Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Producer Hewitt stepping down

He'll stay at CBS after '60 Minutes'

By David Bauder
The Associated Press

Don Hewitt, who invented 60 Minutes and has been its executive producer since the stopwatch began ticking in 1968, announced Monday he is stepping down next year.

Mr. Hewitt, 80, will be succeeded by Jeff Fager, executive producer of 60 Minutes II.

Mr. Hewitt is credited with inventing the modern-day format of a television newsmagazine. 60 Minute, the most popular such show, remains a Sunday-night fixture on CBS and the longest-running prime-time show ever.

Mr. Hewitt's potential retirement had been a sticky subject at CBS, where executives wanted to set a succession plan in place. Mr. Hewitt, meanwhile, had said, "I want to die at my desk."

On stepping down from 60 Minutes, Mr. Hewitt will become executive producer at CBS News, in charge of developing projects and offering advice to his successor. Terms of CBS' new multiyear agreement with Mr. Hewitt were not revealed.

"There is no way to overstate what Don Hewitt has meant to CBS," network president Leslie Moonves said, "and there aren't too many people who have literally created standards by which an entire industry has operated. Don has done all of that and more."

Mr. Fager, 48, was widely considered Mr. Hewitt's heir apparent. He worked as a producer under Mr. Hewitt for five years, was executive producer of the CBS Evening News and helped establish 60 Minutes II as a successful franchise of its own. His replacement at that newsmagazine was not yet named.

Mr. Hewitt began working at CBS News in 1948 and produced the first televised presidential debate in 1960, between John Kennedy and Richard Nixon. He is widely credited with coining the TV term "anchor" to describe Walter Cronkite's role at the 1956 political conventions.

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