Primetime is a general-interest American news magazine show which debuted on ABC in 1989 with co-hosts Sam Donaldson and Diane Sawyer and originally had the title Primetime Live. Originally, the program was aired live on the ABC network and featured a live studio audience. The first interviews included Roseanne Barr and a piece on a Middle East hostage crisis reported by Chris Wallace. Donaldson and Sawyer would allow audience members to comment on the program and ask questions of the guests, who were usually interviewed live via satellite or in studio, a practice that resulted in many technical difficulties and easy satirization on Saturday Night Live. Internal conflicts between Sawyer and Donaldson later led them to be separated, and the audience eliminated. However, the program has always had some live elements when broadcast as Primetime Live, generally consisting of Donaldson reading the opening remarks of packaged stories and the opening title as Primetime... LIVE!. Over time, live interviews were de-emphasized and hidden camera investigations began to occupy more of the schedule. One hidden camera investigation, of Food Lion, backfired on ABC when Food Lion sued. Food Lion did not claim that the report was incorrect, but rather that the report was produced under deceptive pretenses, with ABC employees hired by Food Lion wearing hidden cameras filming other Food Lion employees without following proper notification procedures. A jury awarded Food Lion $5.5 million, but later appeals by ABC to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals resulted in the damages reduced to $2.

In 1998, ABC, in an effort to consolidate all of their newsmagazines, canceled Primetime Live and combined it with ABC's other well-known newsmagazine, 20/20. The move was made to compete more effectively with NBC's Dateline, which ran multiple nights of the week. In 2000, however, ABC relauched the program. It was renamed Primetime Thursday with Charles Gibson replacing Donaldson. Beginning in the 2004-2005 season, the show was known once again as Primetime Live, and announcements were made live in the Eastern Time Zone. Its pair of co-hosts from the previous season, Charles Gibson and Diane Sawyer, was replaced by the team of Sawyer, Chris Cuomo, Cynthia McFadden and John Quiñones. Beginning with the July 21, 2005, broadcast, the show's title has been Primetime. While Prime Time has never been a serious newsmagazine in the style of 60 Minutes, it has participated in the general trend of newsmagazines doing more tabloid programming. For example, it recently had an exclusive interview with Corey Clark, an American Idol contestant who allegedly had a sexual affair with judge Paula Abdul. ABC has reduced Primetime to sporadic news specials beginning this fall season. The show will most likely gain a regular time slot if a new drama gets cancelled and is listed on as a midseason replacement.

Episode Info

Prev: 26x12 -- What Would You Do? (44) (Aug/08/2014)

Diane SawyerDiane Sawyer
As Herself (Co-Host 1989-1998; 2000-present)
Cynthia McFaddenCynthia McFadden
As Herself (Co-Host 2004-present)
David Muir (2)David Muir (2)
As Himself (Co-Host 2004-present)
John QuiñonesJohn Quiñones
As Himself (Co-Host 2004-present)
Chris CuomoChris Cuomo
As Himself (Co-Host 2000-2009)
Charles GibsonCharles Gibson
As Himself (Co-Host 2000-2004)
Sam DonaldsonSam Donaldson
As Himself (Co-Host 1989-1998)

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17x44: Taxicab Confessions: Racism On The Road? recap: The little old ladies aren’t nice at all, but the people who refuse to agree with the racial slurs of this actor-cabbie are refreshing. Just how easy it is to join in is eye opening and how strong we need to be against this is reminded... read more.

17x39: Hollywood ‘Fixer’ Has Some Celebrities Worried recap: Anthony Pellicano hailed from Chicago with the tough guy personality that only seemed real in movies. His clients were John Travolta, Tom Cruise, Kevin Costner and many more who are household names. When they needed to fix their own press, Pellicano could invariably do it. When they needed to get the lowdown on someone else, Anthony was there. Now, at 61, he’s under the microscope himself and the names who knew him are concerned about how much will now be known about them.
Follow this ‘only in the movies’ story that seems to find Pellicano’s tactics were as far below the law as he held himself above the law.
.. read more.

17x38: Sex Slavery in the U.S.; Payola in the Music Industry; Winners of Little Ballroom Dance recap: Eliot Spitzer, NY’s Attorney General has brought to light a two year investigation that exposes illegal payments from record companies to radio stations in exchange for playing certain songs. Gifts, trips, even outright cash payments for air time are illegal, called ‘payola’. Both the record companies and the radio stations are charged with wrongdoing. Payola has been illegal since the 1950’s when manipulation by the music industry to have songs played on radio was exposed.
Also, the 4th grade ballroom dancers in Queens, NY are profiled and everyone seems to come out a winner in this competition.
.. read more.

17x36: January 26, 2006 Cruise Ship Cover Up? recap: Merrian Carver was an investment banker with a 13 year old daughter and an ex husband (who lived in England). In August 2004, she decided to travel from her Cambridge, Mass. home and embark on an adventurous 7 day Alaskan cruise. After the 2nd day, Merrian was missing.
When her family insisted on someone looking into it, officials discovered that not only did the cruise line seem to ignore her disappearance, but they even emptied out her cabin and simply ‘got rid of’ all her belongings. While some things were found in storage, when investigators asked for help from the cruise line, they got just the opposite. Efforts were blocked rather than assisted. Since these (and most other cruise ships) are not U.S. registries, different laws, if any at all, don’t always serve the passenger.
.. read more.

17x35: Confronting Her Molester recap: Celesta Davis was 5 years old when she was horribly molested by a trusted family friend. Her life, she says, was filled with reverberations, loaded with failed relationships and an inability to really bond with anyone.
Her father has since died, but her mother, upon being told, was in deep shock at never having known.
Celesta confronts old demons inside herself with the strength of her family behind her and then knocks on the door of the (now elderly) man who not only did this to her, but to other children over the years.
.. read more.
Classification: News
Genre: Drama
Status: On Hiatus
Network: ABC ( USA)
Airs: Fridays at 09:00 pm
Runtime: 60 Minutes
Premiere: August 10, 1989
• ABC Primetime (Alternative Title)
• Primetime Live (2004-2005)
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