NEW YORK -- CNN on Thursday named former NBC Universal chief Jeff Zucker as its new top executive, searching for a way to turn around the original cable news network as it has lagged behind rivals Fox News Channel and MSNBC.

Zucker will start in January, based in New York and reporting to Phil Kent, who runs all of the Turner networks for parent company Time Warner.

"I spent the most rewarding years of my career as a journalist, and it's where I look forward to spending many more," said Zucker, who shot to fame as the executive producer of NBC's "Today" show at the start of its morning dynasty in the 1990s.

Zucker moved on to Hollywood as NBC's entertainment president, where he was less successful. He became head of NBC Universal, and while he couldn't turn around NBC, achieved great financial success for the company by overseeing its highly profitable cable networks.

One of them was MSNBC, which has become more successful by appealing to a partisan audience, following the model of the market leader at Fox News Channel. CNN has steadfastly maintained a non-biased approach and its biggest issue has been the same as it has been for two decades: how to get an audience to stay with the network when there is not a big news story dominating the public's attention.

While a great deal of attention has been paid to CNN's problems in prime time for its domestic network, Zucker will command a much larger and more successful portfolio, including HLN, CNN International and the CNN.com website. A CNN product is in televisions on some 265 million homes across the world.

Zucker has been seen as the lead candidate for the job since his predecessor, Jim Walton, announced in the summer he was leaving. Zucker has spent the past year helping Katie Couric put her talk show on the air.

"Jeff's experience as a news executive is unmatched for its breadth and success," Kent said. "He built and sustained the number-one brand in morning news, and under his watch NBC's signature news programming set a standard for quality and professionalism."

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NEW YORK -- ABC is turning its first New Year's Eve without Dick Clark in four decades partly into a celebration of the showbiz impresario's life.

Clark, who did the first annual "New Year's Rockin' Eve" special on ABC in 1972, died at age 82 in April. Fergie and Jenny McCarthy will be hosts of a two-hour tribute to Clark that will air at 8 p.m. on New Year's Eve.

According to ABC, Ryan Seacrest will host the countdown show from Times Square, with Taylor Swift, Carly Rae Jepsen, Neon Trees, Flo Rida and Pitbull among the musical guests.

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NEWBURGH, N.Y. -- The stars of "American Chopper" are revving up their custom-made motorcycles on the long-running cable TV reality series for the last time.

The Times Herald-Record of Middletown reports that several hundred people gathered Wednesday at Orange County Choppers' headquarters in the town of Newburgh to watch the filming of a scene for the show's final season.

They watched as Choppers' founder Paul Teutul Sr. arrived on bike customized for a roofing company.

The 63-year-old steelworker started building motorcycles as a hobby. He and his son Paul Jr. spent the past 10 years on television making customized bikes in a series punctuated by family feuds and lawsuits.

The last episode in the series is scheduled to be aired on Dec. 11.