CNN anchor Laura Coates has moved to CAA for representation, a move that could signal a new era of influence for the talent-agency giant at the Warner Bros. Discovery-backed news outlet.
In a broad overhaul of CNN’s schedule, Coates was recently named to anchor a new 11 p.m. hour at CNN, “Laura Coates Live,” where she will follow Abby Philip, who will hold forth at 10. CAA also represents Erin Burnett, who anchors CNN’s 7 p.m. hour. All told, CAA will represent two of five of the anchors who appear during CNN’s schedule between 7 p.m. to midnight., which usually represent some of the network’s most-watched hours.
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In years past, CNN’s primetime was dominated by rival agency UTA, which continues to have a strong roster at CNN. The agency represents Philip — who left CAA for UTA — as well as Anderson Cooper, Jake Tapper, Don Lemon and Alisyn Camerota. Camerota, who had been anchoring CNN’s late evenings in recent months, has been moved to work on long-form projects. Lemon, who parted ways acrimoniously with CNN earlier this year, had been moved out of primetime to a new morning concept that proved difficult to maintain.
The moves show just how quickly programming changes at a network can recalibrate behind-the-scenes relationships. CNN, which is grappling with viewership declines, is putting new — and in many cases — younger — anchors in some key positions. A good portion of them are represented by CAA. Manu Raju, the CNN congressional correspondent, is taking over the weekend broadcast of CNN’s “Inside Politics,” which had previously been led by Abby Philip. Phil Mattingly, a former CNN White House correspondent, is taking over as co-anchor of “CNN This Morning” opposite Poppy Harlow. CAA also represents others at CNN, including Wolf Blitzer and Brianna Keilar.
To be sure, UTA has one of the biggest rosters of news clients in the business, boosted in part by its 2014 acquisition of N.S. Bienstock, the legendary boutique that made a strong business in representing anchors. In an interview with Variety in 2022, Jay Sures, a UTA vice chairman, said the agency was working to bring new voices to the news business from the worlds of politics, newsletters or sports. UTA backs major anchors including CBS News’ Norah O’Donnell. ABC News’ David Muir, Fox News Channel’s Bret Baier and NBC News’ Tom Llamas. UTA played an instrumental role in bringing Jen Psaki, the former Biden White House Press Secretary, to MSNBC. where her new Sunday program is considered a major success. UTA represents Pamela Brown at CNN, who has taken on a new 3 p.m. program. And UTA recently snared Tamron Hall, the ABC daytime host, from WME.
But UTA has weathered some defections and seen some of its anchors’ presence wane in recent months. In addition to Lemon, Brian Stelter, the former CNN media correspondent, left the network under moves orchestrated by its corporate parent. CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, now the network’s 9 p.m. anchor, and MSNBC’s Symone Sanders, recently jumped to WME. And Chuck Todd, the moderator of NBC News’ “Meet the Press,” is handing the reins of that show to Kristen Welker, who is represented by independent agent Olivia Metzger.
Coates’ new job is one that has been long in the making. People familiar with CNN said she has been in line for an evening anchor job for years, a prospect that was dangled in front of her before the coronavirus pandemic, when Jeff Zucker led CNN and Don Lemon was said to want to focus on a single hour rather than multiple ones. But the global contagion put that decision on the back burner. Coates is also an author and hosts a show on Sirius XM. She is also a former adjunct professor at George Washington University School of Law, and was named CNN’s chief legal analyst in May.
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