Discovery Channel president Rich Ross had only been on the job 72 hours when he appeared at TCA winter press tour this week, but he already had plenty of ideas about how to stem the network’s eroding ratings. As I wrote at Adweek,
The key, he said, will to be “authentic.”
“It’s really important that we look into this incredible brand and all the programming that we make and make sure that’s what we stand for,” he told journalists at the Television Critics Association winter press tour. “And it’s a filter in which we’re looking at everything we have on the air and everything we’re talking about moving forward.”
That means no more silly stunts like December’s Eaten Alive special. As Ross promised, “I don’t believe you’ll be seeing a person eaten by a snake during my time.”
After last fall’s runaway success of Serial, the race was on to see what company would be first to launch its own version of the true-crime podcast. It looks like the winner will be Investigation Discovery, which announced plans for its own true-crime podcast today at the TCA’s winter press tour.
Henry Schleiff, ID’s Group President, didn’t share too many details about the podcast onstage, but he gave me some scoop afterwards about the project, which he’s fast-tracking for this spring even though he hasn’t yet settled on a subject, or host.
“I think we were all surprised by the amount of press and attention—and indeed some of the viewership, or ‘soundship’—that the podcast got,” explained Schleiff, who credits a lesson he learned from the late Don Hewitt, who created 60 Minutes. “He used to say about 60 Minutes, ‘If you can turn off the video and just listen to the voices, you’ve still got a great story.’ You put that learning and you put the experience of podcasts together and we said, great, we tell stories really well, why don’t we do our own version, and we’ll do a multi-arc podcast.”
Schleiff also shared some possible hosting ideas: could Susan Lucci be the new Sarah Koenig?
Jay Leno is signing off from The Tonight Show Thursday — for good this time, he swears — and he said he’s had “all kinds of offers” for his next TV job. He says he has nothing planned yet, but as I note at NBCNews.com:
But a notorious workaholic like Leno — who squeezed in 100 stand-up gigs last year in addition to his regular ‘”Tonight Show” hosting duties — won’t simply be putting his feet up in retirement.
I suggest seven different networks that might be a good fit for him — and why.