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This story first appeared in the April 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
After scaling the highest corporate peaks, Zucker, 48, has returned to his roots at the helm of the original cable news network.
Even as he was ensconced in the 51st-floor CEO suite at Rockefeller Plaza, home of his former employer NBCUniversal, he was a guiding hand for the company’s news division. He has brought that same hands-on approach to CNN, where he has axed longtime contributors Roland Martin, Bill Bennett and husband-and-wife pundits James Carville and Mary Matalin, hired Chris Cuomo and Jake Tapper from ABC News and Rachel Nichols from ESPN, and spurred the most competitive climate in the TV news business in recent memory, say agents representing TV news talent.
Zucker, a married father of four, has indicated that he’s looking to expand the network’s purview with nonfiction programming (Anthony Bourdain’s wanderlust hour bows April 14) and additional beats on Hollywood and sports.
“News is more than politics and war,” said Zucker upon assuming the job at CNN. “We can’t say everything that we’ve been doing is working, and if we don’t try different things within the legacy of CNN, we won’t succeed.”
FUN FACT: Zucker’s son Andrew, 14, was appointed to the advisory board of Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker’s social media side project, billed as Pinterest for video.