John Butte is out as exec producer of Buena Vista Television’s one-hour weekly newsmag “The Crusaders,” the syndicator confirmed late Monday.
The syndicator will temporarily replace Butte with former “A Current Affair” exec producer and network news producer John Terenzio, who was named as a consultant to the show in December. A full-time replacement is expected to be named shortly.
Butte informed staffers of the change at an emotional meeting late Monday afternoon after rumors of his departure leaked throughout the newsroom.
According to sources, Butte said he would be working with BVTV on some development projects and that Terenzio would move into the exec producer chair on an interim basis.
As previously reported, Terenzio was initially offered the exec producer position, but turned it down to concentrate on his Florida-based production company.
BVTV execs could not be reached for comment at press time, but are still believed to be firmly behind the costly rookie newsmag. It has enjoyed the support of stations, which consider it to be the next step in the newsmag genre.
“The Crusaders,” the first major in-house firstrun production produced by the Disney syndie subsid to make it to a second season (“Live With Regis & Kathie Lee”originated on WABC-TV in New York), is a candidate to become a strip in fall 1995.
A BVTV spokesman said Butte “achieved his personal goal of launching the show ,” but others say that the show has been plagued by production problems.
One of the most glaring examples came during the November sweeps, when BVTV found that most of its best episodes had already aired in October.
Although the change will put Terenzio in the driver’s seat during the critical February sweeps, his influence has already been felt.
Since his arrival, “The Crusaders” has lessened the number of anchors and broadened its scope. It’s also become a little more glitzy, recruiting celebrities and pro football teams to crusade on such issues as the successful guns-for-merchandise trade program.
Additionally, it has made more of an effort to cover issues on a timely basis , as evidenced by its recent earthquake coverage.
The program has enjoyed higher ratings in recent weeks — reaching a record 5 .8 national Nielsen rating in early January — but it could be in for a rough ride this month because of Winter Olympics preemptions.
Terenzio, although associated with “ACA,” has an extensive background in TV news. He served as exec producer of NBC’s weekend “Nightly News” editions and oversaw specials for the web.
Butte, who was well-regarded by staff members, came to “The Crusaders” from NBC affiliate WFLA in Tampa, Fla., where he served as news director.