ABC is hoping that the teaming of "World News Tonight" anchor Peter Jennings and "Nightline" anchor Ted Koppel for a series of prime-time specials will produce "a new form of programming," a network executive says.
"The Jennings-Koppel Report" will be "a hybrid form combining the documentary with the instant special," said Jeff Gralnick, who will be its executive producer.
"Out of that hybrid, we hope to come up with a new form of programming and a new form of reporting," Gralnick said. "There is an appetite for more informational programming that is clear and has been demonstrated."
The first of three such specials in 1987, examining the life of Ronald Reagan, will air Thursday at 10 p.m. in the "20/20" time slot. Other installments on as-yet-undecided topics are planned for July and December; four are planned for 1988.
Gralnick, vice president and executive producer for ABC special broadcasts, said this teaming of the two anchors was a result of their work together on the prize-winning three-hour retrospective "45-85" two years ago.
"They are two very strong writers, two very strong reporters, two distinctly different personalities," he said. "It really is a case of two plus two equals six."
The first program, entitled "The Jennings-Koppel Report: Ronald Reagan," will examine those events during Reagan's political career that shaped his political outlook and foreshadowed his performance as President.
"The subtitle to the program is 'Memo to the Future,' " Gralnick said. "If you look at Ronald Reagan's life in its entirety, you can see his presidency coming. . . . You can hear Reagan in the 1930s and '40s, foreshadowing things that will come as an interesting comparison when you look at the Ronald Reagan of the '80s."
FOR THE RECORD: The total number of Los Angeles Area Emmy nominations for KNBC-TV and KABC-TV listed in Friday's Calendar were inadvertently reversed. KNBC-TV received 39 nominations and KABC-TV had 23.