Zucker Makes Mark, Starts CNN Makeover

Begins Network Revamp with Key Personnel Decisions

It didn’t take long for Jeff Zucker to start the overhaul of CNN.

The newly minted CNN World- wide president cleaned house last week by letting go several on-air personalities while hiring new faces, such as ABC News reporter Chris Cuomo. Mark Whitaker, the network’s executive vice president and managing editor, also resigned, clear- ing the way for Zucker to develop his own core of executives and on-air personalities as he looks to turn around the news net- work’s ratings.

Whitaker, who joined CNN in 2011 and oversaw the network’s editorial coverage but was unable to build ratings mo- mentum for the network in primetime, said of his departure in a staff memo: “We have a new leader with his own forceful ideas about where to take CNN’s reporting, programming and brand. For him to succeed, I believe he deserves his own team and management structure and the freedom to communicate one clear vision to the staff.”

Along with Whitaker, CNN political contributors James Carville and Mary Matalin also departed CNN last week, as did on-air contributor Erick Erickson.

Zucker’s moves last week weren’t all executive exits. Cuomo will wake up CNN’s morning news block in a new role with the cable network. Cuomo, cur- rently co-host of ABC News’ 20/20, will have a “major role in a new CNN morning show and across the network,” according to CNN officials.

The move follows a pair of other high-profile CNN hires from The Walt Disney Co. properties: ABC News White House correspondent Jake Tap- per and veteran ESPN reporter Rachel Nichols.

Cuomo’s hire — reportedly to lead to a new morning show, co-host- ed by primetime anchor Erin Burnett — doesn’t bode well for Starting Point, CNN’s current, low-rated morning news program, hosted by Sole- dad O’Brien. A network spokesperson would only say that “Soledad is very important to the network, and we’re discussing various options with her.”

On the programming front, CNN continued to build its weekend block of nonfiction series by acquiring the Ridley Scott-produced series Crimes of theCentury. The series will profile several events in American history, such as the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, according to the network. The series will join previously announced shows Parts Unknown, starring Anthony Bourdain, and documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock’s Inside Man, both of which will debut this spring.