STAY TUNED: CBS still has its eye on mornings


“The Morning Program,” “This Morning,” and “The Early Show;” Bob Schieffer, Lesley Stahl, Charles Kuralt, Mariette Hartley and Bryant Gumbel; a live studio audience, Bob Saget doing the weather and a street level studio — just a few of the names, faces and gimmicks that have graced CBS in the mornings for the past four decades.

Unfortunately for the network once coined “Tiffany,” none of these changes sparkled enough to make it competitive against the “Today” show or “Good Morning America.”

But that doesn’t keep ‘em from trying. Just this week, Harry Smith, Maggie Rodriguez and weatherman Dave Price got axed from the “Early Show.” Chris Wragge and Erica Hill will be the new anchor duo, and Marysol Castro will now do the weather. Jeff Glor, one of the show’s current reporters, will be the new news reader. The new team will debut Jan. 3.

Smith has spent 17 of the last 23 years (non-consecutively) on various CBS morning programs. It’s been a game of he’s in; he’s out; he’s back. No, he’s gone.

I got to know Maggie Rodriguez at WFOR, the CBS-owned station in Miami, where she anchored just about every newscast at one time or the other. She’s a real talent and will be sorely missed by what few viewers CBS has (or had) in the morning.

Two morning shows with celebrities hawking their most recent wares is enough; maybe it’s time for CBS to consider counter-programming the time slot.

So what other options does it have? How about a real network newscast at that time? Or it could opt to give stations back the time for local news. Many CBS affiliates, such as here in Southwest Florida, have found other outlets for their local news product during that time period. And Fox stations across the country are cashing in with local news at that time, remaining competitive with the big boys.. I remember, as a kid growing up in Tennessee, we only had three channels. From 7 to 9 a.m. it was the national morning shows. From 9 until noon it was games and talk shows, followed by news and soaps. Then reruns. Then prime-time; followed by late-night talk shows. Everybody was after that same mass audience. And they still are today.

What do you think? What would you like to see CBS do in the morning?

How many channels did you grow up with?

Readers speak

On my interview with the popular Patrick Nolan of Fox 4, B.D. Douglas of Naples points out: “If you are truly a TV news person, popular alone doesn’t cut it unless you are also perceived by the viewers as credible.”

Good point.

Recently we were discussing the demise of “Medium” and “Ghost Whisperer.” Barbara Miller writes: “I will definitely miss ‘Medium;’ didn’t know it was going to be canceled until I read your column. I think it is very well done with down-to-earth acting combined with intriguing and imaginative story lines. However, I never did watch ‘Ghost Whisperer.’ ”

Speaking of “Whisperer,” Roxy wants to know what’s next for Jennifer Love Hewitt.

Hewitt isn’t running out of work any time soon. You might recall her starring turn a prostitute in Lifetime’s “The Client List” during the summer, and now she’s busy behind the camera working on several TV projects, including a series adaptation of her Lifetime made-for-TV movie.

Hewitt is also developing an untitled romantic comedy for Fox and a half-hour comedy called “Bad Taste in Men” for ABC.

On our recent “Idol” discussion, Connie Bonifacio writes: “I have been watching ‘American Idol’ since the very first episode and looking forward to the 10th season. However, I think that Simon was the main attraction on the show and will miss his remarks even though they were not nice most of the time. Randy is always honest and nice to listen to, but Ellen DeGeneres was a great attraction and think they should have kept her on the show.

“Will see what the new season brings and not sure if I like the change from Tuesdays to Wednesday.”

“Also I am a grandmother and still love watching the show. I also love hearing the mention of contestants’ names on TV and radio and remembering that I first saw them perform on ‘American Idol.’”

D.L. Farina writes: “I will absolutely be watching next January, as will most original viewers. But I think the show will lose many viewers along the line and most likely fizzle out and die. Yes, I am predicting the demise of our beloved ‘AI’ after this season!

“I disagree with your ‘assessment’ of Ryan Seacrest ... he is one of the reasons the show has lasted this long. Do you remember the first season, when they had Ryan and (?) that other guy? Let’s say they had kept the other guy and let Ryan go ... Simon or not, a recipe for disaster!

“I also think the combo of J-Lo and S Tyler is non-charismatic, especially along with Randy Jackson. Can’t imagine the three of them together.

“This will probably be my last year watching ‘American Idol.’ Well, hey, I’m 64½ years old... it may just be my last year!”

Love your sense of humor. And yes, I remember Brian Dunkleman. I agree that Ryan was the better choice of the two.

By the way, Seacrest just signed a reported $60 million, three-year radio deal with Clear Channel.

Bill Green is a Naples Daily News/ journalist with a secret life as a couch potato. E-mail him:

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