Hemmer bolts CNN’s ‘Morning’

Skein loses anchor, taps O'Brien

NEW YORK — CNN will lose one of its most familiar faces, Bill Hemmer, in a shakeup of ayem show “American Morning.”

Net has decided to replace Hemmer with “Live From” host Miles O’Brien as part of a remake of the morning show aimed at boosting stagnant ratings.

Hemmer was offered a plum position as chief White House correspondent, replacing John King, who became senior national correspondent. But Hemmer turned the offer down in order to seek an anchor position on another network.

“I’ve enjoyed working with CNN for the past 10 years,” Hemmer said in a statement. “However, at this point in my career, it is time for me to move forward with a new set of challenges.”

Jack Cafferty will move from “American Morning” to the afternoon, where he will provide commentary on the news as part of Wolf Blitzer’s three-hour broadcast, christened “The Situation Room.”

CNN U.S. topper Jonathan Klein said the moves were designed to improve the chemistry on “American Morning” between Soledad O’Brien and her male counterpart, as well as to make it more newsy to distinguish it from the competition on broadcast and cable TV.

“It’s a function of chemistry,” Klein said. “You can have the greatest show in the world, and with the wrong chemistry, no one’s going to watch. I was struck by (Miles O’Brien’s) generosity and ability to share the limelight with a female anchor who is intelligent and lively, and that’s exactly who Soledad is.”

“American Morning” has not seen much ratings success with the Hemmer-Soledad O’Brien partnership. Show averaged 462,000 viewers in May, according to Nielsen Media Research, down from 481,000 when the duo signed on in 2003.

The morning shakeup comes as the news net announced new producers in primetime: Victor Neufeld for “Paula Zahn Now” and David Doss for “Anderson Cooper 360” (Daily Variety, June 6).

Current “Zahn” producer Mark Nelson will become senior exec producer for all editorial content, reporting to Klein, while “AC 360” exec producer Terry Baker will leave the company.

Blitzer’s renamed show replaces “Inside Politics,” “Crossfire” and “Wolf Blitzer Reports.” Both Judy Woodruff, host of “Inside Politics,” and the regular “Crossfire” crew signed off for the last time last week.

“American Morning” is moving from its current studios across Sixth Avenue from Radio City Music Hall to Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle, where it will share a floor with “Paula Zahn Now.”

Hemmer was reportedly offered the White House job weeks ago but told associates he wanted to remain an anchor and considered a move to a field reporting position a demotion.

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