George Stephanopoulos was announced Thursday as the new anchor of ABC's "Good Morning America," but he was offered the job two weeks ago. What took him so long to make his decision?
Stephanopoulos told the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz that it was a "terribly hard" decision because he didn't want to leave Washington.
"Ali and I and the girls love Washington," he said, referring to his wife, Ali Wentworth, and their daughters, Elliott and Harper. "That's what made it so difficult. . . . To have to leave Washington and eventually give up 'This Week' was terribly hard for me."
Kurtz reports that Stephanopoulos will commute to New York — where he and Wentworth are reportedly shopping for a $40,000/month rental — and return to DC on weekends, where his wife and daughters will remain through the end of the school year. The family will then move to New York.
Stephanopoulos will also become ABC's chief political correspondent, a move he pushed for so as not to lose touch with his hard news, DC roots.
The Los Angeles Times' Matea Gold reports that Stephanopoulos' decision to join "GMA" reflects his "firm grasp of the realpolitik of network television: that dollars rule."
"GMA" may lag behind NBC's powerhouse "Today" (which marks its 14th year in first place today), but the show is still the top revenue generator for the news division. And when network executives ask you to take over for a superstar like Diane Sawyer, it's difficult to turn them down -- especially if you're as driven as Stephanopoulos, who colleagues say is savvy about diversifying his experience in order to enhance his broadcasting skills.
And of course, the move sets him up as Diane Sawyer's replacement-in-waiting (as well as her permanent substitute); both Charlie Gibson and Sawyer were "Good Morning America" hosts before taking the evening news anchor chair.
Bob Thompson, director of Syracuse University's Center for the Study of Popular Television, told TVNewser that the "GMA" job is "the price [Stephanopoulos] has to pay to be the face of ABC News in the future. It's the quickest way."
TVNewser also cites ABC insiders in reporting that Stephanopoulos' contract stipulates that he can leave ABC if he is passed over for the "World News" job should Sawyer exit the position.