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Sam Champion 'betrayed' by ABC friends

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  • Champion, who was at GMA since 2006,  left last week for the Weather Channel
  • But weather star is upset by 'ridiculous stories' that he's power-crazed
  • He's kept in touch with a few of his GMA pals - but they are negotiating new deals and 'he wants to step away while there is this negative gossip'
  • Former Today Show rival Al Roker 'the first' to congratulate Sam on new job

PUBLISHED: 14:44 EST, 10 December 2013 | UPDATED: 14:54 EST, 10 December 2013

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He is ‘excited and charged’ by his new multi-million dollar job with the Weather Channel.

But Sam Champion feels betrayed by people inside ABC whom he considered ‘friends’ after a string of ‘mean-spirited digs’ following his exit from Good Morning America, MailOnline can reveal today.

A source close to the star said:  ‘Sam was with ABC for 25 years, when he did the goodbye show at GMA he felt good about walking out the door.

‘But then came these digs by people that throughout his career he would have called friends and he doesn’t understand why – or what’s in it for anybody.

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Josh Elliott cried as he said goodbye to his fellow presenter Sam Champion on GMA on December 4 as Robin Roberts looked on

Josh Elliott cried as he said goodbye to his fellow presenter Sam Champion on GMA on December 4 as Robin Roberts looked on

 
Champion and Elliott hugged it out at the end of the show as they said a tearful goodbye on December 4

Champion and Elliott hugged it out at the end of the show as they said a tearful goodbye on December 4

The former weatherman on the hit ABC breakfast show made his last on-air appearance just six days ago and hugged co-star Robin Roberts while Josh Elliot wept during his emotional exit.

However, since his departure, Sam, 52, has been subjected to reports he is power crazed – and that he left ABC purely as a money-making venture.

And a source close to Sam revealed the attacks are upsetting during a particularly ‘joyous’ time in his career – adding he is particularly upset that his husband Rubem Robierb has been dragged into it.

Sam’s new job makes him the on-air face of the Weather Channel, based in Atlanta, appearing as host and serving as Managing Editor.

‘He had his first day at the Weather Channel yesterday and he’s excited and charged and had the best day ever and these ridiculous stories don’t make any sense at all,' said the source.

While Robin Roberts, 53, has recently signed a massive new deal with ABC, TV chiefs are currently negotiating new contracts with GMA stars Josh Elliot, Lara Spencer and George Stephanopoulos – all of whom have deals up within the year, leaving the network in somewhat of a perilous situation at the top-rated morning show in the U.S.

Sam has kept in touch with ‘one or two’ of his GMA pals since leaving, but the friend said: ‘There’s a lot going on with them and they are in negotiations, he wants to step away while there is this negative gossip.

‘His tactic is that he needs to focus on his new job. And he wants them to make the best decisions for their lives and careers. ‘

Sam Champion has been with the ABC network since 1988 as weather host

Sam Champion has been with the ABC network since 1988 as weather host

For Sam, according to his friend, what is upsetting are reports that ABC were lining up his replacement Ginger Zee months ago as they believed he was unhappy at the network.

However, the source said: ‘Here’s the thing, Sam’s contract with ABC was up at the very end of November. He went to ABC in late summer and said ‘let’s start talking’ as he wanted to know he had a future at the network

‘They didn’t start talking until the first few weeks of November, which is when the Weather Channel deal came up.

‘It wasn’t a long-range plan, it wasn’t anything that had been going on for a year, that’s just not true.

‘He never saw the opportunity coming, but this is what he loves, he tried for years to convince the network that weather is news and it’s important.

‘The Weather Channel already knows this and they want to more. Sam thought ABC understood this.
‘He told them he would try to make everyone happy and make everyone look good.’

The source added: ‘It was joyous for Sam, he didn’t see why anyone should feel bad – he went and told everyone he loved them and walked out the door and the next morning comes this mean-spirited attack, like being punched.’

Attacking claims that he merely wanted to leave in an exercise to be able to licence his image on products like coffee mugs, the source insisted: ‘Sam’s deal with ABC wasn’t exclusive.

‘If he had wanted to licence merchandise he would have - all he needed was ABC’s approval.

‘He didn’t bolt to make all kinds of crazy money.’

SSad goodbyes: Champion (far right) bid farewell to the rest of the GMA team on December 4 (L-R) Josh Elliott, Robin Roberts, George Stephanopoulos and Lara Spencer

Sad goodbyes: Champion (far right) bid farewell to the rest of the GMA team on December 4 (L-R) Josh Elliott, Robin Roberts, George Stephanopoulos and Lara Spencer

Upset: Sam Champion is said to be most upset his husband Rubem Robierb had been used in digs against him since leaving ABC. The couple are seen on their honeymoon

Upset: Sam Champion is said to be most upset his husband Rubem Robierb had been used in digs against him since leaving ABC. The couple are seen on their honeymoon

And discussing rumours that Sam’s husband Rubem, 36, had persuaded him to leave GMA as he refused to leave his hometown of Miami – so they could start a family , the source said: ‘It’s not fair to bring Rubem into it.

‘He would never have demanded that Sam leave ABC, if they were going to have babies Sam would be on the same schedule.

‘Rubem had never even been to Atlanta before yesterday.'

Ironically, in his new role, Sam now joins forces with his former rival, Today weather co-host Al Roker, whose one-hour Wake Up With Al airs on The Weather Channel weekdays at 6am (EST), then repeats at 10am.

Champion's new morning show will be tucked in between, airing from 7 to 10am. And Sam will also be in the partial employ (in a sense) of his old network rival: The Weather Channel is owned by a consortium made up in part of NBC Universal.

But interestingly, the first person to send Sam a text of support when he announced his departure from GMA was Mr Roker.

Champion was in fits of laughter as tapes from the ABC archives were brought back to haunt him on his last day on GMA

Champion was in fits of laughter as tapes from the ABC archives were brought back to haunt him on his last day on GMA

Sam Champion and Josh Elliott became very emotional as they said goodbye on their last breakfast show together

Sam Champion and Josh Elliott became very emotional as they said goodbye on their last breakfast show together

Ginger Zee, who was on the ground in Denver, Colorado, on December 4 to cover the severe winter storm, has taken over from Champion as weather presenter at GMA

Ginger Zee, who was on the ground in Denver, Colorado, on December 4 to cover the severe winter storm, has taken over from Champion as weather presenter at GMA

Al, 59,  who hosts Wake Up With Al on the Weather Channel and sent a text saying ‘Congratulations, you’re going to love this place!’

The pair already plan lunch when Sam’s back in New York City and the source said: ‘They’ve known each other for 25 years, Sam knows Al’s wife and family and they socialise together.

‘Sam is not going to Today, he’s doing a 2/3 hour breakfast show on the Weather Channel.

‘‘Sam doesn’t understand why ABC can’t be happy for him – they have a great show, great talent and they don’t need to dig at him. He just wishes them the best.’'

GMA weather presenter Sam Champion said goodbye to viewers on December 4 on his last show before he heads to the Weather Channel

GMA weather presenter Sam Champion said goodbye to viewers on December 4 on his last show before he heads to the Weather Channel

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