New Talent, N.Y. Studio for CNN

It's out with the old anchors — and in with new talent and a new studio — at Cable News Network, and its little sister, CNN Headline News.

As rapid changes continue to occur at CNN under new parent AOL Time Warner Inc., including word last week that the service is building a street-level studio in Manhattan, some veteran anchors are being shown the door.

CNN Headline News relaunched last week with a redesigned format and set, and with new anchors. Thirteen-year Headline News sports anchor Jerome Jurenovich and four other sportscasters, who provided voiceovers for game highlights, were released from the network, sources said.

"Teya [Ryan, Headline News general manager] has decided to eliminate the five current Headline Sports anchors, and brought in her own people," Jurenovich said last Monday, adding that he'll be leaving the network for good at the end of this week.

Two sources said that Jurenovich and the four other anchors — Justin Wallace, Anthony Keith James, Cindy Beumont and Bram Maravent — were given an opportunity to audition for the new network. But none of the anchors were given jobs at the new, flashier Headline News because they didn't have experience interacting with other anchors on the set.

The old network showed only one anchor at a time, and sports reporters never appeared on camera. The relaunched Headline News features several anchors conversing with each other between segments — something Headline News executives didn't think the old team could handle, sources said.

Three of the five anchors were offered positions at the network in a secondary, behind-the-scenes role, sources said.

CNN officials declined to comment, saying they don't discuss personnel matters.

On the ratings side, the revamped Headline News got off to a slow start. Last Monday, it relaunched with a 0.2 Nielsen Media Research total-day rating and 146,000 households, down 4 percent from its July average. In primetime, CNN averaged a 0.1 rating and 109,000 households, down 25 percent from the July average.

Ratings improved on its second day, last Tuesday, when Headline News averaged a 0.2 total-day rating and 153,000 households. In prime time, CNN averaged a 0.3 rating and 213,000 households.

Other changes are in store at CNN, including a new street-level studio it is building in Manhattan.

Mimicking the street-level New York studios of ABC News, CBS News and NBC News, CNN said it is building a studio in the Time & Life building owned by parent AOL Time Warner Inc.

The studio, which CNN said will be completed by the middle of next year, will house its new Greenfield at Large
program and a new evening newscast that will be hosted by former ABC anchor Aaron Brown.

"This studio will help CNN interact with the vibrant street life of Manhattan and with the journalists at Time Inc. magazines," CNN News Group CEO Walter Isaacson said in a prepared statement.

CNN said the bulk its New York staff will continue to work out of its 5 Penn Plaza bureau until AOL Time Warner completes the construction of a new corporate headquarters at Columbus Circle. Most of the network's New York operations will move into the Columbus Circle building in 2004, the company added.

Meanwhile, sources confirmed that CNN is in preliminary talks with ABC News about forming a joint news venture, but that no deal is imminent.

"If these negotiations are a marathon, we're standing in front of the starting line right now," an ABC source said.

CNN declined to comment beyond issuing a statement that said its newsgathering capabilities "have made us a natural partner for other news organizations."