December 8, 2023

Media Decoder Blog: Vieira to Leave ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire’

Disney is searching for a new host for the syndicated game show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.”

Meredith Vieira, the host since 2002, said Thursday that she had decided to leave the show at the end of her current contract cycle. “It’s been a great 11 years,” she said in a statement. “I am about to embark on a new adventure with NBC and I have a digital venture which will be announced shortly. This just seemed like the right time to make the move.”

Ms. Vieira was a co-host of NBC’s “Today” between 2006 and 2011. She is now a special correspondent for the network. An NBC representative declined to comment on what Ms. Vieira’s “new adventure” was. Last week Ms. Vieira filled in for Kathie Lee Gifford on the 10 a.m. hour of “Today.”

“Millionaire” was originally hosted in prime time by Regis Philbin, then reformatted for the daytime with Ms. Vieira and distributed to local stations. A spokesman for Ms. Vieira said she was the longest-serving female host of a game show in television history.

Disney, the distributor, said a new host would take over for her in the fall.

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Media Decoder Blog: Jake Tapper Leaves ABC News for CNN

Jake Tapper in November on the set of ABC's Fred Lee/ABC Jake Tapper in November on the set of ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

CNN on Thursday said it had hired Jake Tapper, the senior White House correspondent for ABC News, amid talk of new programming for the cable news channel.

Mr. Tapper, widely seen as one of the most aggressive reporters in the nation’s capital, will anchor an afternoon program for the channel and will be its chief Washington correspondent. The new program will start sometime next year.

Mr. Tapper’s talks with CNN predated the hiring of Jeff Zucker to be president of CNN Worldwide. But Mr. Zucker, who will start at CNN in January, was instrumental in getting the deal done, a spokeswoman for the channel said.

Mr. Tapper alluded to the prospect of working with Mr. Zucker in a statement on Thursday. “With CNN’s impeccable reporting during the elections and the exciting changes in the works for the network, this is a perfect time to join the CNN team,” he said.

CNN did not specify what time slot Mr. Tapper would be given. But the channel is expected to shrink the three-hour “Situation Room” back to two hours, possibly to 5 and 6 p.m. Eastern time, making room for Mr. Tapper’s program at 4 p.m.

Mr. Tapper has worked for CNN once before; he was a co-host of “Take 5,” a weekend panel program on CNN, in 2001.

Mr. Tapper has worked at ABC News since 2003, and has been stationed at the White House full time since the presidential election in 2008. His interest in hosting the network’s Sunday morning public affairs program “This Week” has been an open secret in Washington for some time now. When George Stephanopoulos was renamed the host of the program (after a stint by Christiane Amanpour) in 2012, there was speculation that Mr. Tapper would look elsewhere. Last week, ABC confirmed that Mr. Stephanopoulos would remain the host of “This Week” in the new year.

In a memo about the changes on Thursday, Ben Sherwood, the president of ABC News, praised Mr. Tapper for building “a reputation as one of the most prolific and multitalented journalists on the beat, scoring scoop after scoop.” He said that Jonathan Karl would succeed Mr. Tapper at the White House. Mr. Karl is currently the senior political correspondent for the news division.

Additionally, the foreign affairs reporter Martha Raddatz, who gained attention in the fall for moderating a vice-presidential debate, will have the title of global foreign affairs correspondent. Ms. Raddatz will also be the primary substitute for Mr. Stephanopoulos on “This Week,” replacing Mr. Tapper in that role, ABC said.

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Media Decoder: MSNBC Suspends Halperin Over Slur

12:55 p.m. | Updated MSNBC suspended one of its best-known political analysts, Mark Halperin, on Thursday morning after he directed a derogatory comment at President Obama on the channel’s morning show, “Morning Joe.”

Sitting on the set of “Morning Joe,” Mr. Halperin smiled mischievously as he disparaged Mr. Obama’s behavior at a news conference a day earlier. “I thought he was kind of a dick yesterday,” Mr. Halperin said.

Time magazine, which employs Mr. Halperin as editor-at-large, issued him a warning but is not taking any further action.

“Mark Halperin’s comments on air this morning were inappropriate and in no way reflective of Time’s views,” a spokesperson for the magazine said. “We have issued a warning to him that such behavior is unacceptable. Mark has appropriately apologized.”

Before Mr. Halperin made the quip, he had asked if there was a seven-second delay available, a feature of television control rooms that can be used to bleep out stray curse words on live TV.

“Delay that,” the show’s co-host, Joe Scarborough, said after hearing the comment.

Minutes later, Mr. Halperin apologized on the air, saying “I shouldn’t have said it. I apologize to the president and the viewers who heard me say that.”

Mr. Scarborough complained on the air that the show’s executive producer failed to bleep the word. “I would tell you what I think of him, but he doesn’t know what button to push,” he said.

Immediately after the show concluded at 9 a.m., a meeting was convened about the incident, and by 10:30 a.m., Mr. Halperin had been suspended indefinitely from his analyst job at MSNBC.

“Mark Halperin’s comments this morning were completely inappropriate and unacceptable,” the channel said in a statement. “We apologize to the president, the White House and all of our viewers. We strive for a high level of discourse and comments like these have no place on our air.”

In a fresh statement from the channel, Mr. Halperin said he agreed completely “with everything in MSNBC’s statement about my remark” and added, “I believe that the step they are taking in response is totally appropriate.” He said he deeply regretted making the comment.

Mr. Halperin is a paid contributor to MSNBC and a regular guest on “Morning Joe.” He is Time’s leading political reporter and one of the magazine’s most recognizable bylines, a visibility that could complicate the fallout from his profane remark.

Mr. Halperin often takes the lead role for Time in reporting on the presidential campaign and writes the popular political blog “The Page.” He is also co-authoring a follow-up book to “Game Change,” the best-seller about the 2008 campaign.

Time had no immediate comment about how the comment could jeopardize his access to the president or his credibility as an objective journalist.

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Media Decoder: Vieira Likely to Leave NBC’s ‘Today’

Meredith Vieira, the co-host of NBC’s “Today” show, is likely to leave the top-rated morning show this year, two people with knowledge of her deliberations said Tuesday.

Ms. Vieira’s contract ends in September, and she has made no secret that she dislikes the early morning wake-up calls and the stress of the position. She has not notified NBC of a decision, but is leaning toward leaving, according to the people, who insisted on anonymity to avoid affecting the outcome. If Ms. Vieira, 57, does leave, the news anchor on “Today,” Ann Curry, 54, would be a leading contender to replace her.

“Today” is both historic and highly lucrative, so the management of any anchor change on the show would be a major test for Comcast, which gained control of NBC earlier this year.

Separately, TV Guide and The Hollywood Reporter both reported on Tuesday that Ms. Vieira’s exit looked likely. The people with knowledge of her deliberations said that foremost on her mind are her three children and her husband, Richard Cohen, who has multiple sclerosis.

Ms. Vieira, a former reporter for CBS News and co-host of ABC’s “The View,” joined “Today” in 2006, replacing Katie Couric. Her co-host is Matt Lauer, who has been on the show since 1997. Mr. Lauer’s contract is said to extend beyond this year, but its end date is not known.

The possibility that Ms. Vieira would leave “Today” was heightened last year when she opted for a one-year contract extension rather than a long-term extension.

She commented on the possibility of leaving late last year, telling Ladies’ Home Journal, “I’ll know when it’s time to go, and I’m not afraid to go. If I were to leave at the end of next year because it’s time for me, I wouldn’t jump into another show. I would look forward to not working, to traveling with Richard and carving out time for us.”

She added in that interview, “You’re always doing something, if you are curious. It doesn’t have to be a 9-to-5 job.”

Ms. Vieira did not respond to a phone call or text message on Tuesday evening, and her agent was in Rome and unavailable to comment. When asked about Ms. Vieira, NBC said in a statement, “The ‘Today’ show anchors are currently under contract and firmly in place.”

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