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ABC News expected to up Friedman

“ABC World News Tonight” executive producer Paul Friedman is expected to be named a vice president of ABC News early next week.

According to ABC sources, the leading candidate to succeed Friedman at “World News” is the newscast’s senior producer Dennis Dunlavey.

Another candidate reportedly in the running is “Primetime Live” senior producer Betsy West.

But ABC News insiders say that whoever gets the nod will need the approval of Peter Jennings. The “World News” anchor is currently reporting from war-torn Bosnia and it’s unlikely there will be any announcement on Friedman’s replacement before he returns.

Friedman was not available for comment.

Friedman, who just completed an unprecedented five-year stint at helm of the web’s flagship newscast, is credited with driving “World News” into its dominant position in the evening news race.

The newscast fought its way to the No. 1 position in the 1989 season and has held that position ever since.

With Jennings in the anchor chair, Friedman devised a blueprint for the newscast that moved away from a straight “news of the day” presentation, featuring a more analytical approach, with such regular features as “American Agenda” and “Person of the Week.”

The structure Friedman put in place was soon imitated by his competitors at “NBC Nightly News” and the “CBS Evening News.”

Friedman’s ascension to the executive suites comes at time of retrenchment at ABC, which is expected to include cutbacks at the news division.

ABC News insiders see Friedman as the key lieutenant to the division’s No. 2 Stephen Weiswasser, who was brought in by Capital Cities/ABC chieftains last year to trim costs.

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