‘GMA’ host may take leave this month

“Good Morning America” anchor Robin Roberts, who has a blood and bone marrow disease, will take a medical leave later this month. (The Associated Press)

Published: Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, July 31, 2012 at 9:57 p.m.

"Good Morning America” anchor Robin Roberts is planning to take a medical leave around the end of August for her bone marrow transplant.

But during her absence from the ABC morning show, she'll be getting a little help from her friends, she said last Thursday.

Roberts listed Barbara Walters, Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric among her “wonderful, wonderful friends at ABC News” who will be subbing for her. Others mentioned: talk-show host Kelly Ripa and panelists from the ABC talk show “The View.”

Roberts announced in June that she has MDS, a blood and bone marrow disease once known as preleukemia.

Last Thursday, she told reporters gathered for the Television Critics Association conference in Beverly Hills, Calif., that her leave would “most likely” start at the end of August or early September.

“It's fascinating-slash-scary how to prepare yourself for something like this,” she said, appearing by satellite from ABC's studios in New York. And when asked how she's feeling, she replied, “I do go through moments of fatigue.”

But citing the continuing resurgence of “Good Morning America” against its long-dominant NBC rival “Today,” she brightened.

“The run that we've had has truly energized me,” she said. “It's pretty good medicine, I gotta say, to be taking!”

In particular, ABC was crowing last Thursday that, for the first time in 17 years, “GMA” had seized first place among total viewers (almost 4.6 million vs. 4.25 million for “Today”) as well as tying “Today” for first place in the 25- to 54-year-old demographic, each with 1.74 million.

ABC News President Ben Sherwood was inspired to frame the victory in Olympic terms.

“For 852 straight (weekly) races, the ‘Today' show won the gold medal, going back to 1995,” he said. Then, several weeks ago, “GMA” snapped the “Today” winning streak, “and stood there alone for the first time in 16 years to get its own gold medal.”

“And after 879 weeks running behind in younger viewers, 25-to-54,” Sherwood went on, “GMA” is “standing there at the gold-medal podium, unbelievably in an actual statistical tie with the previous champs.”

Meanwhile, Sherwood acknowledged a mistake ABC News made recently during coverage of the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., that killed 12 people and injured dozens more. ABC News Chief Investigative Correspondent Brian Ross speculated on the air about the political ties of the alleged gunman, James Holmes, erroneously identifying him as a member of the tea party.

“It was a mistake,” Sherwood said. “We recognized it immediately. We owned it immediately. We corrected it immediately. We apologized for it.”

Motown musical

A musical based on the life of legendary Motown Records founder Berry Gordy is set to open next year on Broadway.

Producers said recently that “Motown,” with 81-year-old Gordy writing his own book, will open in the spring of 2013 at a Nederlander Theatre to be announced. It will be directed by Charles Randolph-Wright.

The songs will include those famous by Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross and The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, Michael Jackson and The Jackson Five.

Says producer Doug Morris: “This is an amazing opportunity for everyone to experience the Motown phenomenon through the eyes of the man who lived it.”

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