The stars of CNN were fired up at the Jan. 10 party that followed the news channel's Television Critics Association press tour session. Their boss, Jeff Zucker, had come out swinging at Fox News chairman Roger Ailes for his recent remark that CNN "is out of the news business" — a swipe at the channel's stated intention to look for programming outside of traditional news shows. Zucker, citing a new book about Ailes, countered that his top-rated competitor is an arm of the Republican Party "masquerading as a news channel."
A Fox News spokesperson says Zucker was looking to deflect attention from CNN's ratings issues. Even if that was the case, CNN's on-air talent and producers welcomed Zucker's combativeness. Nearly all of those who attended the party thanked him for standing up for them.
While Zucker's style is energizing CNN's staff, the network still faces the challenge of growing its primetime audience. Zucker's strategy of broadening the channel's offerings to include documentaries and series (once staples of CNN's line-up in previous decades when the network was considered more serious) has delivered a few ratings wins. But it continues to be a tricky balancing act as viewers still expect the network to be the go-to destination for breaking news. On Jan. 9, CNN's latest film offering, Sole Survivor (which told the stories of people who've lived through plane crashes), finished behind Fox News Channel's and MSNBC's coverage of Gov. Chris Christie's troubles over the George Washington Bridge lane closings. The Biz followed up with Zucker after his TCA session.
Al Roker and Matt Lauer
Matt Lauer and Al Roker created a classic Today moment during the 2006 Winter Olympics when they loaded themselves into a two-person luge. Will they don the spandex uniforms again, this time in Sochi, Russia, for NBC's coverage of the games?
"I don't know if...
The news that Good Morning America co-host Robin Roberts is gay (acknowledged via a post on her Facebook page Sunday) may be a surprise to some of the show's viewers, but her relationship with girlfriend Amber Laign has been an open secret inside ABC News for years.
"We love Robin and Amber, who we adore and have all known for a long time," said one executive. "We were touched by her Facebook message today and so thankful for the loving support she has in her life."
Six By Sondheim
How fortunate for Stephen Sondheim fans that the Broadway musical maestro came of age in the television era. The new HBO documentary Six By Sondheim, premiering Monday at 9/8c, digs deep into TV talk and news program archives to provide a fast moving yet intimate portrait of America's greatest living composer and lyricist. The film also includes several new music-video style interpretations of Sondheim compositions. One includes a cameo by the legend himself in a performance of Opening Doors with Jeremy Jordan, America Ferrera, Laura Osnes and Darren Criss. Sondheim collaborator James Lapine, who directed and co-executive produced Six By Sondheim, offered a glimpse into the filmmaking process.
Time flies when you're making politicians squirm with tough questions. This Sunday, Fox News Channel's Chris Wallace celebrates 10 years in the anchor chair on the Washington roundtable show Fox News Sunday (check local listings). Wallace is the only news anchor to helm Sunday shows on two different networks — he was moderator of NBC's Meet the Press in the late 1980s. He recently took some time to reflect on his run and his days as a gofer for Walter Cronkite.
TV Guide Magazine: You were really the big first name to come to Fox News from one of the traditional big 3 networks. How do you think the channel has changed since you first arrived?
Chris Wallace: Not...
Susan Flannery, Lesley-Anne Down
Like a popular dead character suddenly coming back to life, the rising ratings of the remaining daytime dramas are a major surprise of the TV season.
All four soaps are seeing growth in total audience and at least one of the younger demographic categories (women ages 18 to 49 and women ages 18 to 34) that are important to advertisers. On CBS, The Bold and the Beautiful is up 12 percent in total viewers this season, giving the show its best start since 2007, while The Young and the Restless recently had its largest weekly audience since...
From daytime to late night, familiar faces are popping up in new places this season. Here's a progress report on how these hosts are doing in their latest roles.
John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy was the first president to embrace television. His assassination in Dallas on November 22, 1963 — which will be revisited, 50 years later, in numerous TV documentaries and specials this month — made an indelible impact on America's relationship with the medium as well.
Before that heart-wrenching weekend, extended live network news coverage was limited to planned events such as political conventions and election nights. Network correspondents gathered in Texas that week expecting to cover Kennedy's visit via filmed reports for their evening newscasts. Instead...
Unless you watch Spanish-language TV, Univision's Jorge Ramos is the probably the most famous TV news anchorman you've never heard of. "It's like being invisible," says Ramos, whose newscast, Noticiero Univision, draws 2 million viewers nightly. "Other than appealing to the 55 million Latinos, sometimes we are in a parallel world in which people are not even aware we exist."
Next on Katie: How to survive in the syndicated-TV jungle.
The daytime talk show hosted by former Today and CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric was the highest-rated new syndicated talker of last season. This season, Katie is averaging...