- - Thursday, November 29, 2012

CNN on Thursday named former NBC Universal chief Jeff Zucker as its top executive, searching for a way to turn around the original cable news network as it has lagged behind rivals Fox News Channel and MSNBC.

Mr. Zucker will start in January, be based in New York and report to Phil Kent, who runs all of the Turner networks for parent company Time Warner.

“I spent the most rewarding years of my career as a journalist, and it’s where I look forward to spending many more,” said Mr. Zucker, who shot to fame as the executive producer of NBC’s “Today” show at the start of its morning dynasty in the 1990s.

Mr. Zucker moved on to Hollywood as NBC’s entertainment president, where he was less successful. He became head of NBC Universal, and although he couldn’t turn around NBC, he achieved great financial success for the company by overseeing its profitable cable networks.

One of them was MSNBC, which has become more successful by appealing to a partisan audience, following the model of the market leader at Fox News Channel. CNN has steadfastly maintained a non-biased approach, and its biggest issue has been the same as it has been for two decades: how to get an audience to stay with the network when there is not a big news story dominating the public’s attention.

While a great deal of attention has been paid to CNN’s problems in prime time for its domestic network, Mr. Zucker will command a much larger and more successful portfolio, including HLN, CNN International and the CNN.com website.

Steven Tyler addresses Minaj’s claim of racism

Steven Tyler is apologizing — if Nicki Minaj misinterpreted his recent comments.

The former “American Idol” judge and Aerosmith frontman responded to Miss Minaj’s claim that he is a racist.

Miss Minaj took offense to comments Mr. Tyler made during an MTV interview in which he said Bob Dylan likely would be dismissed immediately from this year’s show.

“Idol” premieres Jan. 16 on the Fox network with Miss Minaj, Mariah Carey and Keith Urban serving as new judges along with holdover Randy Jackson. The rapper called the comment racist and fired an expletive at the Aerosmith frontman, as well.

During an interview with the Canadian entertainment news program “eTalk,” Mr. Tyler spoke directly to Miss Minaj, saying: “I apologize if it was taken wrong, Nicki.

“I am the farthest from — what did she say I was? — a racist,” Mr. Tyler said in the interview. “I’m the last thing on this planet as far as being a racist. I don’t know where she got that out of me saying I’m not sure how she would have judged Bob Dylan. I was just saying that if Bob Dylan came on the show, he would’ve been thrown off, so maybe I spoke out of turn. But a racist I am not, Nicki.”

Kim Kardashian’s divorce inches toward trial date

Kim Kardashian’s divorce attorney told a judge Wednesday that the reality star wants to move on with her life but is “handcuffed” to her estranged husband because the case is not ready for trial.

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