Hewitt Sets <i>60 Minutes</i> Transition

'60 Minutes' Creator To Step Down In 2004

Don Hewitt, who created and for 35 years has guided the original news magazine show 60 Minutes, will remain at the helm of the broadcast for another year and a half.

The decision was part of an agreement between Hewitt and CBS News announced Monday by Andrew Heyward, president of CBS News. In June 2004, Hewitt will relinquish his executive producer post to Jeff Fager, currently the executive producer of 60 Minutes II.

While the two broadcasts share a format, visual look and some operational resources, they will continue to operate independently. A new executive producer of 60 Minutes II will be named at a later date.

After 36 years on the broadcast, Hewitt will step aside as executive producer of 60 Minutes and will provide advice and counsel to Fager to ensure a smooth transition of leadership. Under the terms of a new multi-year agreement, Hewitt will assume new editorial responsibilities as executive producer for CBS News, helping to develop and launch new projects, fine-tune existing ones and lend his voice and experience to new ways and means of covering news in the 21st century.

"There is no way to overstate what Don Hewitt has meant to CBS," said Leslie Moonves, CBS president and CEO. "And there aren't too many people who have literally created standards by which an entire industry has operated."

"As the talented Jeff Fager takes on this new challenge, he could not ask for a better guide than the man who created and has led it so brilliantly," said Heyward. "Don holds a unique position in the history of broadcast journalism: A founding father who continues to build on his own extraordinary legacy."

Hewitt said he was "proud that I'm handing over the reins to a protégé."

"Jeff's career has, more or less, followed the path of mine," Hewitt said. "We were both executive producer of the CBS Evening News – I during the Walter Cronkite years and Jeff during the Dan Rather years – and we both consider 60 Minutes a treasure."

Fager called Hewitt "the best there is."

Hewitt, 80, whose prolific career at CBS News began in 1948, still stands as one of the most innovative and influential individuals in the history of broadcast journalism, much as he did when he helped develop many of its methods for reporting news, beginning more than 50 years ago.

His pioneering work in producing and directing many of the broadcasts of the world's major news events during television's infancy provided a blueprint that news producers still rely on today.

But Hewitt is best known and most respected for another innovation, 60 Minutes, the news program he created in 1968, which is the most successful and most-watched news broadcast in television history. Now in its 35th season, it remains the number one news program on television.