker’s CNN announced this morning it’ll launch some of its most interesting new programs on Monday, September 16. That’s the week walking up to the start of the broadcast TV network’s official 2013-14 TV season, and a week in which some of the broadcasters’ new products are unveiling. CNN’s most anticipated new series, a half-hour remake of Crossfire, debuts that Monday, September 16 at 6:30 PM ET – which, in one of those incredible coincidences, is the same night ABC launches the remake of its dance competition series Dancing With The Stars.
It’s also the same night Fox unveils its remake of Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleep Hollow, in which Ichabod Crane is now a badass action hero, returned to save us from apocalypse. Similarly, this time Crossfire stars Newt Gingrich. Joining him: Stephanie Cutter, S.E. Cupp and Van Jones. CNN said the show will “resemble the show’s original format with passionate conversation” – or, as Jon Stewart called it back in 2004, “partisan hackery” that was “hurting America.” CNN, understandably, focused on Crossfire having “cemented its status in the political and cultural lexicon” when President Bill Clinton joked during his remarks at the 1997 White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner that the newly opened Newseum featured an exhibit with “CNN’s very first Crossfire: from the …
CNN chief Jeff Zucker’s claim he’d struck the right balance with George Zimmerman trial coverage rings true with viewers, if not TV critics, this week: his network won Monday primetime among 25-54 year-olds who are the currency of news programming ad sales with programs featuring exclusive interviews with two key figures in the trial. At 9 PM, Piers Morgan Live was cable news’ top-rated programming in the demo. The show featured Morgan’s interview with Rachel Jeantel – the last person to speak to unarmed teen Trayvon Martin before Zimmerman killed him with a shot to the heart. An average of 678,000 viewers in the age bracket watched her tell Morgan that Martin feared Zimmerman was following him because he “might be a rapist.” That’s Morgan’s biggest audience of that age since his show launched in ’11. (FNC competitor Hannity logged 424,000 viewers in the demo and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow snared 263,000).
At 10 PM, Anderson Cooper’s exclusive interview with juror B37 on AC360 scored cable news the second biggest haul of the night in the demo. An average of 576,000 viewers heard her tell Cooper she thought Zimmerman’s “heart was in the right place” during the incident that led to Martin’s death. Cooper interviewed the juror at 8 PM as well, averaging 474,000 viewers in the key age group, to finish just behind Bill O’Reilly’s 478,000.
Ratings-hungry CNN is tinkering with its primetime lineup, adding an Anderson Cooper-hosted special beginning tonight at 10 PM that wraps up each day’s George Zimmerman murder trial activities. Self-Defense Or Murder? The George Zimmerman Trial will bump Cooper’s AC360 repeats to 11. Tonight, Cooper will be joined by Mark Geragos, Marsha Clark and Jeffrey Toobin, dissecting the day’s opening statements and testimony. The murder trial has already made news, though not what you might have expected — and not in any way that will help CNN’s ratings. MSNBC today apologized for telecasting, live, the opening statements of prosecutor John Guy, which included a quote from the defendant in which was used one of Those Words That Get the FCC’s Undies in a Bunch and which, according to The Reporters Who Cover the FCC’s Bunched Undies, was followed by another use of the word later in the morning. MSNBC has promised to use a delay going forward.
Another week and another announcement from Jeff Zucker’s ratings-challenged CNN. As of tonight, Anderson Cooper 360 is being moved out of its 10 PM repeat slot for (Get To) The Point. The move follows the soft-rated launch of The Lead With Jake Tapper two weeks ago and the naming on March 28 of Kate Bolduan to co-host the upcoming CNN morning show this spring with Chris Cuomo. CNN says that the Donny Deutsch-led Point will run for only a week, but a source tells me the fate of the panel show could change quickly depending on viewer response. ESPN columnist Rick Reilly, author Margaret Hoover and ESPN NFL analyst Jason Taylor will also appear. The AC 360 encore, which has been repeating after Piers Morgan’s interview show since July 2011, will be shown at 11 PM for the next week, CNN says.
Embattled Today anchor Matt Lauer, already the focus of blistering criticism for the ouster of co-anchor Ann Curry and the ratings slide at NBC‘s morning show, has long been rumored to be on the chopping block — despite his $25 million contract and recent efforts aimed at rehabilitating his image. Here’s the latest wrinkle: I hear NBC toppers recently reached out to CNN’s Anderson Cooper to replace Lauer on the show before the end of the year. After their initial approach to Cooper, I hear NBC reached out to Lauer to get his blessing about the changeover. But I heard they got pushback from the Today veteran, who contacted Cooper to express his disapproval. I also hear that call caught Cooper by surprise, as he had assumed Lauer had been brought on board before NBC began making overtures. Cooper has been one of the leading faces at CNN, though I hear his contract has an out, and he previously was able to do his syndicated daytime talk show in addition to his CNN program.
Cooper’s is just the latest name to be rumored to replace Lauer, who inked a long-term contract last year. Ryan Seacrest, current Today co-host Willie Geist and Meet The Press host David Gregory have all been reportedly considered by NBC. Lauer, meanwhile, has …
EXCLUSIVE: Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin may make their popular New Year’s Eve specials a regular thing. I hear the duo filmed a pilot today at the CNN studios in the Time Warner Center in New York. Details about the hourlong project are sketchy, but I’ve learned that it had a lot of humor in it and filmed in front of a live audience — which I hear included new CNN topper Jeff Zucker. While it is unclear whether the project is definitely for CNN, Zucker has been looking to shake things up at the ratings-challenged cable news network by adding more mainstream entertainment fare. The annual New Year’s Eve pairing of Cooper and Griffin draws solid ratings and generates a lot of headlines with racy moments like Griffin getting up close and personal with Cooper’s private parts this year. It is also unclear how the new project would fit in with Griffin’s weekly talk show on Bravo, where the comedian has been a fixture for almost a decade and has won two best reality program Emmys for her series My Life On The D-List.
NBC’s Smash and CBS’ The Amazing Race were honored tonight at the 24th GLAAD Media Awards in New York City. Smash was named best drama series and Amazing Race took the nod for best reality series. How To Survive A Plague, a film chronicling the rise of activism in the early years of AIDS, was named best documentary.
Dressed as a Boy Scout, Madonna presented the previously announced Vito Russo Award to CNN’s Anderson Cooper. Russo, who died in 1990, was a film historian who voiced concerns about how gays and lesbians are portrayed in the media. Movie director Brett Ratner received GLAAD’s inaugural Ally Award. The award for Ratner represented a turnaround from a little over a year ago when he dropped out as producer of last year’s Academy Awards after joking at an early press conference that “rehearsing is for fags”. Ratner since worked with the group to produce a public service campaign, GLAAD Coming Out For Equality.
A list of last night’s awards follows.
Brian Williams & Dan Patrick Considered For Alex Trebek Replacement On ‘Jeopardy’, Matt Lauer & Anderson Cooper Also In Mix
Sony Pictures TV is casting a wide net in its search for a successor to Alex Trebek as host of one of the studio’s top properties, veteran game show Jeopardy!. I have learned that NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams and NBC Sports personality Dan Patrick are among those approached by the studio, along with embattled Today show co-host Matt Lauer and CNN’s Anderson Cooper. I hear all four have had exploratory conversations with Sony TV, though the studio is not actively pursuing anyone at the moment.
Sony TV’s succession plan for Jeopardy! became a hot topic today after the NY Post reported on Lauer and Cooper being in the mix for the job. With the exception of Patrick, who has presented at the Super Bowl and during the Summer Olympics, Jeopardy! would mark a step up in the ratings department for any of the candidates. Yesterday, Jeopardy! was the No. 1 program on any network among households in the nation’s top market, New York, where Williams, Lauer and Cooper are based. Jeopardy! averaged a 10.0 household rating, edging CBS’ primetime blockbuster The Big Bang Theory (9.1). Lauer’s Today drew less that a third of that, a 2.9 rating. Of course, hosting a syndicated game show, which often films a whole season worth of episodes in a stretch of a couple of months, could be a second job for a top anchor as proven by Meredith Vieira, who juggled hosting Who Wants To Be A Millionaire with her duties on The View and then Today.