Eric Meyrowitz, general manager of District's WDCW, leaves for N.Y.C.'s WPIX

By Lisa de Moraes
Friday, September 3, 2010

For the second time in three months, the general manager of a Washington TV station has been nabbed to run a flagship station in New York City.

This time it's Eric Meyrowitz, vice president/general manager of Washington's Tribune-owned CW station WDCW -- he's been named vice president/GM of Tribune's CW's flagship station WPIX, effective immediately.

He's the guy who brought you "Direct Access With Big Tigger" and "SportsWeek with Arrington and Dukes" -- part of a push to produce local programming at the station, which has no news operation.

That went well; in mid-July, Tribune announced it was picking up "Big Tigger" for a 10-week test run in three major markets: Philadelphia, Dallas and Hartford, Conn. Those TV markets are the country's fourth, fifth and 30th largest, respectively.

Tribune put out a news release about Meyrowitz's promotion at the crack of dawn Thursday, to the surprise of staff at both stations -- and Meyrowitz, who had flown to New York thinking he would have Thursday morning to personally deliver the news to key staffers there before Tribune made his promotion public.

Ashley Messina, WDCW's head of sales, is now interim general manager of at WDCW (Channel 50), but Meyrowitz will shuttle between New York (the country's largest TV market) and Washington (ranked No. 9) over the next two to three weeks during the transition.

Meyrowitz is leaving WDCW in good shape; for the past six months, the station has broken its records in market audience share among viewers age 25-54. This fall, the station is adding four off-network syndicated strips to its lineup: Hollywood sendup "Entourage," Larry David self-parody "Curb Your Enthusiasm," Neil Patrick Harris ensemble comedy "How I Met Your Mother" and Julia Louis-Dreyfus's "The New Adventures of Old Christine." In March, WDCW will add reruns of "Seinfeld" to its schedule.

At WPIX, Meyrowitz is replacing Betty Ellen Berlamino, who left the station in June.

Washington has become a sort of farm-team for Gotham stations, which are in the country's No. 1 TV market. In June, our NBC-owned WRC's general manager, Michael Jack, was named to the top position at NBC's New York flagship station, WNBC.

Halderman leaves jail

Just in time for the 31st Annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards, former CBS News producer Robert "Joe" Halderman has been set free from Riker's Island jail complex, where he was serving his six-month term for a plot to try to blackmail CBS late-night host David Letterman.

Halderman's one of four producers nominated for best continuing coverage of a news story by a newsmagazine, for their work on "48 Hours Mystery" about U.S. exchange student Amanda Knox, who was convicted of murder in Italy.

The News & Docu Emmys will be awarded on Sept. 27 in Manhattan, and Halderman's is by far the most interesting nomination this year.

It's unclear whether, if Halderman wins, he would be the first ex-jailbird national Emmy winner ever, but we like to think so. And, though there's no word as to whether Halderman will attend the ceremony at the Time Warner Center, the prospect of him being there to pick up a trophy has made that sadly non-televised trophy ceremony about 30 percent more interesting than usual.

Halderman was released from the slammer early when he got time off for good behavior, though he has to complete 1,000 hours of community service (does Paul Shaffer's car need waxing?) and will be on probation for five years.

"He survived this, and he's glad to be getting off the island," his lawyer, Gerald Shargel, told the Associated Press, adding that Halderman is looking for work.

Ironically Halderman snagged his News & Docu Emmy nomination one week after Letterman's CBS late-night talk show did not get a nomination for best variety show for the first time in that show's history at the so-called Primetime Emmy Awards, which deal mostly with prime-time and late-night entertainment programming. But, while Halderman might get an Emmy, Letterman got record ratings, rave reviews and created a new crisis-management case study when about 6 million people were held spellbound on Oct. 1, as Dave admitted on national TV that he had dallied with show interns/staffers over the years and a guy was trying to blackmail him over it; Halderman was arrested that same day. See how TV finds solutions? Everybody wins.

Halderman, who no longer works for CBS News, began serving his jail time in May after admitting in March that he'd tried to squeeze $2 million out of Letterman in exchange for information that he'd gathered about affairs that Letterman had had with female show staffers, including Halderman's former girlfriend.

Halderman, 52, pleaded guilty in March to second-degree larceny after being caught presenting his threat to Letterman in a somewhat colorful form: an outline for a thinly veiled screenplay about the "Late Show" host being ruined by disclosures about his personal life.

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