The 20/20 TV show is a 60 minute investigative series on ABC that was similar to CBS's "60 Minutes" and NBC's "Dateline NBC" except that 20/20 concentrates less on political and international subjects and more on human interest stories.
Harold Hayes (Episode 1 Only)
Robert Hughes (Episode 1 Only)
Hugh Downs (1978-1999)
Barbara Walters (1979-2004)
Diane Sawyer (1998-2000)
Charles Gibson (1998-2000)
Sam Donaldson (1998-2000)
Connie Chung (1998-2002)
Jack Ford (2000-2001)
John Miller (2002-2003)
John Stossel (2003-)
Elizabeth Vargas (2004-)
The title of the series, "20/20" is a reference to vision and the idea that viewers will see each episode's subject matter more clearly after watching.
20/20 got off to perhaps the worst start of any program in television history! The first episode featured clay figures that spoofed President Jimmy Carter and honored newscaster Walter Cronkite. Carter's figure sang, "Georgia on My Mind" and Cronkite's was ridiculed in a similar manner. Critics referred to the premiere episode as trash and ABC definitely got the message! Much of the crew and the two anchors were fired and the show was revamped into a more traditional news magazine type show for its second episode.
The series got better reviews after the changes and the public loved the kinder, gentler Hugh Downs as the new host of the show. 20/20 also did very well in the ratings considering that it was up against the blockbuster series, "Knots Landing" on CBS and "Hill Street Blues" on NBC.
Barbara Walters did not join the series as a co-anchor in 1979. For the first few years she was a contributor before being moved up to "Special" contributor. By 1984 she had proven her value and became co-anchor with status equal to that of Hugh Downs. By the way, Downs and Walters had previously worked as co-anchors on the Today Show from 1964 to 1971. They remained together on 20/20 for another 15 years!
During 1997-2000, 20/20 was combined with Primetime Live in an attempt to better compete with Dateline NBC. This combination of the two shows was titled 20/20 Sunday, 20/20 Monday, 20/20 Wednesday, 20/20 Thursday, 20/20 Friday, and lastly 20/20 Downtown. In 2000 ABC split the two shows back to their original formats but kept 20/20 Downtown (retitled to simply "Downtown") as a third news program.
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