Morning Media Newsfeed: Letterman to Retire | Mozilla’s Eich Resigns | Fusion’s TV First

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David Letterman to Leave Late Show (TVNewser)
During the taping of Thursday’s Late Show, David Letterman announced next year will be his last on the show he’s hosted for more than two decades. The news was first reported on Twitter by R.E.M. bassist Mike Mills, a guest on the show, just after 4 p.m. ET. Letterman, who turns 67 next week, signed a contract extension in October. Adweek The duration of the new deal seemed a sure sign that the clock was ticking on Letterman’s late night tenure. Two years prior to signing the extension, the host had agreed to a two-year deal. NYT Letterman said he had informed CBS president Leslie Moonves of his intention to step down from The Late Show at the end of his current contract, which has about 16 months left. A specific end date has not yet been set. Letterman is considered by many to be the most original voice in the late-night format, and Moonves has been steadfast in his assurances in recent years that he would never ask Letterman to retire, saying at one point, “You don’t do that to a television legend.” Mashable Letterman hosted Late Night on NBC from 1982 to 1993 before starting Late Show on CBS in 1993. In 2013, he surpassed Johnny Carson as the longest-running late night talk show host in television history. He has been part of more than 6,000 late-night broadcasts. USA Today It’s unclear how CBS will replace Letterman, and when, precisely. Craig Ferguson, who hosts the Letterman-produced Late Late Show, is not being considered as a replacement, insiders say, even though his contract technically promises it. Moonves is known to have been interested in The Daily Show‘s Jon Stewart over the years, but in the past Stewart has said he is not interested in a network talk show. Stewart’s Comedy Central partner Stephen Colbert is seen as a more likely candidate, and is available sooner: His contract with Comedy Central expires in December, though Stewart is free in 2015. Chelsea Handler also announced plans to leave her late-night E! show this year.

Mozilla Co-Founder Brendan Eich Resigns as CEO, Leaves Foundation Board (Re/code)
Brendan Eich, the well-known techie who has gotten swept up in a controversy about his support of California’s anti-gay marriage law Proposition 8, is resigning as CEO of for-profit Mozilla Corporation and also from the board of the nonprofit foundation which wholly owns it. NYT / Bits Once Eich’s support for Proposition 8 became public, the reaction was swift, with a level of disapproval that the company feared was becoming a threat to its reputation and business. For example, OkCupid, a popular online dating service, set up a letter, visible to those visiting its site on Firefox, that castigated the chief executive. “Mozilla’s new CEO, Brendan Eich, is an opponent of equal rights for gay couples,” the letter said. “We would therefore prefer that our users not use Mozilla software to access OkCupid.” The letter, which has since been removed, concluded that “those who seek to deny love and instead enforce misery, shame and frustration are our enemies, and we wish them nothing but failure.”

Fusion Names Author Ryan Nerz TV’s First Chief Cannabis Correspondent (Fusion)
Fusion has named acclaimed author and journalist Ryan Nerz as the first ever network chief cannabis correspondent. Nerz will contribute regularly to Fusion’s digital and TV platforms, exploring answers to the biggest questions surrounding cannabis culture and the booming industry evolving around it. FishbowlNY The Yale-educated, Brooklyn-based contributor to NPR, Esquire, The History Channel and other outlets is also the author of last year’s Marijuanamerica. Under the new arrangement, Nerz will be expanding his Fusion TV segments The Cannabusiness Report into a series of longer half-hours. TVNewser Nerz’s hire comes a few months after the legalization of recreational marijuana in two states: Colorado and Washington. Nine other states allow medical marijuana use and decriminalize recreational use. In November, The Denver Post named entertainment reporter Ricardo Baca to the marijuana beat. The coverage of cannabis has also been a boon to networks like CNBC, which have generated strong ratings for documentaries on the subject. THR Over the past several months, Nerz developed the Cannabusiness series through various segments on Fusion’s then-morning show Fusion Live, which currently airs in primetime. “Marijuana legalization is an issue that is taking on increasing relevance — politically, economically and culturally — and requires the kind of coverage that only someone with Ryan’s expertise can deliver,” said Fusion CEO Isaac Lee.

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Star-Ledger Cuts 167 Jobs, Including 40 Newsroom Positions (The Star-Ledger)
In a grim day of reckoning at New Jersey’s largest newspaper, the owners of The Star-Ledger said Thursday they were eliminating the jobs of approximately 167 people, including 25 percent of the newsroom. FishbowlNY The layoffs will mean the paper will be out 40 of its 156 reporters, editors, photographers and other various staffers. The massive layoffs were not surprising, with the announcement last week of the creation of NJ Advance Media to provide content, advertising and marketing services to all the newspapers owned by Advance Publications in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. HuffPost The Star-Ledger reported that the cuts come as the newspaper tries to reduce costs and consolidates operations with “sister publications” in New Jersey, as well as, which is its online home. It added that beyond the layoffs, a “parade of people” have left in recent weeks. NYT The news came the day after Digital First Media, which owns 75 newspapers across the U.S., announced that it would eliminate about 50 jobs and end a project intended to centralize national and international news for its publications.

Crackle Lands Ray, King Kong, Other NBCUniversal Films (THR)
Sony-backed Crackle is bolstering its library of film titles through an exclusive licensing deal with NBCUniversal Television and New Media Distribution. The deal will give Crackle’s ad-supported streaming service access to more than 140 titles over the next three years. Among the films coming to Crackle are Colin Farrell’s Miami Vice reboot, the Jake Gyllenhaal war drama Jarhead, Naomi Watts’ King Kong remake and the Jamie Foxx biopic Ray. New titles are rolling out on the service starting April 3. Mashable Sony’s investment in Crackle and its willingness to spend the money to acquire exclusive rights to content indicate a willingness to go against the grain of other streaming sites like Netflix and Hulu, which work primarily on subscription models. This makes Crackle something of a hybrid, operating as a streaming service but making deals like a television channel. Variety Crackle, available in 21 countries, focuses on male-centric genres such as action, comedy, crime, horror and sci-fi. Original programming on the service includes Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, Crackle’s most popular series. Other originals include psychological thriller Chosen, starring Chad Michael Murray and Rose McGowan; crime-action drama Cleaners, with David Arquette and Gina Gershon; and Extraction, a 90-minute actioner starring Danny Glover as a black-ops agent.

Liberty Media to Reduce Barnes & Noble Stake (WSJ)
John Malone’s Liberty Media Corp. reached an agreement to sell most of its roughly 17 percent stake in Barnes & Noble Inc., cashing out of the bookseller’s stock following a winter rally on improving sentiment about the company’s performance. Liberty Media will lose the right to name two representatives to the board of the bookseller. But in a sign of how fragile that sentiment is, the stock fell 13.5 percent Thursday on news of the influential media investor’s sale. Reuters The sale ends a nearly three-year bet that the struggling retailer would emerge as a dominant seller of eBooks. The sale of Liberty’s shares, expected to close April 8, means the departure of one of the bookseller’s biggest investors, as well as the exit of Liberty Media chief executive Greg Maffei, a respected dealmaker, from Barnes & Noble’s board. NYT / DealBook Last summer, Barnes & Noble’s chief executive and the architect of its digital strategy, William Lynch, abruptly resigned. Nook sales dropped more than 50 percent in the most recent fiscal quarter from a year ago. After the Nook failed to take off, efforts to split off the digital business from the company’s retail stores faltered and Liberty concluded it had little interest in owning a stake in a declining brick and mortar operation. GalleyCat “By reducing our preferred position and eliminating some of our related rights, Barnes & Noble will gain greater flexibility to accomplish their strategic objectives,” said Maffei.

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Fox Stations Pick Up RightThisMinute (TVSpy)
Fox Television Stations has picked up the syndicated RightThisMinute for the 2014-2015 season. The series will air on Fox-owned stations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington D.C., Boston, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Dallas, Houston and Charlotte. Variety The show is a newsmag-style roundup of viral videos and news items with heat on the Internet. Minute, which offers stations two half-hour episodes each day, is produced out of Phoenix as a joint venture of TV station groups Cox Media Group, Raycom Media and E.W. Scripps. THR Minute only rolled out nationally in the past season after playing in small- and medium-size markets since it was first launched in September 2011. In many of those markets, especially San Francisco, it has performed better than many of the higher profile syndicated shows such as Ellen, Steve Harvey and Dr. Phil.

Discovery to Make Scripted Online Videos With Oscar Winners (NYT)
A cable giant that specializes in nonfiction programming is teaming up with two movie superpowers to make scripted online videos. Discovery Communications announced on Thursday that it has entered into a partnership with director Ron Howard and producer Brian Grazer to found New Form, a digital studio that will create video programming for Discovery’s online networks. The new studio will seek to create three-to-six-minute episodic video series and stand-alone videos a la Funny or Die, Will Ferrell’s comedy website. Bloomberg Discovery is tapping the Oscar-winning team behind A Beautiful Mind in a push to produce scripted online videos, joining other big media companies making investments in that space. Walt Disney Co. last week acquired Maker Studios, the biggest network on YouTube, while Warner Bros. recently led an $18 million investment in Machinima, a network focused on video game culture.

Lucy Danziger, Laura McEwen Out at Self (FishbowlNY)
Lucy Danziger and Laura McEwen, editor-in-chief and publisher of Self, respectively, are both leaving the magazine. Danziger had been editor of Self since 2001; McEwen joined as publisher in 2010. Joyce Chang, most recently executive editor of Cosmopolitan, is replacing Danziger. Before working at Cosmo, Chang served in the same role at Marie Claire. McEwen’s successor will be named soon. Adweek Self has been in a tough spot as of late, having apologized for poking fun at a cancer survivor’s outfit. The 1.5 million-circ magazine has also been struggling both on the newsstand, where single-copy sales were down 10 percent in the second half of 2013, and in ad pages, which fell 5.7 percent in 2013. By comparison, competitor Women’s Health saw its own ad pages jump 28 percent last year.

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Networks Snub Obama on Primetime Health Care Address (BuzzFeed)
White House officials sought valuable primetime air for a rare, impromptu Tuesday night address to tout the accomplishment of signing up more than 7 million people under the Affordable Care Act. But network officials refused to make the accommodation, and Obama was left instead cutting into the much smaller audiences of Ellen and other daytime shows. Mediaite The president has only delivered primetime addresses to the nation on a handful of occasions, including the death of Osama bin Laden and during the effort to make the case for intervention in the Syrian civil war to the American people.

ABC’s Good Morning America Logs Most-Watched Quarter in More Than 20 Years (Variety)
The opening three months of the year saw ratings rise at all three broadcast morning news programs, including ABC’s Good Morning America, which drew its largest audience for any quarter in 22 years. Delivering double-digit year-over-year gains in both total viewers and adults 25-54, GMA maintained its leadership position in the first quarter even though NBC’s Today benefited from airing the Winter Olympics for a 17-day stretch in February. Today, though, was able to show nice gains of its own and more than doubled the demo delivery of third-place CBS This Morning. TVNewser Today showed the most year-over-year quarterly growth in total viewers, up 14 percent. The NBC broadcast aired from the Sochi Olympics throughout February, beating GMA in both total and demo viewers for two weeks. GMA saw the biggest quarterly demo gains compared to last year, up 15 percent. Third place CBS This Morning saw gains in total viewers, up 11 percent, but lost ground in the demo, down 2 percent.

Jenna Bush Hager Interviews Dad George W. Bush (Politico / Dylan Byers on Media)
Jenna Bush Hager has interviewed her father, former President George W. Bush, about his first-ever art exhibit, NBC announced on Thursday. The exhibit, “The Art of Leadership: A President’s Personal Diplomacy,” will be displayed at the Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas. It includes portraits of 24 world leaders, including Vladimir Putin, Tony Blair and the Dalai Lama. In one pre-released quote, Jenna says he was annoyed when his paintings were first revealed to the world by a hacker. The interview will air Friday on Today and will also include former first lady Laura Bush.

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Tribune Acquires TV by The Numbers (TVNewser)
Tribune Digital Ventures has agreed to acquire TV by the Numbers for an undisclosed amount. TV by the Numbers has partnered with Zap2it, the Tribune-owned television news and listings site, since 2010. With Tribune’s acquisition of TV by the Numbers, Zap2it will be relaunched “with a renewed focus on helping TV fans discover programs to watch across linear TV and streaming services.”

NBC’s Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers Remain Dominant in Month Two (Variety)
NBC’s new late-night combo of Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers continues to shine in the ratings well into their second month together. According to Nielsen estimates for March 24-28, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon averaged a 1.33 rating in adults 18-49 last week (roughly 1.7 million in this age group), beating the combined 18-49 scores of ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live (0.65) and CBS’ Late Show With David Letterman (three-night average of 0.53 due to college basketball overruns on Thursday and Friday). And in total viewers, its 4.306 million kept it comfortably on top of both Letterman (2.856 million) and Kimmel (2.694 million).

Guardian Staffers Win Top IRE Prize for NSA Series (Poynter / MediaWire)
The Investigative Reporters & Editors medal for 2014 goes to Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Ewen MacAskill and others for the Guardian’s reports on the NSA, which “revealed a story that continues to reverberate in the United States and across the globe,” the judges say. (Greenwald and Poitras now work for Pierre Omidyar’s First Look Media.) ProPublica got an FOI Award for its series on revelations from government drug data.

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Publish date: April 4, 2014 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT