Thursday, March 09, 2006

Is Diane Sawyer ABC's New Poised, Creamy Insincere Anchor?


"A poised, creamy insincerity" (image via MSN)

The Anchormen are Dead: Long Live the Anchorwomen! As the Elvin Katie Couric continues to be anti-courted by Les Moonves for the CBS anchor slot, she may face stiff competition from ABC's Diane Sawyer, whose "poised, creamy insincerity" was famously remarked upon by Alessandra Stanley. Already there are calls of "catfighting."

Diane Sawyer has been on the anchor radar for quite some time now. "Poised, creamy insincerity" notwithstanding, this sounds like a done deal and a slam-dunk of a choice for the suits at ABC headquarters, who have been having bad luck over the creepily jinxy spot since Peter Jennings suddenly fell to lung cancer -- just 4 months after announcing it on the air. Then, of course, Bob Woodruff's tragic convoy attack in Iraq. The ABC anchor chair seems positively haunted. Until now. According to Roger Friedman at Fox411:

"Are we about to see a catfight on the evening news?

"My sources now say that Diane Sawyer has secured the position of anchor of the nightly ABC network news show at 6:30 p.m. This, sadly, is because newly appointed anchor Bob Woodruff is recuperating from his terrible accident in Iraq. In addition, his co-anchor, Elizabeth Vargas, is pregnant."

This is sure to start a debate about career-path versus having children. Of course women can, and do, do both; but in the hypercompetitive -- and hyper-observed -- TV News fishbowl, we ought to be asking the question: Is it possible to get to the top of the network news food-chain AND have children, if you are a woman.

Merideth Vieira, then at "60 Minutes (and, coincidentally, Diane Sawyer's replacement)," also faced difficult times navigating maternity leave, day care and, most importantly, the infamously grueling schedule at CBSNews. Ultimately Vieira left, but not without painting a particularly damning portrait of Don Hewitt and Mike Wallace -- who were the proximate causes of her leaving -- as leathery old bastards intent on making a young mother's life miserable in the newsroom. Having babies, they seemed to be implying, is for sissies; CBS News should be priority-one.

But we digress. Back to Diane:

"Diane, coveted by all the networks, has apparently campaigned so hard for the 6:30 p.m. job that she's finally gotten it. As much as we love her, it's not like Diane was first choice, however. Bob and Liz were first and second, followed by Diane's 'Good Morning America' co-anchor, Charlie Gibson.

"But Charlie couldn't get the contract he wanted, which left Diane the default choice of ABC News chief David Westin.

"According to what I've been told, Diane and ABC are so desperate to steal Katie Couric's thunder that they will get her in the anchor chair very quickly. Katie is still under contract to NBC, and can't even begin negotiations until May 15. By that time, Diane � who's been rotating with Gibson � could be settled in on a permanent basis."

More here.

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