NEW YORK — Veteran CNN exec Gail Evans, who heads up program and talent development at the news cabler, will retire in early June.
Since joining CNN at its inception in 1980 as a freelance talent booker, Evans, 60, rose through the ranks to executive VP of the CNN News Group.
News comes amid exec shuffle at the net, which, as of last month, reports to recently appointed TBS chief executive Jamie Kellner. Financial news anchor and exec Lou Dobbs, another CNN pioneer, will rejoin the network in May. CNN corporate VP Julia Sprunt, who has been with the network since its inception, recently announced she will retire this month.
Evans said she plans to spend more time with her family and will work on a sequel to her best-selling nonfiction book “Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman,” which was published last year by Broadway Books.
“This is 100% a personal decision. I have always wanted to retire at 60. For family reasons, it’s the right thing to do,” said Evans in an interview with Daily Variety. “I plan to spend my time sitting in the backyard at my swimming pool and working on my book.”
After her departure in June, Evans said she will stay on as a consultant for a short time.
Evans, who is in charge of CNN’s guest bookings department, also oversees talkshows for the news net. She played a key role in developing “Talk Back Live,” the interactive, live, daily talkshow, and “Burden of Proof,” the first daily legal talkshow.
“Gail has played a key role in bringing to our air literally every world leader and public figure of note over the course of two decades,” said CNN founder Ted Turner, now vice chairman of CNN parent company AOL Time Warner.
Evans has been a close confidante of CNN News Group chairman and CEO Tom Johnson, with whom she worked in the Lyndon B. Johnson White House, where Evans was instrumental in the creation of the President’s Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity. Prior to joining CNN, Evans headed up a research and marketing firm.