Brown gets CNN primetime gig
EmptyNEW YORK -- CNN confirmed Monday that departing NBC News correspondent Campbell Brown will join the channel for a primetime show beginning in November. CNN-U.S. president Jon Klein refused to confirm speculation that Brown's program would be taking the slot of the low-rated "Paula Zahn Now."
The rumors of the demise of "Paula Zahn Now" have been around much longer than the speculation that Brown would leave NBC for CNN when her contract expires Thursday. Brown told her "Weekend Today" viewers on Sunday that she would be moving on.
NBC News still wanted to keep Brown, though CNN was able to work out with NBC the terms of Brown's departure that included a clause that will keep her off CNN until November. The 39-year-old Brown, who has worked for NBC a decade and has been White House correspondent and Brian Williams' designated sub on "NBC Nightly News," will work for about a month on the air for CNN before having her first child, due in late December.
In a conference call with reporters, Klein wouldn't say that "Paula Zahn Now" would be canceled. He said that a formal announcement about scheduling would be coming within several days. The ratings-challenged show has been consistently beaten not only by Fox News Channel's "The O'Reilly Factor" but also by MSNBC's "Countdown With Keith Olbermann" and CNN Headline News' "Nancy Grace."
"She's going to be anchoring a show, it's going to be airing in the evenings, and we'll be announcing it shortly," Klein said. "We want to go about this just the right way. We'll be disclosing details pretty shortly." Klein refused to discuss more details in a barrage of questions about the timing.
"We're talking about Campbell today, we'll talk about everybody else another day," Klein said.
Brown's bow will be what Klein called "talk focused," with many interviews. Klein said "it'll be a lively look at the events that are happening at the moment ... It'll show a lot of her personality and her intellect."
For her part, Brown said it was bittersweet to leave NBC, but she was excited by the opportunity.
"It's an opportunity to build a show from scratch and put my mark on it, to cover stories I'm passionate about. It was just a different kind of opportunity. For me to stay at NBC would have been staying in a pretty comfortable role for me."
Because of the impending birth of her child and the demands made by NBC News, Brown will only be on the air for about a month or so before the birth. She'll start work at CNN behind the scenes in September. Brown said she'd have to take some time off after the baby arrives but was looking forward to covering the big primaries early next year. Klein said the time she would miss after the birth of her child would be only a blip.
Brown has had a distinguished career at NBC, where she joined as a correspondent for NBC News Channel in 1996 after working at local affiliates in Topeka, Kan., Richmond, Va., Baltimore and Washington. She moved to NBC News in Washington in 1998 and covered then- President Clinton's impeachment trial as well as being Pentagon correspondent and later White House correspondent during the first Bush administration.
Most recently, she co-anchored "Weekend Today" and was a correspondent at "NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams," substituting for Williams when he was away.