You are in a hard pressed situation, Sweet Princes of The Mouse House. But a cornered animal is an animal without alternative avenues of escape and thus is an animal at its most dangerous. Only with the cunning of the fox can you extricate yourself from these grim precincts. Gird your loins with steel, Ye Sons of Walt, and head out to the field of battle!
You've promised the ABC News division the Nightline slot when all of us here know that the Entertainment division must needs have it. Logic dictates that this be so. You were over-scared at the media reaction to handing over such a journalistic institution to an entertainment division. To go back on such a promise now will incur the wraith of J-School professors and the influential chattering classes.
Prepare to go back on that promise. You are about to become public enemy number one on C-Span at 1AM, and the scourge of Harvard Conferences on "The State of the Media." We think you will survive such an ordeal. Perhaps there is some sort of compromise that can be brokered between the News and Entertainment division, a la The Daily Show? ABC could use a "Dino Ironbody." Les Moonves appears to be thinking along those lines, so it can't be a bad idea.
At least a hundred million dollars of revenue is involved here. Ratings and the possibility of capturing a young demographic are also important. ABC is a part of The Mouse House which, must I remind you, is a publicly traded company in the business of generating profits. There is no way you can turn a blind eye to the prospects of those kinds of numbers just to keep the Mandarins of DC and NY happy with some "serious network late-night journalism." Besides, how many of those fuckers actually watch Koppel or Brian Williams? Sure, the Deans of the J-School might watch. But do you really think Cokie Roberts or RW Appel is watching Ted Koppel at 11:30 at night? More likely, they are at a Georgetown dinner party, or at an event on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, or, like most Americans of their class, just snuggling up to an Alfred Hitchcock DVD at home with their loved ones.
The Hollywood Reporter wrote, "First Tom Brokaw, then Dan Rather, now Ted Koppel," and you can add the honorable Peter Jennings to that list, marginally, as he will no longer be doing things full time, with Charles Gibson and Elizabeth Vargas as Jennings' primary substitutes on the Evening News. Let's face it: The Evening News genre is dead. Now, we have to find a way to quiet the influential voices of the naysayers.ABC News Now relaunching in July as a 24 hour news station is a good beginning. Give the David Westin free reign over the station. Bring in some J-School professors and Deans as ombudsmen (Ombudspeople?) from the big schools. Do Howard Kurtz-like media navel gazing shows on there; let every major DC-NY journo some screen time. Give the journo's big orgasms. Make ABC News Now the dream station of the chattering classes. Create another "The Huntley-Brinkley Report,? if you wish. You have nothing to lose and lots of free positive press to gain.
And while this is going on, launch a smart and witty cross between "The Daily Show" and SNL's "Weekend Update" in the place of Nightline. Get some good writers for this. The host is key here -- find an attractive, smart, wry actor/comedian for this (David Duchovny?). Maybe try a Tina Fey-Jimmy Fallon-like masculin/feminin duo up in that bitch. Involve the better parts of the blogosphere as writers for the show. There's a "Corsair blog" that you might want to consult on this. I hear good things about it. If you give the News division ABC News Now 24/7, chances are they will roll over at the loss of the 11:30 time slot on the network.
But you and I both know that the Entertainment division gets the Nightline slot. Let's be realistic here, my friends.