Newman replaces Gibson

New 'Morning' for ABC

ABC News has, as expected, hired Kevin Newman to replace Charles Gibson as co-anchor of its struggling “Good Morning America.”

The network also announced that Shelley Lewis has replaced Mark Lukasiewicz as “GMA’s” executive producer. Lewis has been the show’s deputy executive producer.

Lukasiewicz “will assume a new senior role within ABC News,” according to the network, but no details were revealed.

For weeks, Newman’s name has been mentioned as Gibson’s replacement to join Lisa McRee as co-anchor. The surprise in Monday’s personnel changes involved Gibson, who was expected to join cable network A&E as host of “Biography.” Instead, Gibson will “remain with ABC News and assume a new role to be announced shortly,” said the network.

That role will likely be with an ABC newsmagazine, possibly hosting an additional night of “20/20.” Gibson had been negotiating with A&E, said sources, but the cable network was unwilling to hire him as a “Biography” host if he remained a regular host of an ABC News program.

“GMA” has been a trouble spot for ABC News. The morning show ranks a distant second to NBC’s “Today.”

In the season to date, “Today” has averaged a 5.3 rating/22 share in households, compared to “GMA’s” 3.4/14, according to Nielsen Media Research. “Today” leads in adults 25-54 with a 2.7/24 to “GMA’s” 1.7/15.

ABC is banking that the on-air chemistry between McRee and Newman, who begins as co-anchor May 4, will draw more viewers to the show.

“The linchpin of change in the show has to be the relationship of the hosts,” said Newman, who has been the news anchor for “GMA” since November 1997. “The goal is to do more of a conversation on the kinds of issues that are the concern of families in the late 1990s,” said Lewis. “Things like: Should you allow your kids to watch ‘South Park,’ and what happens when the woman in a relationship makes more than the man? Is the relationship doomed?”

Newman, 38, has been a frequent substitute for Gibson over the past several months. Newman has also anchored and reported on a number of breaking news stories for the network.

Lewis joined ABC News in 1992 as senior producer of “World News Now” and was named executive producer the following year. She produced a number of primetime specials, including an hour on sexual harassment for “PrimeTime Live.”

Prior to joining ABC News, Lewis spent 16 years with NBC News, where she held positions ranging from writer to producer to executive producer.

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