When news broke Wednesday Diane Sawyer would be taking over for a retiring Charlie Gibson as anchor of ABC’s World News, one reason it seemed so abrupt was there appeared to be no immediate plan for how the network would fill the huge hole left on Good Morning America.
In a New York Times interview the next day, GMA Executive Producer Jim Murphy promised that “further big changes are to come,” so – let the speculation begin. Who takes Sawyer’s old gig? It’s time for another edition of Mediaite Oddsmakers:
• Chris Cuomo – 4:1 – Cuomo has moved up the ranks at ABC News and is now considered a “co-anchor” of GMA. But it’s a big leap from the third spot to taking over Sawyer’s seat. It’s a natural move for the program, although it doesn’t exactly mean “big changes” like Murphy said. Still, making the move allows for another bigger name, but potentially less ready to step into Sawyer’s role, to take over for Cuomo. The following odds are based on the person taking Sawyer’s job, not Cuomo’s, although many on the list could take the secondary role if Cuomo is officially promoted.
• Kate Snow – 6:1 – Snow is currently the Diane Sawyer of the weekend for GMA. Besides that role, she sharpened her hard news/political chops during the ’08 campaign. The downside here is this move would be essentially “splash-less,” since Snow is in the ABC News family. But it’s a safe choice.
• Ashleigh Banfield – 9:1 – Banfield is an anchor on TruTV, but it wouldn’t be a stretch to consider her a free agent. Banfield was a rising star at MSNBC, and certainly needs to be in the conversation when big gigs like this come up. She’s also getting a huge response in TVNewser’s poll about Sawyer’s replacement.
• Campbell Brown – 19:2 – Brown was in the discussion to take over for Katie Couric when she left NBC’s Today show. But the job went to Meredith Vieira, and Brown went to CNN. Her 8pmET show consistently finishes 3rd in the ratings (behind FNC and MSNBC) and sometimes even behind sister network HLN. She’d be a big enough name to draw serious attention, and the “morning show redemption” storyline would be strong as she goes head-to-head against NBC.
• Alexis Glick – 10:1 – Another potential Couric replacement at the time, Glick ended up at Fox News. She’s not only an on-air personality for Fox Business Network, but an exec as well. But she just lost her timeslot to Don Imus on FBN, and she appears periodically on GMA as well. This would be a big steal from a powerhouse like Fox.
• Gayle King – 12:1 – Here’s our sleeper pick for the spot. Oprah Winfrey is an ABCer already, and her BFF has been a “special correspondent” for GMA in the past. She’s the biggest “star” on the list, and would certainly help as ABC tries to unseat longtime first place network NBC in the morning.
• George Stephanopoulos – 15:1 – This is a popular pick by people we’ve talked to since the Sawyer announcement was made, but I don’t get it. He’s got a great gig as anchor of ABC’s Sunday show This Week, and is consistently edging closer to first-place NBC’s Meet the Press. But he’s a big star at ABC, and if the network thinks it can capitalize on the success of Stephanopoulos on Sunday into a regular weekday role, they may move him to the program that is their cash cow.
• Daryn Kagan: 17:1 – Kagan is currently a free agent, and a pretty big name. The former CNN star is hard at work with DarynKagan.com and various other contributing roles, including to Oprah’s satellite radio network.
• Bianna Golodryga – 18:1 – If ABC wants to go the Erin Burnett route with their financial correspondent, Golodryga would be the choice. Burnett seems to be getting groomed for a broader role with NBC, and Golodryga already regular appears on GMA. It may be too early for her to get the Sawyer role, but she could slide into Cuomo’s if he gets promoted.
• Kelly Ripa – 24:1 – This was a fun choice someone suggested. She’s on ABC already, and she’d get to expand her reach even further. Does she want to do “news” though? Probably not.
• Natalie Morales – 30:1 – The NBC star has been mentioned in discussions for an expanded role at her current network, but it hasn’t happened yet. Since she’s a current anchor at NBC, the move would be a big steal for the competing network.
• Cameron Mathison – 35:1 – He has guest hosted before, and he would appeal to the large female base that tunes into GMA every day. (GMA, more than even Today and CBS’ The Early Show, is viewed as a program geared toward a female viewership.)
• Charlie Gibson – 50:1 – Okay, let’s just say this hypothetically were to occur: Gibson wants to retire, but doesn’t want to leave the network. As it gets closer to January and his exit, ABC brass isn’t happy with the options for a GMA anchor to replace Sawyer. So they turn to Gibson, who has taken one for the team in the past, to assume a “temporary” role in the morning. It would boost GMA and keep Gibson on the air, even if it’s for six months to a year. Probably not going to happen. But with the amount of information we know about the ABC shuffle, anything is possible.
Have a tip we should know? firstname.lastname@example.org