CNNfn’s entertainment-industry show has always been about the lighter side of business. But, as Claire Atkinson reports, its new executive producer is looking to get more serious
CNNfn’s entertainment-industry show has always been about the
lighter side of business. But, as Claire Atkinson reports, its new
executive producer is looking to get more serious
When executive producer Margaret Traub-Aguirre started work on CNNfn’s
entertainment-business show Biz Buzz, she did the honorable thing and
bought the staff Krispy Kreme donuts every day for a week.
But though Biz Buzz is about the lighter side of business news, there’s
nothing sugary about Traub-Aguirre. She wants to make it a much harder
news show than it was under her predecessor, senior producer Jill
Abramson, who quit to join Pseudo.com about three months ago.
Traub-Aguirre comes to CNNfn from ABC’s Good Morning America. (Her boss,
Shelby Coffey III, president of CNN Business News and CNNfn, is also new
and from ABC; he took over from Lou Dobbs at the beginning of this
From a makeshift office in the corner of a CNNfn spillover building on
Ninth Avenue in New York (the main location is in Penn Plaza),
Traub-Aguirre says the show won’t be carrying pieces on jewelry
designers in New York’s East Village anymore. Instead there’s a hit list
of entertainment’s movers and shakers that she’s hoping to tempt onto
Fulfilling that task has so far involved doing the New York party
circuit and making the introductions. In July, the new executive
producer was at a Talk magazine party for writer Joe Esztherhas. She
mingled with Talk publisher Ron Galotti and editor-in-chief Tina Brown,
as well as legendary journalist (and Brown’s husband) Harold Evans.
They’re all people she’d like to have on the show.
Traub-Aguirre mentions others, including Joe Roth, the chief of new film
studio Revolution, and possibly the heads of the Hollywood talent
agencies, such as CAA.
To perhaps steal some of CNBC’s thunder, she wants to tie stories more
closely to the markets. ’We’ve been giving the show a harder edge and
making it more in tune with the markets,’ she says.
But not everything has to be directly tied to stocks. Traub-Aguirre says
she’ll look at private companies doing interesting things. But for the
most part Biz Buzz covers music, entertainment, advertising and the
’There was a lot of fashion and sports before. A little of that is fine,
but we want to focus it more on the media and entertainment,’ says the
producer, who is already negotiating with bosses to increase her time
period from 30 minutes to an hour.
Small ratings, big guests
Though ratings for the channel are not available because of its limited
cable distribution, the show doesn’t want for lack of interest.
Traub-Aguirre has been told that Time Warner chairman Gerald Levin even
watches the show. The channel’s small ratings have not hindered Biz
Buzz’s ability to book top-name guests, who have included Motion Picture
Academy of America chief Jack Valenti, Inside.com CEO Deanna Brown,
musician Winton Marsalis and CEO of music site MP3.com Michael
Entertainment Weekly writer Dave Karger is dropping the number of times
he appears on the show to talk about box office figures, but Sandy
Drayton, the magazine’s director of public relations, is looking to fill
the slot with someone else. ’It is always good experience for our people
to be on TV, and I never have to worry that it isn’t an appropriate
place for them to be,’ Drayton says.
Traub-Aguirre has been trying to break news on the show. When executives
from the advertising industry and the Screen Actors Guild showed up for
a segment on the commercial-actors strike and were forced to wait in the
green room together, she quipped, ’If you want to negotiate here, we can
break some news on air.’
While Traub-Aguirre claims Biz Buzz is in a league of its own in terms
of content, many PR pros admit they find it difficult to distinguish
between Biz Buzz and other shows, such as CNBC’s Squawk Box or the
entertainment-related programs on MSNBC. And the lack of ratings
information continues to irk more measurement-focused PR pros.
Biz Buzz is six years old, and the new chief is looking to make some
changes to more than just the content. ’It has a kind of passe look and
feel,’ she says. ’It can be so much better. There is nothing to stop us
changing the look.’ But any alterations to the soundtrack and graphics
will come only after Traub-Aguirre is satisfied with the editorial
Biz Buzz currently airs after The N.E.W. Show (New Economy Watch)
weekdays at 6 pm and precedes Moneyline, which begins at 6:30. Booker
Raluca Minea schedules around three live guests per show. Taped pieces
usually run at around three minutes each, while live guests fill around
five minutes of air time.
Sharing the buzz
While there is some overlap on subject matter between the separate CNNfn
shows - Microsoft rulings and judgments against Napster being cases in
point - they don’t share guests. Biz Buzz often uses other CNNfn
correspondents and shares footage on big stories. It will also sometimes
share packages with CNN counterpart Showbiz Today, which airs at 4
CNNfn’s official news gathering alliances include Fortune, eCompany Now,
The Industry Standard and The Financial Times. But outside the CNN
empire, Traub-Aguirre has done much to build some informal alliances
with Web sites and magazines that cover the industry. The executive
producer talks frequently to media pundits at Inside.com and trade
publications The Hollywood Reporter and Variety.
Traub-Aguirre is a veritable media junkie but admits it’s hard to keep
up on so many different industries. The former Associated Press reporter
reads hard copies of around seven newspapers a day, alongside the likes
of Brill’s Content, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, New York and
Traub-Aguirre is open to taking calls from publicists and is eager to
hear about CEOs of public companies. ’We always want good stories.
Sometimes it can be really busy and other times so slow; it really is
feast or famine.
There are so many publicly held companies, so it could be helpful to us
to hear from them.’
However, if you are pitching a complicated Web site, you’re unlikely to
hold her attention for long, so she suggests e-mailing the details.
’I’ll follow up if I’m interested,’ she says, reminding pushy publicists
not to be too eager. ’You want me on your good side.’
Five Penn Plaza
New York, NY 10001
Tel: (212) 714 3341
Fax: (212) 631 7662
Executive producer: Margaret Traub-Aguirre
Producer: Jill Grobowsky Bergus
Field producer: Carolyn Purcell
Booker: Raluca Minea
Host: Beverly Schuch.