CNN cancels Eliot Spitzer’s prime-time pro­gram


NEW YORK — Eliot Spitzer was bounced from CNN’s prime-time lineup on Wed­nes­day, his ten­ure as a TV host last­ing less than half of his time as New York gov­er­nor.

CNN reshuf­fled its sched­ule to add a new pro­gram by for­mer CNBC per­son­al­ity Erin Bur­nett, move An­der­son Cooper’s flag­ship news­cast into the tough 8 p.m. time slot and elim­i­nate Spitzer’s “In the Arena” pro­gram.

CNN has asked Spitzer about staying with the net­work as a com­men­ta­tor but no de­ci­sion has been made, said Ken Jautz, ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of CNN/ US. Spitzer re­leased a state­ment re­fer­ring to his time at CNN in the past tense.

“We en­gaged se­ri­ous peo­ple in con­ver­sa­tions about na­tional and global is­sues in a way that was in­for­ma­tive and chal­leng­ing,” Spitzer said. “I be­lieve that we pro­vided di­verse and valu­able per­spec­tives dur­ing the show’s ten­ure. I thor­oughly en­joyed my time at CNN.”

Spitzer, who re­signed in March 2008 a lit­tle more than two years into his term as New York gov­er­nor amid a pros­ti­tu­tion scan­dal, be­gan his nightly show on CNN in Oc­to­ber. At first he was paired on “Parker/Spitzer” with con­ser­va­tive colum­nist Kath­leen Parker, who left in Fe­bru­ary. The show was then re­named “In the Arena” with Spitzer the lead per­son­al­ity.

It’s in a tough time slot, where Camp­bell Brown, Con­nie Chung and Paula Zahn all found rough go­ing be­fore him at CNN. Spitzer’s show av­er­aged 595,000 view­ers for the first six months of the year, com­pared to dom­i­nant com­peti­tor Bill O’Reilly at Fox News Chan­nel, who av­er­aged just un­der 3 mil­lion view­ers. MSNBC, first with Keith Ol­ber­mann and then with Lawrence O’Don­nell, av­er­aged 984,000, the Nielsen Co. said.

Spitzer’s av­er­age was ac­tu­ally up 8 per­cent over what the net­work had in that time slot over the first six months of 2010, but the trends were omi­nous. The show’s June av­er­age was 457,000 view­ers, while Nancy Grace on sis­ter net­work HLN had 1.5 mil­lion view­ers in June with her fo­cus on the Casey An­thony trial.

“There has been im­prove­ment for that show but we wanted to see it do more,” Jautz said. “We wanted to see it do bet­ter.”

Cooper’s 10 p.m. news­cast has been CNN’s most suc­cess­ful evening pro­gram, so it will now get the test at 8. Jautz called it CNN’s flag­ship news pro­gram and said it made sense to air it at the crit­i­cal prime-time hour. It also pro­vides a con­trast to com­men­tary-fo­cused shows with O’Reilly, O’Don­nell, Grace and Keith Ol­ber­mann on Cur­rent TV, he said.

CNN will re­run Cooper’s show at 10 p.m. on the East Coast for view­ers used to it at that hour, Jautz said. He said it wasn’t a sign of re­trench­ment for CNN to have a reg­u­lar re­run in prime-time, and that Cooper will re­make part or all of his show at 10 p.m. should break­ing news war­rant. Cooper’s show will switch into that time slot on Aug. 8.

John King’s cur­rent 7 p.m. show will move up an hour to make way for Bur­nett then. Wolf Blitzer’s two-hour “Sit­u­a­tion Room” will air from 4 to 6 p.m. East­ern time. Piers Mor­gan’s show con­tin­ues at 9 p.m.

CNN is shoot­ing for a late Septem­ber pre­miere for Bur­nett’s new pro­gram, which doesn’t have a name. De­spite her busi­ness back­ground at CNBC, her CNN show will be gen­eral in­ter­est, Jautz said.

Page 19 TV Cross­word an­swer: Alex Tre­bek

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