Stephanopoulos “Good Morning America” New Host?
Howard Kurtz reports that the “Good Morning America” gig is George Stephanopoulos’ if he wants it.
While the network’s chief Washington correspondent has not yet accepted the job, he was in New York this week, as was Anne Sweeney, president of the Disney-ABC Television Group. The talks with Stephanopoulos have involved not just the level of multimillion-dollar compensation but the details of his duties if he replaces Diane Sawyer.
As the discussions have dragged on for weeks, Stephanopoulos has pushed for a role reshaped to spotlight his interest in politics and hard news rather than feature segments. The sources, who declined to be identified discussing internal personnel matters, cautioned that the negotiations are complicated and the two sides might fail to reach agreement.
The onetime Clinton White House aide has also asked to hang on to his current job as the host of Washington-based “This Week” for as long as possible, although ABC executives do not believe he can handle both programs over the long term. ABC has not yet turned to the question of who might succeed Stephanopoulos on the prestigious Sunday show.
The clock is ticking on the negotiations because Sawyer is slated to take over the evening news show “World News” from Charlie Gibson, whose last day as anchor will be Dec. 18. Sawyer is expected to start the following Monday, Dec. 21, with little fanfare.
The reassignment of Stephanopoulos as Robin Roberts’s partner on “GMA” would be a risk for both him and the network. In the 13 years since he left politics, Stephanopoulos has grown in stature as a Sunday host and ABC’s go-to guy in Washington, and recognized from the start that the lighter, fluffier part of morning-show life was not his strong suit. With Sawyer leaving a sizable void in the second-rated morning program, bringing in a big-name star has obvious appeal to ABC News President David Westin.
While I find the morning shows, save for C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal,” insipid, they’re not only tremendously popular but the primary launch pad for the nightly news anchors. Then again, the latter job is a relic of a bygone age — which explains why ABC is handing the slot over to Sawyer the day before her 64th birthday; she’ll be a young whippersnapper to her audience.
From where I sit, Stephanopoulous has the much sweeter gig. He doesn’t have to get up at the crack of dawn every day and he’s got the only Sunday show worth watching, getting to talk about whatever he wants to before an audience of opinion leaders. Aside from going from a millionaire to a multi-millionaire, why would you give that up to do chit-chat, tomfoolery, and salacious crap to entertain people who have you on as background noise while they’re getting ready for work?