June 23, 2021

Media Decoder: Robin Roberts Plans February Return to ‘Good Morning America’

12:25 p.m. | Updated Robin Roberts, the “Good Morning America” host who signed off the show last August to receive treatment for a life-threatening bone marrow disorder, says she intends to return to work in February.

Her announcement, made in grand fashion on “G.M.A.” Monday morning, is the beginning of a gradual comeback by Ms. Roberts, the biggest star on the ABC morning show, who has been in isolation for months following a bone-marrow transplant.

“We’re talking about weeks, not months,” Ms. Roberts said of her return in a live interview from her New York apartment.

Her appearance was described by one ABC staff member as “astonishing” because it came just four and a half months after she was admitted to a New York hospital to treat M.D.S., short for myelodysplastic syndromes, a rare blood and bone marrow disorder. When Ms. Roberts revealed the diagnosis last year, executives at the network were careful not to predict how long she would be away. Some staff members said they assumed she’d be absent for six months to a year. But her body is responding well to the transplant from her older sister Sally-Ann, according to her doctors, one of whom appeared on “Good Morning America” on Monday.

Ms. Roberts began the “process of re-entry,” as she described it, by waking up at 4 a.m. for the live shot, roughly the same time she used to wake up for the show. She said she would continue the process next week by doing a “dry run”: coming into the studio and getting dressed for the show, but not actually co-hosting it.

“My doctors want me to see how many people I actually come into contact with,” she said. Her interactions with staff members and fans outside the show’s street-level studio in Times Square are a concern because she remains at risk of infection. But her eagerness to return was evident on Monday. “I can’t wait to get back,” she told her co-hosts.

Ms. Roberts’s illness was a shock for viewers of “Good Morning America” and for the show’s staff, many of whom have bonded with her over the decade she has been co-host. Fears about her prognosis came at an otherwise joyous time for the show: in April it beat NBC’s “Today” show in the ratings for the first time in 16 years.

“G.M.A.” is now solidly No. 1, though the race remains very close among the 25- to 54-year-old viewers that advertisers seek. Ms. Roberts’s return is surely to be heavily promoted by ABC, just as Monday’s announcement was teased on social networking Web sites for days in advance.

The announcement came on the same day that “Today” pulled out all the stops with coverage of the Golden Globe Awards, which NBC televised the night before. All four co-hosts of “Today” were live in California for a morning-after show. ABC denied that Ms. Roberts’ appearance was counterprogramming.

There was no precedent in morning television — a time of day that calls for consistency and intimacy — for a long medical leave of absence by an anchor. The producers of “G.M.A.” tried to lessen the possible impact by incorporating Ms. Roberts’s Facebook and Twitter messages into the show and by making sure that her co-hosts mentioned her every half-hour. They also booked a number of special guests, including Oprah Winfrey and Ann Romney, and had two other ABC anchors, Elizabeth Vargas and Amy Robach, take turns filling in. Ms. Roberts thanked the fill-ins during her live shot on Monday.

Ms. Roberts appeared to be in good spirits, though the effects of the illness were apparent: she was almost bald from the chemotherapy that preceded the transplant. Her face also looked thin, but better than it did last month, when she briefly left her apartment to attend the wedding of Sam Champion, the “Good Morning America” weatherman. She looked “a bit fragile” then, Mr. Champion said in between segments on Monday. “What is striking today is how healthy and vibrant she looks,” he said.

Ms. Roberts met with her doctors last Wednesday and received a thumbs-up to begin the re-entry process, according to staff members. She informed Tom Cibrowski, the senior executive producer of “G.M.A.,” of the good news by telephone the same day.

Mr. Cibrowski said Monday that ABC was being careful to follow the lead of Ms. Roberts and her doctors. “This is a part of her recovery,” he said, just as returning to work is a normal part of recovery for many patients. He said the show would include segments about other patients in similar situations in the weeks leading up to her first day hosting again.

“The greatest day in ‘G.M.A.’ history will be the day Robin returns to ‘G.M.A.,” Mr. Cibrowski said, repeating something he has said in interviews since her leave of absence began.

On television on Monday morning, Ms. Roberts did not give a specific date for her potential return. But she has told colleagues she has a date in mind: Feb. 26. That’s the date in 2012 when she co-hosted ABC’s coverage of the Academy Awards in Los Angeles and noticed that she felt exhausted. The feeling prompted her to visit her doctor, which in turn led to the M.D.S. diagnosis.

Article source: http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/14/robin-roberts-plans-february-return-to-gma/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Gift to M.I.T. from Bose Founder Raises Tax Questions

But Amar G. Bose, who received his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from M.I.T. and was a professor there from 1956 to 2001, placed some unusual restrictions on the Bose shares he donated to the university.

While the shares give the university majority ownership, they are nonvoting and thus confer no control over the company and its operations. Nor can M.I.T. sell the shares. It will receive dividends from Bose, which Nathaniel W. Nickerson, a spokesman for the university, said in an e-mail would be “used broadly to sustain and advance M.I.T.’s education and research mission.”

While Mr. Nickerson said it was “a very significant gift,” he would not discuss the financial details, including the potential value, saying that Dr. Bose and the Bose Corporation want to “keep details of financial matters confidential.”

M.I.T. officials, in announcing the donation, praised Dr. Bose’s teaching and research. “Amar Bose gives us a great gift today, but he also serves as a superb example for M.I.T. graduates who yearn to cut their own path,” Susan Hockfield, the university’s president, said in an article on its Web site.

Dr. Bose could not be reached for comment.

But some tax experts said the gift and the lack of detail about it raised questions. “We don’t know much about the terms of this gift, but it seems like it clearly falls into a gray area that has been of concern to Congress,” said Dean Zerbe, national managing director of the tax consulting firm Alliantgroup. “The university needs to be more forthcoming about the arrangements behind this donation so we can get a clear picture of what’s going on.”

Roger Colinvaux, an associate law professor at Catholic University and previously a staff member of the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, also said the gift raised questions for him. “If the shares truly can’t be sold so that there is some restriction on the university’s ability to transfer stock, then it would suggest it is a contribution of partial interest only, which would not be deductible as a charitable contribution,” said Mr. Colinvaux, who recently published an article in The Florida Tax Review that argues that the laws governing charity are outdated and inadequate. But Erik Dryburgh, a nonprofit lawyer, said he did not see a problem with the gift. “On its face, I don’t see the abuse or potential abuses that were present in some of the more abusive gift transactions we saw in the past,” Mr. Dryburgh said.

Mr. Zerbe and Mr. Colinvaux, though, said the gift brought to mind various tax shelters involving charities that came under scrutiny during the time they worked in Congress.

Mr. Nickerson, however, denied that Dr. Bose’s gift was similar to those tax strategies. “Further, it would not be appropriate for us to discuss the taxes of any of M.I.T.’s donors,” he said.

Most of the tax shelters cited by Mr. Zerbe and Mr. Colinvaux involved an elaborate strategy where privately held companies gave nonvoting shares to a charity and then, after a period of time, bought them back. The transactions attracted the attention of regulators puzzled by why donors would give nonprofit groups nonvoting shares, whose value — and thus potential for tax deduction — is limited by their nonvoting nature.

In 2003, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations looked into such transactions and found that in some cases, they were an elaborate way of using a charity’s tax-exempt status to erase tax liabilities for the other shareholders of the company involved.

A charity involved in such a tax strategy would receive income from the company in proportion to the size of its holdings of nonvoting stock. But while that income was taxable, it was not distributed to the charity and stayed at the company to be reinvested.

The charity did not owe taxes on the income, anyway, because it was tax-exempt.

Later, the charity would sell the nonvoting shares back to the company at fair market value, and the company would distribute the income, tax-free, that had been associated with those shares among its other shareholders.

In other, similar cases, charities that received nonvoting stakes in privately held companies through gifts of stock used large losses they had incurred on unrelated businesses to offset taxes for other shareholders. Mr. Dryburgh wrote a paper on that type of tax shelter.

In 2004, the I.R.S. listed as “restricted” such transactions and denied deductions associated with them.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=70141d05588b0aa01bb182e62dc56b71