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Fates & Fortunes Weekly Round-Up: Sept. 14, 2009

 As always, remember that you can follow us on Twitter at BCFates. You can also forward your fate to me at or at so I can include it here.

Here’s this week’s somewhat delayed round-up of media people on the move:

Big Kahunas

If Rep. Joe Wilson hadn’t shouted out during President Obama’s health-care speech, this would have been last week’s biggest news: Ellen Degeneres is replacing Paula Abdul as a judge on American Idol.

Discovery extended the deal of CEO David Zaslav to early 2015, reports B&C sister publication Multichannel News, increasing his annual base salary to $3 million as well as adding incentives that could bring Zaslav an additional $55 million through the end of Zaslav’s new contract.

Journalism Jumps

ABC’s veteran newsman John Stossel is jumping ship for Fox Business Network and Fox News Channel, according to TVNewser. Stossel will host a one-hour program on FBN entitled Stossel, which will reflect Stossel’s libertarian bent. He’ll also appear on FNC and host and produce a series of one-hour specials for the network. His blog “Stossel’s Take,” will be published on both and

ABC producer Sean Smith will join Stossel, joining Fox as vice president of news. Smith most recently was a coordinating producer for ABC News. Prior to that, he was the senior producer for the ABC World News webcast.

Jamie Kraft was named executive producer of CNN’s American Morning, after serving as acting executive producer since May. Previously, he was the show’s senior broadcast producer. Prior to joining American Morning, Kraft was a senior producer for Anderson Cooper 360. He came to CNN from CBS News where he had produced 60 Minutes, the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather and 48 Hours. Kraft won a Gracie award, two Emmys and a New York Press Club award while at CBS. At CNN he was part of the team that earned two Peabody awards for its coverage of Hurricane Katrina and the 2008 presidential campaign and a Murrow Award for its coverage of the Lebanon/Israeli conflict. Kraft also won two Emmy awards while at AC360.

Sally Thorner, 54, anchor woman at CBS-owned WJZ Baltimore, will retire on Dec. 18.

William Cohan has joined Bloomberg TV as a contributing editor, according to TVNewser.

Forrest Carr, news director at LIN’s CBS affiliate KRQE Albuquerque, has joined Journal Broadcast’s ABC affiliate KGUN Tucson in the same capacity. It is a homecoming for Carr, who was news director at the station from 1997 to 2001 before exiting to join Media General’s NBC affiliate WFLA Tampa as news director.

Nadine Woodward, veteran anchor at Belo-owned KREM Spokane, Wash., says station management let her go over contract terms, according to The Spokesman Review.

Programming Prospects

Veteran cable executive Ed Hersh has been named to the newly-created role of senior vice president of strategic planning for Investigation Discovery, reporting directly to Investigation Discovery’s President and GM Henry Schleiff. Hersh’s responsibilities will include creating long-term content, production, acquisitions, marketing and promoting strategies for the network. He will collaborate with the advertising sales and distribution teams to evolve the Investigation Discovery brand.  Hersh previously was chief creative officer for StoryCentric LLC, a company he founded. He spent several years at Court TV, most recently as executive vice president of current programming and specials. Prior to his time at Court TV, Hersh had worked as vice president of documentary programming for A&E Television Network.

Rhiannon Ally has joined the cast of Meredith’s Better, a nationally syndicated lifestyle entertainment program.  She will work with Better host, Audra Lowe, as well as report from the field. Ally comes to Better from KCTV, Meredith’s CBS affiliate in Kansas City, MO.  She joined that team in 2007 as the station’s “More in the Morning” traffic anchor/reporter.  She also provided features and entertainment reporting for KCTV5.

Reality TV producer Stuart Krasnow has signed a first-look production deal with Fox21, the alternative/unscripted arm of 20th Century Fox TV, reports Variety.

Station Switches

Bill Scaffide, general manager at Sinclair-owned MyNetworkTV-affiliate WTVZ Hampton Roads, Va., retired, reported The Virginian-Pilot.

Andrew Wallace has been named vice president of Midwest national sales and marketing for Spanish-language broadcaster Liberman Broadcasting. Wallace will be based in Chicago and charged with strategically positioning the Estrella TV network, which launches later this month.

Corporate Changes

Media veteran Daniel Casey has been named executive vice president of sales and general manager of WorldLink. Casey most recent was executive vice president of sales and marketing with direct marketing company Revenue Frontier and president and general manager of Ellis-owned KDOC Los Angeles

Washington Wire

Michelle Ellison has been named chief of the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau, which handles consumer and industry complaints. Ellison has been deputy general counsel and acting general counsel since July. She has also been helping new Commissioner Mignon Clyburn with the transition.


Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) CEO Christina Norman and USA Network President of Original Programming Jeff Wachtel were added to the Hollywood Radio Television Society’s Board of Directors. Joining Norman and Wachtel on the board are Jeffrey Bader, executive VP of planning, scheduling and distribution for the ABC Entertainment Group and Gary Marenzi, president of worldwide television for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.  The HRTS Board of Directors also announced the organization’s new “Charitable Giving Program.” The society’s president will select a local non-profit to receive financial and promotional support from the HRTS. The first beneficiary will be My Friend’s Place, a homeless youth support services provider in Hollywood.

Matthew Wood joined Media Access Project in Washington, D.C., as associate director.


Larry Gelbart, writer of the TV show M*A*S*H and the 1982 smash-hit film Tootsie and many other award-winning productions, died last week in Beverly Hills after a battle with cancer. He was 81.

Army Archerd, who became an industry institution during his more than half-century as an entertainment columnist at Daily Variety, died last week in Los Angeles at the age of 87. He had a rare form of mesothelioma cancer, thought to be the result of his exposure to asbestos in the Navy during WWII.

Pierre Cossette, the Grammy Awards’ longtime producer, died last week of congestive heart failure near his home in St. Anicet, Quebec, Canada. He was 85.

George Eckstein, a television writer and producer who co-wrote the historic final episode of The Fugitive TV series in the 1960s and produced the acclaimed Steven Spielberg-directed TV-movie Duel in the ’70s, died last week of lung cancer at the age of 81.