Kaplan returns to ABC News

Exec to oversee 'Nightline,' 'Stephanopoulos,' others

NEW YORK — Rick Kaplan is back at ABC News.

Alphabet news prexy David Westin announced Monday that Kaplan will indeed return to the fold, this time as senior veep of news.

Kaplan worked at the Alphabet for 18 years before joining CNN in 1997. At ABC, he exec produced some of the same shows for which he will once again assume responsibility.

Westin has tapped Kaplan to oversee “Nightline,” “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” and the Saturday and Sunday editions of “World News Tonight,” among others.

Kaplan has his work cut out for him; some of the shows are on a ratings decline, such as the Sunday gabber “This Week.”

In August, Kaplan also will begin overseeing “World News Tonight With Peter Jennings.” He also will supervise ABC News’ Political Unit as it prepares to cover the 2004 presidential election.

“I grew up at ABC News, and this is a wonderful homecoming for me,” Kaplan said in a statement. “The finest producers, the most experienced correspondents and anchors in the industry coupled with world class reporting are the foundations of ABC News. I am deeply honored to rejoin their ranks.”

Shortly before the war in Iraq, Westin brought Kaplan on board as a consultant.

The management shuffle at ABC’s news division kicked off earlier this year when news exec veep Paul Friedman stepped down. Kaplan is not assuming Friedman’s post, per se.

Also recently, “World News Tonight With Peter Jennings” exec producer Paul Slavin was put in charge of worldwide newsgathering. The net is expected to hire a new exec producer for the evening newscast this summer.

From 1997-2000, Kaplan ran CNN’s U.S. operations. Upon leaving the cable news net, he took up teaching at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center.

Kaplan will work closely with Slavin, who was recently named senior VP of worldwide newsgathering,. And with ABC News exec Phyllis McGrady, who oversees “Good Morning America,” as well as ABC newsmags “Primetime Thursday” and “20/20.”

The three news execs will report directly to ABC News prexy David Westin.

“Having been the producer of most of the broadcasts he is now charged with leading, Rick Kaplan comes to this new job with the respect and admiration of the news division,” Westin said.