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New Nightline, Same Old Song



As expected, last night's first-ever Koppel-less Nightline was a back-to-the-future move, which saw ABC presenting a live, late-night newsmagazine suspiciously similar to all the other news-lite programs filling cable TV and network primetime.

Hosted mostly by Cynthia McFadden from ABC's glitzy Times Square studios, the program nevertheless had a shut-in feel, with McFadden stuck behind a desk sitting beside a logo like every other TV news show.

(co-hosts Martin Bashir, Terry Moran and Cynthia McFadden)

As legend has it, Koppel recently resisted hosting Nightline live -- reasoning it would be tough to get big-name guests to stay up late, and the benefits of live broadcasting would be negligible. Monday's show proved him right, as McFadden stumbled over an interview with two no-name Catholic priests over the Vatican's new policy barring gays from ordination and seminary, with no perceptible advantages from the live setting.

Granted the first edition of any new program will be rocky. And certainly the first night's lineup of subjects -- Terry Moran's interview with the U.S. ambassador to Iraq in Baghdad, a discussion on gay men barred from the priesthood and tabloid news king Martin Bashir's look at a winning football team at a school for the deaf -- probably looked good on paper.

But this new Nightline -- delayed beyond midnight on the East Coast by Monday Night Football -- seems the worst of all worlds. Rushing from story to story, there was no time to find the in-depth substance of a given topic. The story of one gay priest who must struggle with a religion who demonizes him is a compelling half hour; a two-minute debate between two unknown priests is a segment on Scarborough Country.

Here's hoping the new production team has more up their sleeves -- like breaking some news and telling us stuff we didn't already know or need to know. Otherwise, Koppel's farewell prediction of an entertainment show taking that time slot may come sooner than anyone thinks.

What do you think -- particularly if you saw last night's show?

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:35pm]


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