June 13, 2006

NBC News legal eagle Abrams named MSNBC boss

By Paul J. Gough

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - NBC News reached in front
of the camera on Monday to pick chief legal correspondent and
anchor Dan Abrams as the new chief of MSNBC, replacing recently
departed MSNBC president Rick Kaplan.

The move will take Abrams away from his 4-year-old
legal-themed "Abrams Report" to take command of NBC's sister
cable news channel along with NBC News senior vice president
Phil Griffin.

Abrams will be the day-to-day manager of MSNBC from its
Secaucus, N.J., headquarters and report to Griffin, who retains
his post as supervising executive in charge of NBC's top-rated
morning show, "Today," a role he has fulfilled to much success
in the year since he has had the job.

Both Abrams and Griffin will report to NBC News president
Steve Capus, who noted in an interview that he, Griffin and
Abrams all came out of MSNBC.

"We know the organization, we know its strengths, and each
of us are committed to it reaching new heights," Capus said,
adding that NBC News executives wanted someone familiar with
MSNBC who would not advocate starting from scratch.

The management change comes as the NBC Universal-owned
cable network has made some ratings headway yet remains far
behind rivals CNN and the Fox News Channel.

"Look at the landscape of the media world these days. These
are unconventional times, and unconventional times call for
unconventional choices," Capus said. "We have chosen to go with
somebody who knows MSNBC inside and out, who knows NBC News
extremely well and who we think can help manage and grow the

Abrams said in an interview Monday that he hadn't settled
into the job yet and wouldn't discuss specific details as to
what he will do as MSNBC's general manager.

"It's going to be building on the successes we've had so
far, then adding a bit of excitement, making it a bit more
vibrant," Abrams said.

Griffin identified two MSNBC successes -- "Hardball" and
"Countdown" -- and said that they embody the aggressive
producing and quality shows for which the channel is striving.
He said the channel's "sweet spot" of politics will be even
sweeter in this year's midterm elections as well as 2008.

"We have the momentum, we've gained momentum," Griffin
said. "We're going to build on it."

The changes at MSNBC were being addressed in a town
hall-style meeting with employees at the channel's headquarters
at noontime Monday.

Abrams is a graduate of Duke University and Columbia law
school who joined MSNBC in 1997 as a correspondent. He has
covered the legal fight over the 2000 election, the trials of
Scott Peterson and Michael Jackson and the impeachment of
President Clinton.

Griffin's posts have included vp primetime programming at
MSNBC and executive producer of "Hardball With Chris Matthews."

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter