As Secretary of State John Kerry lent support to Ukraine’s fledging government today and took another verbal shot at Russia, NBC News said this afternoon it has added former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael A. McFaul as an analyst. McFaul will contribute across the NBCUniversal News Group — including NBC News, MSNBC, and CNBC — contributing his perspective and expertise to coverage of foreign affairs and national security. McFaul’s post in Russia ended last week. He already appeared Monday night on NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams and this morning on Today and MSNBC’s Morning Joe to discuss the situation unfolding in Ukraine.
BBC Three has ordered a docu on the Amanda Knox case update from NBC News’ Peacock Productions — Peacock Prods’ first UK commission out of its new London office. Peacock predicts its one-hour special, Is Amanda Knox Guilty? will be the first TV docu on the case since an Italian judge announced the second guilty verdict on January 30 — it’s scheduled to air on BBC Three on Monday, February 17.
NEW YORK – February 5, 2014 – NBCUniversal named Mark Kornblau Senior Vice President, Communications for the NBCUniversal News Group. He will report to Pat Fili-Krushel, Chairman, NBCUniversal News Group. Kornblau succeeds Kathy Kelly-Brown who recently was tapped to lead the newly created Global Talent Booking division for NBCUniversal. He will begin February 17.
ABC News president Ben Sherwood made it official this morning, announcing Mara Schiavocampo has joined ABC News as a New York-based correspondent. Schiavocampo, who’d been with NBC since 2007, becoming Early Today anchor in ’10 and also anchoring MSNBC’s First Look, left that network in December. At ABC News she will be a New York-based correspondent reporting on all platforms.
One day earlier, George Stephanopoulos announced on This Week that Bill Kristol, the editor and publisher of The Weekly Standard, had joined ABC News as a contributor. Kristol’s decade-long contributor relationship with Fox News ended last summer — owing to a cooling of his relationship with Fox News chairman Roger Ailes, or rather because FNC made a lot of changes and no longer needed his services and there was no cooling at all, depending on your source.
Is this the big assignment NBC News was referencing when it denied a report it would not renew Ann Curry‘s pricey contract? The news division said today Curry will report from Bangui in the Central African Republic for tonight’s NBC Nightly News, on NBCNews.com, on Curry’s YouTube channel, and on tomorrow’s Today. The announcement comes a couple days after a report surfaced that NBC News would not renew Curry’s $12 million contract; Curry segued into that contract after she exited as co-anchor of the network’s morning infotainment series, which has been trying to recover from the image problem it created ever since. At the start of this week, NBC News unveiled some of its plans to get Today back on its feet, including a new “Rise to Shine” tagline to help viewers forget its bungled dumping of Curry.
2014 is getting off to a busy start for NBC News. No sooner does the division announce its priority is getting Today back up on its feet with a new tagline “Rise to Shine” that will help viewers forget its bungled dumping of show co-anchor Ann Curry, than a report surfaces that NBC News will not renew Curry’s $12 million contract — the one she got when she was shoved off Today. The network has denied the Radar report, noting that Curry has been given an actual big assignment which, presumably, is what happens when you pay someone $12 mil a year.
Meanwhile, the division’s Sunday Beltway show Meet The Press got its fourth quarter numbers, and they’re the franchise’s worst in its history in the news demo. MTP also suffered its smallest fourth-quarter total-viewer crowd since ’91. This news forced the news division to have to insist to Politico that it has no plans to replace anchor David Gregory, because the site’s media columnist had suggested just that.
And MSNBC has had to refute a report in National Review that Rachel Maddow dictates the cable news network’s editorial direction and has a lot to say about personnel decisions. This after MSNBC anchors Martin Bashir and Alec Baldwin got the hook over separate incendiary comments, and a teary apology by Melissa Harris-Perry for an episode of her program in which she and a bunch of comics poked fun at little black grandson Kieran sitting on Mitt Romney’s knee in the family’s Christmas photo.
NBC News this morning named ITV News’ international editor Bill Neely as its new Chief Global Correspondent, based in London. The hire reunites Neely with NBC News president Deborah Turness, who was formerly editor of ITV News from ’04-13. You’ve already seen Neely appear with some regularity on NBC News, through the news division’s partnership with ITN. Neely, who has spent more than two decades with ITV, will cover major international news and events for all of NBC News’ broadcasts and digital platforms. Neely previously served as ITV News Washington Correspondent for six years, covering five of the last six presidential elections, as well as the Oklahoma City bombings, the Atlanta Olympics, and superstorm Sandy.
NBC News‘ Brit chief Deborah Turness has named the current director of online for ITV in the UK and former Sky News exec, Julian March to be her news operation’s senior VP of editorial and innovation. March will move to New York in early ’14. Reporting to Turness, March will be a key editorial leader at NBC News, overseeing all digital businesses, including NBCNews.com, as well as the news division’s editorial units. NBC News said this will allow for further integration of broadcast TV news and digital operations.
At ITV, March is credited with coming up with the strategy and delivery of the network’s entire online business. Prior to ITV, he spent 11 years at Rupert Murdoch’s Sky News, where he launched the Sky News app, and produced over 3,000 hours of live television, including coverage of major breaking news stories such as the 7/7 London bombings and the Indian Ocean tsunami.
UPDATE: NBC To Trot Out Second Pilot For ‘Dateline’ Skydiver Collision Special After ‘GMA’ Beats ‘Today’ Skydivers Edition
UPDATE, 2:35 PM: NBC will air its Dateline special, using the helmet-cam video of the skydivers who survived that mid-air collision 12,000 feet above Wisconsin last weekend, this Friday at 8 PM on a Dateline special called Miracle On The Sunset Dive. Sure enough, NBC News was saving that second plot — the one whose plane caught fire and broke into pieces, and who was not seen on Tuesday’s Today show — for the Dateline special. “For the first time, hear from the pilot whose plane lost both of its wings and plummeted to the ground,” NBC News emoted in this afternoon’s scheduling announcement.
PREVIOUS, 10:17 AM: Word that NBC News had paid “in excess” of $100,000 for exclusive rights to helmet-cam video of skydivers who’d miraculously survived a recent mid-air collision in Wisconsin had some media critics harrumphing mightily, accusing NBC News of “checkbook journalism” albeit on a Hollywood-cappuccino-money level — but that’s not the point. In fairness, the news did not offend some media-watchers’ moral sense — no doubt because they don’t have one, you’re thinking.
U.S. Congressman Henry Waxman (D-Calif) wonders why a Time Warner Cable lobbyist is emailing Republicans in the House and Senate, telling them “next time you think about helping broadcasters” they should first read a Weekly Standard article taking NBC News to task for its weeklong look at the Affordable Care Act. “Could you please explain why this email was sent and what purpose it serves?” Waxman, the ranking member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, said this afternoon in a terse letter addressed to TWC CEO Glenn Fritt.
The Weekly Standard article to which the unnamed lobbyist linked was called “NBC Launches Week of Programming to ‘Help’ Obamacare Succeed.” The Weekly Standard appears to have looked askance at an announcement NBC News emailed around last week – we got a copy too – detailing plans for this week’s “Ready or Not, the New Healthcare Law” — a “multi-screen experience to help Americans get the most out of the Affordable Care Act.” NBC’s coverage included results from a Kaiser Family Foundation poll, conducted in conjunction with NBC News, that details public opinion and awareness about the ACA. And, NBC Nightly News aired an interview between NBC News’ Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Nancy Snyderman and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “Doctors, nurses, employers and patients all have a stake in how the Affordable Care Act will play out,” said Snyderman. “The sweeping federal law is confusing. We will clarify parts of the law, explain how states differ and tackle many of the challenges associated with it. We are committed to answering questions and serving as a guide as this legislation is implemented.”
In the midst of a stream of breaking news around the shootings today at the Navy Yard in Washington DC, NBC and CBS stumbled. At around 1 PM ET, both networks reported that the shooter of at least 11 people at the DC facility as Rollie Chance, a Navy officer. “NBC News I-Unit head RT @REspositoNBC: Shooter identified as a Rollie Chance #NavyYardShooting,” tweeted NBC News’ Chuck Todd just before 1 PM ET. CBS reported the shooter’s name soon afterwards too. The problem was both NBC and CBS were wrong and had to retract the information. “BREAKING. @johnmillercbs advises the initial reports identifying the suspected shooter as Rollie Chance are wrong,’ tweeted CBS producer Charlie Kaye just before 1 PM. “NBC News: we are now NOT reporting name of shooter; retracting that report. deleting those tweets,” tweeted Todd at 1:05 PM. Less than half and hour later, Todd added, “The confusion over the shooter name had to do with an I.D. card found near dead gunman; What led to bad initial reporting.” Todd didn’t stop there. “I know folks are relishing an opportunity to get out their hatred for media; I’m just trying to provide context for what we got wrong,” he added. At 2:46 PM, NBC News’ Pete Williams identified the shooter as civilian contractor Aaron Alexis based on reports from federal officials. The gunman was killed in a shootout with police today. Police officials did not confirm or deny that other shooters were involved. Shots first were reported at around 8:15 AM ET.
NBC News is launching its Peacock Productions international division in the UK and has named Steve Anderson its managing director. Starting next month, Anderson will oversee international TV production for NBC News’ longform production unit known for its specials, documentaries and reality series. (Most recently, Peacock Prods made news with Skywire Live With Nik Wallenda, its live special for Discovery Channel in which Wllenda crossed the Little Colorado River Gorge near Grand Canyon National Park.)
The crime reporter with nearly 4,000 Los Angeles Times bylines and countless radio and TV interviews to his name is headed to the small screen for good. LA Observed reports that Andrew Blankstein is leaving the paper …
While professional news organizations have long used amateur-produced video (remember Abraham Zapruder’s film of the JFK assassination?), NBC News today joins the ranks of news providers who are beginning to embrace it as a first resort instead of a last. …
NBC News Chief White House Correspondent Chuck Todd went on MSNBC’s Morning Joe this morning to whine about NBC Entertainment’s plans for a Hillary Clinton miniseries. “A total nightmare” for the news division, Todd called it. What’s knotting his knickers is a recent threat by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus to yank primary debates from NBC after NBC Entertainment announced it had bought a Hillary Clinton miniseries. “There’s nothing we can do about it and we’re going to only own the negative,” Todd complained of the Clinton mini, announced at the just-wrapped Summer TV Press Tour 2013. “People are going to see the peacock, and they see NBC,” he said of the project, which NBC Entertainment chief Robert Greenblatt said he hoped to broadcast before Clinton might declare a presidential run.
Here may be a good place to mention NBC News signed Chelsea Clinton to a short-term contract as a “special correspondent” in the fall of 2011 and renewed in ’12.