ABC takes Ross off of ‘Primetime’

Producer to develop new programming across net

NEW YORK — “Primetime Live” executive producer Shelley Ross has been reassigned within ABC amid slumping ratings and reports of staff unrest.

In a joint statement with Ross, ABC News prexy David Westin said the former “Good Morning America” producer would develop new programming for all divisions across the network.

Although she will be developing ideas for the entertainment side of the network as well as news, Ross will remain based in New York and continue to report to ABC News senior veep Phyllis McGrady.

David Sloan, executive producer of “20/20,” will take over “Primetime” on an interim basis. There is no timetable to appoint a permanent successor.

The move makes “Primetime” the second troubled newsmagazine without a permanent executive producer. CBS execs are waiting to appoint a topper for “60 Minutes Wednesday” until the skein is renewed for another season.

Other than the original “60 Minutes,” newsmags are struggling, with CBS’ “48 Hours” and “60 Minutes Wednesday” and ABC’s “Primetime Live” on the bubble.

ABC sources insist “Primetime Live” and “20/20” will be back next season despite poor ratings. The shows finished first and second in the 25-54 demographic during February sweeps, but ratings are off precipitously from last year.

Ross has worked at the Alphabet for 16 years and is credited with spearheading the turnaround at “Good Morning America,” but co-workers at “Primetime” chafed under her management style and complained the show suffered.

But Ross has equally strong allies at the network, including Diane Sawyer. “Shelley is filled with so much creativity — so many big and bold ideas,” Sawyer said.

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