- - Monday, April 23, 2012

George Stephanopoulos doesn’t really get days off. He gets hours.

The co-host of ABC’s “Good Morning America” during the week and host of the Sunday political talk show “This Week” has both shows at such competitive crossroads this spring that his bosses are reluctant to give him time off.

“GMA” snapped the “Today” show’s 852-week winning streak the week before last, an event that set off parties at ABC (and a congratulatory steak and chocolate cake at the Stephanopoulos household). “This Week” is slowly is gaining ground lost in the ratings when Mr. Stephanopoulos was replaced at that show by Christiane Amanpour in 2010. Mr. Stephanopoulos returned to the show in January.

“For him, it’s a win-win,” said one of those bosses, ABC News executive Jon Banner. “He gets a lot of experiences and is able to dig into what he loves in bits and pieces every day of the week - and try to see his family at some points in between.”

It’s not a schedule built for the long term, but it’s made him the man of the moment at ABC News.

Mr. Stephanopoulos compartmentalizes. He’s in before dawn on weekdays to prepare for “Good Morning America,” and is on the air between 7 and 9 a.m. Then he takes some time off, maybe goes to the gym. His afternoons are spent on political reporting for “World News” and lining up Sunday guests. Friday afternoon is his time of intense study for “This Week,” although that usually spills into Saturdays. Sunday is the show.

Oddly enough, only a small number of ABC viewers are aware of this schedule.

“In the last three months, I’ve had all these people come up to me on the street and say, ‘I’m so glad you’re back at ABC,’ ” Mr. Stephanopoulos said. “That’s the Sunday audience. My [weekday] morning audience has no idea that I’m on on Sunday. It’s just different worlds. The overlap is very small.”

If Mr. Stephanopoulos experienced any buyer’s remorse about “Good Morning America,” he doesn’t say so. He extracted a promise from then-ABC News President David Westin when named co-host with Robin Roberts in December 2009 that the show would toughen up and become more newsy.

Since then, “GMA” has arguably gone in the opposite direction, particularly during the second hour.

“I was expecting different, there’s no question about that,” Mr. Stephanopoulos said. “I wasn’t sure how it was going to go. You never can be. But I’ve been pleasantly surprised that we’ve been able to make as much progress as we have.”

With a looser format, Mr. Stephanopoulos said that if he thinks a story is silly he can readily say so on the air.

“George wants to win in the morning, like we all do, and George understands that a morning television show has different parts at different times in the morning,” said Tom Cibrowski, senior executive producer of “Good Morning America.” “I would contend that the program is just as newsy as it always has been.

“George has had the opportunity to interview countless presidents and newsmakers since he’s been there. There’s nothing he likes more than being able to drive the news cycle with his interviews.”

E! News host Giuliana Rancic preparing to welcome baby

Giuliana and Bill Rancic are having a baby. The child will be born later this summer via a gestational surrogate, meaning the baby will be genetically theirs but carried by another woman.

E! News first reported the news that they are expecting.

Last fall, 37-year-old Mrs. Rancic announced she had breast cancer and later underwent a double mastectomy. She did not need chemotherapy.

She is the host of E! News. Mr. Rancic is a 40-year-old entrepreneur and motivational speaker who won the first season of Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice.”

Together, they co-star in a reality show on the Style Network called “Giuliana & Bill.” Much of the show has been devoted to their fertility issues.

Chaz Bono’s documentary wins at GLAAD Media Awards

Chaz Bono picked up a pair of trophies at the GLAAD Media Awards.

The 43-year-old transgender activist and author was honored with the outstanding documentary prize and Stephen F. Kolzak Award at the 23rd annual Media Awards for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. Mr. Bono won along with directors Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato for “Becoming Chaz,” the OWN documentary that chronicled his gender transition.

Mr. Bono, who was the first-ever transgender contestant on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” last year, also was given the Stephen F. Kolzak Award, which is given by GLAAD to a gay, bisexual or transgender member of the entertainment community. Past winners include Ellen DeGeneres, Rufus Wainwright, Wanda Sykes, John Waters and Melissa Etheridge.

Other honorees at Saturday night’s ceremony at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in downtown Los Angeles were ABC’s “Modern Family” for comedy series, the Focus Features drama “Beginners” starring Ewan McGregor and supporting actor Oscar winner Christopher Plummer for wide-release film, and Lifetime’s “Drop Dead Diva” and TV Land’s “Hot in Cleveland” in a tie for individual TV episode.

“The Hunger Games” star Josh Hutcherson won the Vanguard Award, which lauds efforts to increase visibility and understanding of the gay, bisexual or transgender community. Earlier this year, he began working with the anti-bullying campaign Straight But Not Narrow. The 19-year-old actor is the youngest recipient to ever win the Vanguard Award.

‘Idol’s‘ Taylor Hicks gets Las Vegas show

“American Idol” season five winner Taylor Hicks is getting his own short-term show on the Las Vegas Strip.

Casino officials announced the Alabama native will headline an eight-week show at Bally’s Las Vegas beginning June 26.

The singer’s show in Las Vegas is a return to where his winning run began in 2005. Mr. Hicks had been in New Orleans the night before Hurricane Katrina struck and was given a free airplane voucher when his flight was canceled.

He used the voucher to fly to Las Vegas, where he auditioned for “American Idol” and ultimately won over viewers with his renditions of southern soul, R&B, country and blues songs.

He’s the first “American Idol” winner or finalist to secure a Las Vegas residency.

Compiled from Web and wire reports

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