Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
The liberal cable stronghold Current TV hosted a breakfast this morning at TCA complete with its very own on-site radio show. The syndicated Stephanie Miller Show was broadcast in the background and simulcast live on Current, as it is every weekday. In fact, the network has ramped up its homegrown live programming significantly since the beginning of the year after losing its signature primetime show hosted by Keith Olbermann (who departed at the end of March in an acrimonious huff, followed in April by the inevitable multi-pronged lawsuit over his termination). The Olbermann situation “is going to be in litigation for the rest of my life,” said Current president David Bohrman with only a trace of exaggeration. But he was wistful about the lingering impact that Olbermann had on the network. “It’s unfortunate (how things ended),” he said, “but Keith was transformative in that when we put his program on, it really showed (Current partners) Joel (Hyatt) and Al (Gore) what we should be doing. And to that end, it was critical. It helped set us on the right path”.
UPDATED: The View co-host Joy Behar will be launching a daily show on Current TV. The program, tentatively titled The Joy Behar Show, will premiere in September and air Monday through Thursday at 6 PM with rebroadcasts later in the evening in primetime. Featuring a regular rotating ensemble of journalists, analysts and political satirists, the program will focus on political events, social issues and pop culture topics.
Veteran comedian Behar will make her debut on the cable channel next week when she will take over for Eliot Spitzer while he is on vacation. She will not be guest hosting his Viewpoint but will be hosting her own show in the time period once occupied by Keith Olbermann. Titled Joy Behar: One Week Only *Until the Fall, the program will air Monday through Friday that week at 8 PM ET and offer a taste of Behar’s upcoming nightly show — featuring conversations with a mix of journalists, newsmakers and celebrities. Behar said her show on Current TV will be similar to her The Joy Behar Show, which she anchored on HLN for two years. “There will be a lot more politics because I’m interested in politics, and they had a different focus at HLN,” Behar said, adding that, in addition to being as political as she is, Current TV also shares her progressive views. She said that he is excited about working with Current TV chairman and former Vice President Al Gore “who didn’t lose the (2000 presidential) election; they just decided that he lost the election.”
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 hourlong talker The Gavin Newsom Show beginning next month. The network said in making the announcement today that the show will have a California focus, interviewing “notables from Silicon Valley, Hollywood and beyond.” Former Forbes and CNN executive Mia Haugen will executive produce. “Gavin Newsom is a courageous leader who has boldly seized every opportunity to create positive social change,” Current TV chairman Al Gore said. “First as a successful entrepreneur, then in his role as Mayor of San Francisco, and now as Lieutenant Governor, Newsom touches many worlds — business, politics, entertainment and activism. We are honored that Current TV will be bringing his curiosity, intelligence, insights and enthusiasm to television.” Current is on the hunt for new voices after the abrupt and nasty departure of network linchpin Keith Olbermann in March. The anchor made good on his word to sue Current and its bosses Gore and Joel Hyatt, claiming breach of contract and that Gore and Hyatt undermined him and ignored his suggestions and concerns about the network. Current’s lineup now includes Eliot Spitzer, Cenk Uygur and Jennifer Granholm.
Conservative media are immensely enjoying the legal combat which erupted last week between Keith Olbermann and Al Gore’s Current TV cable network. The lawsuits and countersuits have prompted headlines like “Epic Ego Fail” to describe Olbermann. But Gore, too, is coming in for ridicule as shown by the Internet illustrations above. “Would anyone like some popcorn as two of the biggest meatheads in cable news duke it out?” wrote Breitbart.com. “One behaves as though he invented broadcasting, the other claims he invented the Internet.” Still another right-wing article hypes the battle between Gore and “favorite lefty TV spokesboor” Olbermann, even claiming the day Olbermann sued the employer (April 5th) ”will henceforth be known among conservatives as ‘National Schadenfreude Day’. … Keith is dissing Al as a goof, which makes Keith what kind of doof for being suckered by him?” For that matter, what kind of dork goes on Letterman and describes himself as “a $10 million chandelier” while detailing what is basically a run-of-the-mill employment dispute. Which prompted the right-wing Washington Times to snark in a headline: “Yes, Olbermann is like a $10 million chandelier: Fragile and vastly overpriced.” Even more to the point, Olbermann’s $70 million lawsuit and Current’s countersuit over his $50 million TV contract confirms conservatives’ worst stereotypes about the left-wing media. It turns out they really are limousine liberals: among examples of Olbermann’s misbehavior, Current cites more than $50,000 spent among 8 limousine companies. And so on.
Much to the glee of the GOP, the legal battle also lays bare the dysfunction inside Current TV run by the former Democraic Vice President Al Gore and his longtime pal Joel Hyatt, who was 2000′s National Finance Chair for the Democratic Party. Liberals wondering why the channel doesn’t get more audience traction only need to read Olbermann’s legal complaint for the answers. Read More »
Keith Olbermann has sued Current TV over his firing from the cable network as anticipated, outlining a litany of complaints about actions taken by Current almost immediately after Olbermann came aboard after leaving MSNBC. The suit, which you can read here, claims Current partners Joel Hyatt and Al Gore undermined Olbermann and ignored his suggestions and concerns about Current.
Among several claims, Olbermann’s suit alleges breach of contract plus breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. Olbermann asserts that Current was beset by technical problems caused by inadequate equipment resulting in failures of news feeds and graphics during broadcasts. Eight months into operations, the suit says, lights continued to fail during live broadcasts. Additionally, Olbermann says his name and likeness were used to promote products, companies or other third parties without his approval or consultation. Olbermann also claims in the suit that the marketing and personnel resources to promote his show were inadequate. Regarding Current’s charges of unauthorized absences and other alleged contractual breaches by Olbermann, the suit contends that the absences were authorized or did not involve contractual obligations.
UPDATE, 2:45 PM: Olbermann’s fighting back: “Keith’s termination is baseless,” his lawyer Patricia Glaser says. “We will sue them for their improper conduct. They made a bad decision. They can expect a bad result.” And here’s Olbermann’s statement, an apology to viewers for joining Current which he says was a “sincere and well-intentioned gesture on my part, but in retrospect a foolish one”:
I’d like to apologize to my viewers and my staff for the failure of Current TV.
Editorially, Countdown had never been better. But for more than a year I have been imploring Al Gore and Joel Hyatt to resolve our issues internally, while I’ve been not publicizing my complaints, and keeping the show alive for the sake of its loyal viewers and even more loyal staff. Nevertheless, Mr. Gore and Mr. Hyatt, instead of abiding by their promises and obligations and investing in a quality news program, finally thought it was more economical to try to get out of my contract.
They’ll join the lineup in early spring with Current offering simulcasts of their radio shows. Full Court Press: The Bill Press Show will run from 6-9 AM ET, and Talking Liberally: The Stephanie Miller Show will follow until noon. Here’s the network’s release:
New York, NY – March 5, 2012 – Current TV today announced the launch of a new morning news block featuring live simulcasts of the radio programs “The Bill Press Show” from 6am-9am ET and “The Stephanie Miller Show” from 9am-12pm ET every weekday starting early this spring. These additions further strengthen Current’s line-up of political commentary and analysis programs which include “Countdown with Keith Olbermann,” “The Young Turks with Cenk Uygur,” and “The War Room with Jennifer Granholm”.
I don’t know why Current avoided calling itself a politically progressive channel with its new ad campaign and slogan: “We Are Politically Direct.” If you’re direct, then why not just say what you are? In any event, here’s the campaign’s first spot for Current’s primetime lineup with Keith Olbermann, Cenk Uygur, and Jennifer Granholm. It’s voiced by actor, activist, and rapper Common, and was created and produced by LA-based Stun Creative Agency:
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
The mercurial Keith Olbermann — who reportedly clashed with his bosses at Current TV last week over whether he would be leading the fledgling network’s election coverage — tellingly wasn’t on hand this afternoon for a Current panel at TCA. Regarding Olbermann’s absence, Current president David Bohrman would say only, “Keith is on vacation.” As for Olbermann’s purported unwillingness to be a part of Current’s campaign coverage, “Keith will do our special election coverage going forward,” Bohrman said. “That’s what we want him to do. That was one of the key reasons he was brought to Current. So I expect that you will see Keith going forward leading our election coverage, and that’s what we want him to do.” When pressed, he added, “I can’t really be much more clear. We had approached Keith to do election coverage a couple of months ago. He declined. We have now been told by Keith that he will lead our coverage going forward and that is what we want to do.”
On another front, Bohrman and Current co-founder Joel Hyatt confirmed to Deadline following the panel that Current UK in England has been dropped from satcaster BSkyB’s subscription tier two months before the contract was up. The withdrawal of funding will force the channel to be shuttered in a move that mirrors the … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: My insiders say there’s finally an agreement tonight between Keith Olbermann and Current TV giving him ”carte blanche” to plan and program the channel’s 2012 election coverage. But the truce doesn’t come in time for Olbermann to do the entire 4-hour block of New Hampshire primary coverage this Tuesday night. Current TV this week wouldn’t give its chief news officer/controversial liberal commentator the time slot, then on Friday night agreed, then refused, and now is blinking yet again. I told you this was going to seesaw throughout the weekend. (See my previous, Will Keith Olbermann Control All Election Coverage On Current TV?)
EXCLUSIVE: This week there was a rift. Then tonight what looked like an outright win for Keith Olbermann over his current employer Current TV. But now the rift is back on after the channel is ”doing a complete 180,” sources tell me. Here’s what happened: Earlier tonight Olbermann was assured by Current TV that it was giving him ”carte blanche” to plan and program and book participants for the entire 4-hour block of New Hampshire GOP presidential primary coverage this coming Tuesday night. And that wasn’t all. “It can be said that Current has seen the light. It can be assumed that Keith will have control over election coverage going forward,” one of my sources assured me. But later tonight Current TV changed its mind and now is refusing to give Olbermann the time slot. Stay tuned. I have a feeling this is going to seesaw throughout the weekend between Current TV and its chief news officer/controversial liberal commentator. Read More »
At issue is whether Keith Olbermann controls the 8 PM (ET) time slot on Current — or just his show, Countdown With Keith Olbermann, which typically fills the hour. I’m told that the commentator and his powerhouse lawyer Patricia Glaser are reviewing his contract to decide how to proceed after Current preempted his show last night to cover the Republican caucuses in Iowa with Al Gore, Jennifer Granholm, and Cenk Uygur. Olbermann isn’t on board yet to contribute to next week’s coverage of the New Hampshire primary, although Current still wants him to participate. But something would have to give: The control issue was a big deal for Olbermann last year when he left MSNBC and joined Current as an anchor and chief news officer. Current also believes that it has the right to shape its coverage of special events, and has a unique opportunity this year to make a splash by having Gore — a former vice president, and the channel’s co-founder – as part of the mix.
The rift has been building since mid-November when Current president David Bohrman broached the idea of having Olbermann lead the network’s team coverage. The commentator opted to have Countdown run per usual and said on his December 22 broadcast that he’d be back after the holidays “live, live, live” for the Iowa caucus results. Olbermann continued with his plan until yesterday when Read More »
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.
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: Read More »
New York, (September 15, 2011) – Current TV, the Peabody and Emmy Award-winning television network, has tapped network news and digital executive Shelley Lewis as Executive Vice President, Programming, for Current TV. Lewis, who most recently was Executive Producer of PBS’s weekly news magazine, “Need to Know,” will begin her new post September 19th and will report to Current TV President, David Bohrman.
Lewis brings significant experience in broadcast news, digital content, and in launching new programming initiatives to Current. At Current, she will drive the network’s recent focus on news analysis and political commentary, with an initial focus on primetime.
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, will be based in New York and San Francisco and will oversee programming, production, broadcast operations, digital and technology, working closely with co-founders Hyatt and Al Gore as well as Current’s Chief News Officer Keith Olbermann, the network says. “Current’s mission has always been to shine a light on important issues, to spark debate and to speak truth to power,” Gore said. “David Bohrman passionately shares our vision. He has innovation in his DNA, and he has the unique qualifications and relationships to take Current to a whole new level in programming and production.” For the past decade, Bohrman was CNN’s SVP Programming and Washington, DC bureau chief, and in May of this year, he became CNN’s SVP and Chief Innovation Officer Worldwide. Before that, he executive produced NBC News’ special news events from 1993-1997 and was part of MSNBC’s launch team, where he created The Site and Imus in the Morning. For 13 years before that Bohrman was at ABC News, where he was a senior producer and part of the launch team of Nightline and executive producer of World News Now.
UPDATE, 8:10 PM:Reached late Thursday, Rosenthal said “Joel and I always had a great collaboration and we remain close friends. And Joel was instrumental in negotiating for Keith Olbermann to come to Current.”
PREVIOUS, 4:15 PM: Mark Rosenthal decided to leave because Joel Hyatt was crowding him in, we’re told. The co-founder wanted to run Current again after Rosenthal recruited Keith Olbermann to come on board. The channel began to generate a lot of buzz as its focus shifted to news commentary and politics as opposed to long form non-fiction programming. Hyatt’s desire to run the operation reached the point where he and Rosenthal agreed a few months ago to be co-CEOs, although the company didn’t announce that change. But the the channel’s too small to require two chiefs. What’s more, Rosenthal had held bigger jobs by himself when he was CEO of Interpublic Media and COO of MTV Networks. He was a board member at Current when Hyatt asked him to step in and professionalize the programming, marketing, affiliate sales, ad sales, and research efforts at the channel that used to be based in San Francisco. Olbermann’s said to be upset by Rosenthal’s decision to leave his job and the Current board. But even Current’s most famous personality doesn’t have the clout to overrule Hyatt.
PREVIOUS, 3:03 PM: Current TV has just released this statement about its CEO Mark Rosenthal leaving the network, a little more than a month after the premiere of the revamping network’s new flagship news show Countdown With Keith Olbermann. Co-founder Joel Hyatt is replacing him. The statement: Read More »
Most cable news networks and their Web sites plan to cover Tuesday’s 6:30 AM PT parliamentary hearing about the News Of The World phone hacking and police bribery scandal. Members of the Culture, Media and Sport committee will have first crack at News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch, Deputy COO James Murdoch, former News International chief Rebekah Brooks, and former Scotland Yard chief Paul Stephenson. But you might have more fun watching the event from folks who have a special interest in it. Current’s Keith Olbermann — who rarely misses an opportunity to criticize Murdoch — will be all over the event beginning at 6:15 AM PT. Former Nixon counsel John Dean will help to analyze what the Murdochs knew and when they knew it. And the BBC will offer live feeds online beginning at 4:00 AM PT at www.bbc.co.uk/news/. Joining the network correspondents will be Michael Wolff, author of The Man Who Owns The News: Inside The Secret World Of Rupert Murdoch.
Ratings for Current’s new incarnation of Countdown With Keith Olbermann were bound to fall in the show’s second week as the curiosity factor wore off and people began their July 4 vacations. Still, the numbers from last week are bracing: Olbermann attracted an average of 93,000 viewers in its target 25-54 demo, down 29% from the first week. The total audience, at 253,000, was down 28.5%. The numbers account for people who watched the 8 PM ET broadcast live, or the same evening on their DVRs.
Current has little reason to be alarmed just yet. It’s attracting far more than the average of 15,000 viewers who tuned in to the time slot during the four weeks before Olbermann moved in. Last Wednesday’s broadcast handily beat Eliot Spitzer on CNN’s In The Arena. And Olbermann’s June 20 premiere broadcast did better than even Current initially thought: The network reported that the show attracted 179,000 viewers in its demo, but that just included live viewers. When same-day DVR watchers are thrown in, Olbermann drew 245,000 in the 25-54 demo, beating MSNBC with 237,000 and CNN with 89,000. Olbermann has said that he won’t focus on week-to-week ratings while Countdown finds its rhythm, and audience.