Themes from ‘Primetime’

“Primetime” 2004 – 2008 Theme


Primetime Live in its heyday during the 90’s was a successful hard-hitting and investigative live news magazine. When the program was known as Primetime Thursday its reputation wasn’t as strong according to critics, likely due to the lack of time anchors Diane Sawyer and Charles Gibson could afford to spend on the show considering their duties as anchors of Good Morning America. To fix things, in 2004 ABC appointed a prominent producer, renamed the show and added a whole bunch of anchors. Gibson was dropped as anchor (though he still contributed occasionally) while Sawyer continued to anchor on a rotating basis with Chris Cuomo, David Muir, Cynthia McFadden and John Quiñones. A new theme along with a totally new graphics package was introduced. A year later in 2005 the program dropped the “Live” off of its name, simply being called Primtime. Ultimately the changes failed to revive the news magazine. Starting with the 2006-07 season, Primetime stopped airing as a stand alone program. For a few years afterwards the name returned for special formats (such as Primetime: Crime or Primetime: What Would You Do?).

Edd Kalehoff - Primetime theme

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“Primetime Thursday” Theme


In 1998 Primetime Live disappeared in name but stayed around in spirit, only to make a full comeback as Primetime Thursday. All of ABC’s news magazines in the late 90’s were merged into editions of 20/20 so that ABC had just one news magazine brand with multiple editions a week, like Dateline NBC. So Primetime Live became 20/20 Thursday. While it worked for NBC – which at its peak aired four editions of Dateline a week – it did not work for ABC. In 2000 Primetime Live returned as Primetime Thursday. Diane Sawyer now anchored the program alongside Charles Gibson. Why did they not reinstate the name Primetime Live? Well, the program wasn’t live anymore but pretaped. Both anchors had early morning duties at Good Morning America, which was preventing them from anchoring a live weekly news magazine in primetime. During this era of the broadcast, which lasted from 2000 to 2004, they used an update of the original Primetime Live theme. The orchestration was slightly updated and it is significantly shorter.

Bill Conti - Primetime Thursday theme

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“Primetime Live” 1989 – 1998 Theme


This program was created by Roone Arledge and signed on for the first time in 1989. It was anchored by Diane Sawyer and Sam Donaldson in front of a live studio audience. Most elements of the show, such as interviews, were live with room for audience participation. The format, however, did not catch on, which is why it was revised within a year. They started focusing on hidden camera investigations, which during the 1990s became the trademark of the show. The theme is composed by Bill Conti, a composer famous for scoring the “Rocky” movies (as well as the themes to ABC’s Turning Point and Our World), and features the unmistakable ABC News signature.

Bill Conti - Primetime Live theme

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