- - 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.

Superior Court Judge Stephen Moloney told attorneys for Miss Kardashian and NBA player Kris Humphries to return to court in mid-February to set a trial date to either dissolve or annul the couple’s 72-day marriage. He didn’t set a deadline for depositions and other pretrial investigations to be completed, but indicated a trial could be held early next year if they are ready by Feb. 15.

Mr. Humphries, a power forward for the Brooklyn Nets, is seeking an annulment based on fraud, but his attorney said he needs more time to collect documents from companies that handle Miss Kardashian’s reality shows.

Miss Kardashian is seeking a traditional divorce, and her attorney Laura Wasser has cited the marriage’s short duration and a prenuptial agreement as reasons for why it should be resolved quickly.

“I don’t think his client has a fraud case,” Ms. Wasser said in court of Mr. Humphries’ attorney. “I think there’s a fishing expedition going on here.”

Mr. Humphries’ attorney Marshall Waller said he needed to be sure he had documents from E! Entertainment and NBC Universal before deciding the scope of his case, but that he was narrowing it down.

Miss Kardashian filed for divorce more than a year ago, citing irreconcilable differences just weeks after the couple’s star-studded and televised wedding. Mr. Humphries later filed for an annulment, claiming the marriage was based on fraud, but he has not laid out any specific evidence for his claim.

Miss Kardashian, 32, is the star of the E! Entertainment Television series “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” the network’s top-rated show, which averaged more than 3 million viewers in its sixth season. She also appears on other series involving her family.

Shatner to attend ceremony to retire Navy’s Enterprise

Captain James T. Kirk will be on hand when the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise is officially retired.

A publicist for William Shatner told the Daily Press that the actor will attend the ship’s inactivation ceremony Saturday at Naval Station Norfolk, Va. Mr. Shatner is scheduled to perform Friday in Newport News, Va.

Mr. Shatner played Captain Kirk at the helm of the starship Enterprise in the “Star Trek” television series and several movies.

The world’s first-nuclear powered aircraft carrier returned to Norfolk from its final deployment earlier this month. Saturday’s inactivation will be its last public ceremony.

Compiled from Web and wire reports

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