Infobox Television
show_name = 20/20

format = Newsmagazine
runtime = 60 Minutes
creator = Roone Arledge
starring = John Stossel
Elizabeth Vargas
country = USA
network = ABC
picture_format = 480i (SDTV)
720p (HDTV) [http://www.broadcastingcable.com/index.asp?layout=talkbackCommentsFull&talk_back_header_id=6551270&articleid=CA6589802 ]
num_episodes = N/A
first_aired = June 6, 1978
last_aired = present
website = http://abcnews.go.com/2020/
imdb_id = 0124932
tv_com_id = 1752

"20/20" is an American television newsmagazine broadcast on ABC since June 6, 1978. Created by ABC News executive Roone ArledgeFact|date=July 2007, the show was designed similarly to CBS's "60 Minutes" but focuses more on human interest stories than international and political subjects. The program's name derives from the "20/20" measurement of visual acuity.


The show's anchors on the premiere telecast were Harold Hayes, the renowned editor of "Esquire" magazine who also served as senior producer, and famed "Time" art critic Robert Hughes. The debut received largely harsh reviews; "The New York Times" described it as "dizzingly absurd" and the "Washington Post" denounced it as "the trashiest stab at candycane journalism yet." In his autobiography "Roone: A Memoir", Arledge recalled that probably the most embarrassing part of that initial program was the Claymation segments featuring cariactures representing then-President Jimmy Carter (singing "Georgia on My Mind") and Walter Cronkite (closing the show intoning, "That's the way it was"). As a result of the scathing reviews, serious and drastic changes were made immediately: Hayes and Hughes were fired (as was original executive producer Bob Shanks), and a then semi-retired Hugh Downs was recruited to take on the role of sole host on the following week's program.

Also in the premiere telecast of "20/20", the opening sequence consisted of a pair of eyeglasses, whose lenses showed colored bars, which are often seen in the SMPTE test pattern (always used when TV stations were off the air). The eyeglasses were keyed over a yellow background, and rotated to its rear position to reveal the 20/20 studio. The opening sequence looked a lot like it came from the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Under Downs as host, "20/20" evolved into a more standard yet unique newsmagazine and received kinder reviews. The program originally was seen as a summer replacement series, after which during the 1978-1979 season it was presented on a once-a-month basis before acquiring a regular Thursday 10:00 p.m. slot beginning May 31, 1979. Ratings were generally very good during the summertime during its eight years on Thursday nights despite competition from "Knots Landing" on CBS and "Hill Street Blues" on NBC.

Barbara Walters joined the cast in 1979 as something less than a co-anchor and soon became a regular special contributor in the fall of 1981. In 1984 she became Hugh Downs' equal, thus reuniting a duo which had already anchored together on NBC's "Today" from 1964 to 1971. The team would remain together on-air for the next 15 years.

In the fall of 1987, "20/20" was moved to Fridays at 10:00 p.m., where by the 1990-1991 season it ranked 20th in the annual ratings as a result. While the series moved to the 8:00 p.m. timeslot briefly on October 12, 2007, it reverted to its usual time two weeks later.

For a time from 1997-2000, ABC News combined "20/20" and "Primetime Live" to compete with "Dateline NBC". The editions were called "20/20 Monday", "20/20 Wednesday", "20/20 Thursday", "20/20 Friday", "20/20 Sunday", and finally "20/20 Downtown". In 2000 ABC News returned the news magazines to the original "20/20", reinstating "Primetime Wednesday", and spinning off "20/20 Downtown" as simply "Downtown".

Downs retired in 1999 and Walters became the solo news anchor until 2002 when John Miller was hired to be a permanent co-host of the series. But he never got very comfortable in the anchor chair and a year later he jumped at the chance to rejoin law enforcement. For a few months in early 2003 Barbara Walters anchored solo again. However, in May 2003, John Stossel, the man behind the controversial, though popular, "Give Me a Break" segments, was named co-anchor of 20/20. As one of the first veteran anchors, Barbara Walters chose to go into semi-retirement as a broadcast journalist in 2004. However, she remained as a frequent contributor to the show. ABC News reporter Elizabeth Vargas was promoted to the co-anchor spot.

One Hour Specials

“20/20” has done unique hour-long reports that include “My Secret Self: A Story of Transgender Children,” “Waiting on the World to Change” – a year in the lives of children in one of the poorest cities in America -- “Scared Stiff: Worried in America,” “Caught on Tape” – on how the proliferation of cameras in our society has impacted our lives -- “Seeing and Believing: The Power of Faith,” “Privilege in America: Who’s Shutting You Out,” “Sweet Revenge,” a report on the differences between female and male brains, and "When Is Young Too Young?" which reports on teenagers and kids who do things that are mostly adult like careers like an 11 or 12 year old girl who is a race car driver and a 10 or 11 year old boy who is a matador as well as talking to the mother of pilot traniee Jessica Dubroff who at the age of seven died when the plane she was flying crashed not long after take off.

In August, 2006, a one hour special entitled "Last Days on Earth" aired. It discussed 7 ways in which life on Earth could end, and has since aired on the History Channel.

Music theme

The distinctive theme music to "20/20" was written by Robert Arnold Israel and based upon ABC's "World News Tonight" theme written by Lillian Scheinert. The original theme was revamped around 1993, and was subsequently replaced in 1999 along with 20/20 logo and the anchor's desk. Finally the orchestral 20/20 theme was updated in 2001, along with a few modifications in 2003 and 2005.

Past anchors

* Harold Hayes (1978)
* Robert Hughes (1978)
* 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)

Current and past correspondents

* Martin Bashir
* Sylvia Chase
* Catherine Crier
* Arnold Diaz
* Thomas Hoving
* Tom Jarriel
* Timothy Johnson
* Peter Lance
* Dave Marash
* Cynthia McFadden
* Lisa McRee
* Perri Peltz
* Stone Phillips
* John Quiñones
* Bill Ritter
* Geraldo Rivera
* Deborah Roberts
* Brian Ross
* Carl Sagan
* Jay Schadler
* Lynn Sherr
* Sander Vanocur
* Chris Wallace

International broadcasts

*ABC News programming is shown daily on the 24 hour news network Orbit News in Europe and the Middle East. This includes 20/20.
*Channel NewsAsia (Singapore only)
*CHCH (Hamilton, Ontario)
*In the Republic of Ireland an Irish version of 20/20 launched on TV3 in 1998.The show used a mix of reports from Ireland and reports from the American edition until it finished in 2002.
*In Australia, it airs at 2pm Sundays (Extended Edition) and Wednesdays at 1.30pm on cable news channel Sky News Australia.
*In New Zealand TVNZ's TV2 airs an hour-long local version, featuring both locally and internationally produced stories.
*In Hong Kong on TVB (Airs Monday and Saturday on TVB Pearl )
*In Indonesia on Metro TV airs at 1:05pm on Fridays.

External links

* [http://abcnews.go.com/2020 Official ABC News website]
*imdb title|id=0124932|title=20/20

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