Skip to comments.CNN Hires Media Veteran to Revamp 'Zahn' (Paula's evening show ALREADY a disaster! BWA-HA!)
Posted on 05/28/2003 10:29:11 AM PDT by Timesink
By Andrew Grossman
NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - CNN has named a widely traveled media veteran to relaunch and produce Paula Zahn's evening news show, the network said.
James Miller -- a news and TV producer, screenwriter, political veteran and co-author of a best seller about "Saturday Night Live" -- will spend the next month or so developing a format for "American Evening With Paula Zahn," the 7-9 p.m. show that has not yet launched, though Zahn has been in the time slot since March 31. In a rush to move Zahn into her new spot and push Connie Chung and "Crossfire" out during the war, CNN named the show "Live From the Headlines."
Miller, who most recently was a consultant for ABC News' "Good Morning America," said he expects the show will be relaunched and retitled next month or in July after traveling to CNN bureaus and "drilling down on what the show is."
In his role as senior executive producer, Miller said he recognizes and relishes the challenge of trying to exploit CNN's highly visible but diminished brand.
"For me, it was the brand of CNN," he said. "The values I as a journalist that I wanted to embrace are part and parcel of what this organization has been."
And just how will Miller accomplish what CNN and MSNBC have been trying to do for the past few years in its competition with Fox News Channel? Noting that Monday was his first day on the job, Miller declined to get into specifics, but said: "It wants to be a news program that both keeps people up to date in terms of any breaking news and (is) also challenging them and being provocative at the same time."
Miller also will have to persuade viewers to take a look at Zahn's show. The interim program has averaged 593,000 viewers this month, a 32% decline from what Chung and "Crossfire" delivered in February, the steepest drop-off of the three major cable news networks, though CNN is comfortably ahead of MSNBC. (Fox is off 8%, and MSNBC is off 23%). Compared with a year ago, CNN is in better shape, off only 1% in May, while MSNBC has dipped 13% with its new lineup of "Hardball With Chris Matthews," and "Countdown With Keith Olbermann."
But Zahn did deliver improved numbers year-to-year in her morning show, and CNN will likely give her a decent amount of time under the new format to find those viewers. Her backers say it's unfair to judge Zahn after the network rushed her onto the air in place of Chung without a well-formed plan in place.
Before "Good Morning America," Miller spent nine months at USA Network as executive vp original programming. His other news experience came as a producer for CBS News from 1985-88.
Miller co-wrote with Tom Shales a 2002 best seller about the history of NBC's "Saturday Night Live," and produced several TV series, including "D.C." for Dick Wolf, and "Brimstone." He wrote screenplays for various studios, was a vp at Norman Lear's Act III Entertainment and consulted for Grant Tinker and Brandon Tartikoff.
While at CBS, Miller wrote a book about his experiences as an assistant to Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker. And he started his career as a reporter covering the television industry for the Washington Post.
With his broad background in entertainment, what makes Miller qualified to lead a news show?
"I was very much involved in politics after CBS News," he said. "I was always in touch with people with the news divisions and from time to time would be consulting with them on projects. In many ways I don't feel I've ever left."
Shales agreed. "He was very popular at 'GMA' when he was there," he said. "They seemed to flood his computer with mournful e-mails when he left. ... He has a wide range of interests; that will probably help him a lot in this job."
In other words, it wants the audience to fall hook, line, and sinker for the hate-Bush rhetoric.
Funny how they just can't get it, in terms of why Fox is winning.
Wow! Somebody's working real hard to spin this into a happy face, arent they!?
Apply all the makeup you want, but liberal talking heads have a very finite audience which has already peaked, IMO.
Translation: The guy can't keep a job.
I can't believe that CNN would give the show that name
But will it be a little bit (...ZIIIP!...) sexy?
I have to disagree. CNN's ratings with Zahn may be way down from what they were with Crossfire, but CNN's ratings with the "new, improved Crossfire" were themselves way down from what the old Crossfire was getting before they added on The Forehead, Serpenthead and the studio audience. If you run an FR search on "Crossfire" going back a year or so, you should be able to find a thread or two I posted on it at the time.