NBC News is bringing a veteran CBS and BBC journalist on board to run Brian Williams' new newsmagazine, which it hopes to get on the air this fall.
The network said Wednesday it has hired Rome Hartman to be executive producer of its newsmagazine, which doesn't have a name yet. Hartman most recently developed and produced "BBC World News America." Before that, he spent more than 24 years at CBS News, much of it at "60 Minutes," and he also launched Katie Couric's newscast there.
It will be the first new broadcast newsmagazine since CBS started "60 Minutes II" in 1998. That spinoff of TV's first newsmagazine lasted until 2005.
"This is just an opportunity that comes along once in a career," said Hartman. He reports to David Corvo, the executive producer of "Dateline NBC," who was promoted to senior executive producer of primetime news, supervising both of NBC's newsmagazines.
Corvo said NBC Universal's new bosses at Comcast had encouraged the network's news division to try some new things. Despite the network's prolonged slump as the nation's fourth-rated broadcast network in prime-time, the news division has remained broadcast television's healthiest, with Williams solidifying his status as the business' most popular anchor.
The newsmagazine has no spot on NBC's fall schedule. But with all of NBC's prime-time troubles, it shouldn't be too hard to find room once it's ready.
Williams will anchor the one-hour telecast, which will reflect his interests as well as draw in people from NBC News' properties at CNBC and MSNBC.
"We want to see Brian's strengths as a reporter and an interviewer, as a guy who has a great sense of what America is interested in, cares about and ought to hear about," Hartman said. "We want it to be smart, lively and entertaining."
Each hour-long show will cover multiple topics, in part to contrast it with "Dateline NBC." Most of that show's episodes are single-topic stories told in narrative form.
Corvo said he was interested in Hartman because the producer has experience with starting up new newscasts, and he has worked in both live television and with more crafted stories like those that appear on "60 Minutes."
Currently, "Dateline NBC" is the newest network newsmagazine on the air, and it has its 20-year anniversary next year.