Despite three speakers, ‘Nightline’ lacks voice

Despite three speakers, ‘Nightline’ lacks voice

*How a trio is replacing a Koppel.

By Paul Brownfield, Times Staff Writer

They say “Goodnight, America” now at the end of “Nightline.” All three of the new anchors say it — Cynthia McFadden, Terry Moran, Martin Bashir — they trade off.

They also sometimes say: “Jimmy Kimmel is next.”

It is a symbolic if small shift in the post-Ted Koppel broadcast. Koppel, a guardian of the firewall between the news and entertainment divisions at his former network ABC, wouldn’t tease to Kimmel, just as he didn’t tease to “Politically Incorrect With Bill Maher” in the years that Maher’s more compatible series followed “Nightline.”

After 25 years, Koppel signed off his last broadcast, Nov. 23, saying to viewers, “You’ve always been very nice to me, so give this new anchor team at ‘Nightline’ a fair break. If you don’t, the network will just put another comedy in this time slot. And then you’ll be sorry.”

Is two weeks a fair break? “Nightline,” a slicker-looking news package piloted from Times Square in New York, isn’t some end-of-the-world devolution from Koppel. But it’s just a respectable if slightly overheated news magazine now, well produced, with good bookings.