David Gregory reenlists for the Sunday morning talk wars
By Lisa De Moraes,
NBC News has re-upped David Gregory as anchor of its Sunday Beltway show “Meet the Press.”
Gregory’s been the show’s host for the past four years. He replaced Tim Russert, who had the gig for 16 years until he died on the job in June 2008.
This TV season, “Meet the Press” is averaging 3.2 million viewers — second to the CBS Sunday Beltway show “Face the Nation” (3.3 million). The first half is, anyway. CBS News breaks its show into two programs for ratings purposes because, as it has explained in the past, the second, newer half-hour does not have as many station clearances as the first half-hour. (“Face 1” is cleared in 99 percent of the country, while “Face 2” is available in 84 percent.)
Since Russert’s final full season, “MtP” has lost 20 percent of its audience. “FtN,” on the other hand — which is still anchored by Bob Schieffer — has gained 23 percent.
ABC’s “This Week,” now anchored once again by George Stephanopoulos, trails the other two programs with an average audience of 2.7 million this season. On the bright side, that’s up considerably compared with The Christiane Amanpour Years.
Before taking over the anchor chair on “MtP,” Gregory was NBC News’s chief White House correspondent; he joined NBC in ’95.
CNN shuffles hosts
CNN is sweeping aside its morning-show host, Soledad O’Brien, to make way for new network chief Jeff Zucker’s better idea: a morning show anchored by Chris Cuomo and Erin Burnett.
O’Brien, who has been with CNN since 2003, is being segued into a production and distribution deal with the cable news network.
Under the terms of her deal, she will produce three specials for CNN in 2014.
“The new partnership opportunity allows me to focus on what I love to do the most, and to focus on the next stage of my career, owning my own work,” O’Brien said in Thursday’s announcement.
After flopping with a February “sweep” stunt in which a convicted rapist was cast as a rape victim, “Law & Order: SVU” — now a sadder but wiser sex-crimes drama — has gone back to what the franchise does best: rip from the headlines.
This time, it’s Chris Brown and Rihanna.
On the final night of the February sweep next week, an episode called “Funny Valentine” will feature a story line about a rising young music star who is physically beaten by her high-profile music-star boyfriend. The victim refuses to help the prosecution and, despite Mariska Hargitay’s best efforts, continues to put herself in danger. Meanwhile, the case gets turned into a media circus because of the antics of the abuser guy and his attorney (Jeffrey Tambor).
Over its lifetime, the “Law & Order” franchise has become famous for ripping from the headlines, with just enough tinkering to keep lawyers at bay. Often that tinkering involves someone getting snuffed.
We hope the episode will make some noise for NBC, which is poised to finish the February sweep in fifth place among the 18-to-49-year-olds who are the network’s ad-sales holy grail.
That would mark the first time that the network has finished behind Univision in the age bracket during a sweep. So far, Univision has beaten NBC every night of the sweep.
Among NBC’s February sweep ratings debacles: The highly hyped launch of its Jekyll/Hyde doc drama, “Do No Harm,” resulted in historically low ratings and was quickly euthanized, and the Season 2 launch of “Smash” crashed and burned.
Just a year ago, NBC easily won the February sweep. On the other hand, NBC last year had the Super Bowl and “The Voice.”
Arnett in CBS show
Another nail in the coffin of NBC’s “Up All Night”: Star Will Arnett has been cast to star in a new CBS comedy from “Raising Hope’s” Greg Garcia.
Arnett will play a recently divorced guy whose parents aren’t getting along, reports Deadline.com.
Arnett is still contractually bound to “Up All Night.” CBS gets him only if “Up” is canceled.
“Up” is on a steep downhill path. Its ratings have been very weak, but the network decided to have another crack at it, while turning it from a single-camera comedy to a multi-cam sitcom with a live studio audience and laugh track.
Not long thereafter, Arnett’s co-star, Christina Applegate, announced that she was taking a powder.
FX has picked up “The Americans” for a 13-episode second season.
The pickup comes four episodes into the first season of the drama, which stars Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys as married KGB spies posing as American travel agents in suburban Washington during the Reagan years.
The show’s unveiling, which averaged 5.1 million viewers, was the most-watched FX series debut in the network’s history.
To read previous columns by Lisa de Moraes, go to washingtonpost.com/