He’s not that good with a razor. Let’s see how good “magnet for talent” Jeff Zucker is with an axe in his quest for “vibrant broadcasters” to “redefine news” with “nonfiction programming” zeroing in on CNN’s awful primetime as a “top priority” and the disastrous morning show.
A hint: the new president of CNN Worldwide likes envelope-pushing, boozer, druggie, chick magnet (CNN — Chick News Network?) celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain hired in June for an upcoming weekend show. (See “CNN Hires Gastronomic Equivalent of Christiane Amanpour” Chickaboomer.)
Zucker is severing all ties with Katie Couric’s show where he serves as executive producer. To avoid conflict of interest, Zucker is even giving up his equity share of the program. NYP. The Hollywood Reporter disputes that as Zucker slides out of the $20 mil, two-year contract he and Katie signed with ABC for the daytime show which just started in September.
NYT’s Bill Carter and Brian Stelter: Phil Griffin, the president of MSNBC, said that if anyone could “bring CNN back,” Mr. Zucker could. Referring to Roger Ailes, the Fox News chairman, Mr. Griffin said: “Ailes on one side, Zucker on the other: Game on.”
Mr. Zucker said he had not been actively looking for another job when the CNN position came open. “You can’t come from the background I come from — news, television, great brands — and not be unbelievably intrigued by this,” he said.
He will be based at CNN’s bureau in New York. Mr. Walton was based in Atlanta, where CNN has had its headquarters since its inception in 1980.
Mr. Zucker steered clear of any specific plans he might have for overhauling CNN’s programming. But while underscoring CNN’s commitment to presenting news without the partisan slant of its cable news competitors, Mr. Zucker said several times that he would be looking to make CNN’s programs “more vibrant and exciting” and that news consisted of more than just “politics and war.”
As for examples of what he might mean by redefining news, Mr. Zucker mentioned a coming weekend show on CNN hosted by the chef and world traveler Anthony Bourdain. He also cited the “nonfiction programming” being produced on other cable networks, like Discovery, as part of the competitive landscape that CNN has to be a part of.
“When I say nonfiction programming, I’m not talking about reality shows,” Mr. Zucker said. “I’m not talking about ‘Honey Boo Boo.’ But there is plenty of nonfiction programming that could fit very well under the CNN brand.”
He added, “We know that continuing to do exactly what we’ve been doing will leave us exactly where we’ve been. And that’s not good enough.”
Still, Mr. Zucker acknowledged that the lineup of CNN prime-time shows, which have greatly lagged their competitors on Fox News and MSNBC, would be a “top priority.”
CNN was likely to redesign the network’s morning program to make it more competitive with its cable rivals and the morning shows on the broadcast networks.
Mr. Zucker acknowledged the negative marks he had received for his handling of the entertainment operation at NBC when he was the chief executive there, saying, “there is no doubt I made mistakes” running NBC Entertainment. “And I own them.”
Fired CNN ex-head Jon Klein: “Jeff will feel like a kid in the candy store.” LAT.