Hero pilot's new heading: CBS

First interview will be for '60 Minutes,' not NBC's 'Today'

NEW YORK -- The ongoing booking war between the networks erupted anew with the news that hero pilot Chesley Sullenberger will tell his story on "60 Minutes" instead of NBC's "Today."

Except for brief remarks Saturday in his hometown of Danville, Calif., the public hasn't yet heard from the US Airways captain who safely landed a full Airbus A320 in the Hudson River after both engines went out as he was departing New York's LaGuardia Airport on Jan. 15. NBC said two days later that it had secured the first interview with Sullenberger, which would take place on "Today."

After heavily promoting the live interview with "Today" co-host Matt Lauer, "Today" had to backtrack. It said Jan. 19 that the interview was postponed. Without giving a reason, it said that the pilots union wanted to give the NTSB investigation a little more time before allowing Sullenberger to speak. He and the other four crewmembers had spoken to NTSB investigators several days before.

NBC said at the time that it had been promised the interview when Sullenberger did talk. But instead, "60 Minutes" and other CBS News outlets grabbed for the first interview. The pilot will be interviewed by Katie Couric, who anchors "CBS Evening News," contributes to "60 Minutes" and is Lauer's former co-host. Sullenberger and the entire crew will be interviewed for a "60 Minutes" episode Feb. 8.

It wasn't immediately clear why the interview changed networks, though if the decision was made based on ratings, "60 Minutes" would be the best bet.

CBS wasn't talking about the circumstances, but NBC was hopping mad Friday.

"What Captain Sullenberger did in the cockpit on Flight 1549 was heroic and admirable. Unfortunately, people close to him have not acted nearly as admirably over the past few days," NBC said. "They gave us their word and then broke their commitment. We wish Captain Sullenberger the best."