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CBS revamps Early Show (again!): Harry Smith, Dave Price and Maggie Rodriguez out, Erica Hill and Chris Wragge in



99954_d0175b.jpgCBS is taking another stab at revamping its flagging morning program The Early Show, giving the boot to the three-fourths of its anchor team who isn't married to CBS CEO Les Moonves: Harry Smith, Maggie Rodriguez and Dave Price.

In a story first broken by the Associated Press, CBS acknowledged today that its weekend team, Erica Hill and Chris Wragge (right), will replace Smith, Rodriguez and Price on Jan. 3. Additionally,  the Saturday anchor for the CBS Evening News, Jeff Glor, takes over as newsreader and Marysol Castro, a former weather and features reporter for the weekend edition of ABC's Good Morning America, takes over as the weather forecaster.

The move unseats the low rated show's longest-serving anchor, Smith, who sat in the chair since 2002.  And it may mystify those who follow the morning news game.

Because CBS is essentially exchanging people who have some name recognition with their core audience -- Price and Smith especially -- for lesser known weekend talent now forced to compete directly with A.M. stars Matt Lauer on NBC and George Stephanopoulos on ABC.

It's the kind of wholesale change made possible by the shifting duties of an important player, former Early Show co-anchor Julie "Mrs. Moonves" Chen. Executives could hardly fire the anchor team and keep Chen, and I'm sure Moonves values his marriage enough to veto any plan which included removing his wife. So when Chen downsized her Early Show work to join the network's new daytime chat show, The Talk, the way was paved for big changes that did not involve a top executive's spouse.

The change also comes just after conclusion of November's "sweeps" period -- a monthlong period when The Nielsen Co. compiles ratings figures for many TV markets nationwide to help them sell advertising time.

Locally, the Early Show placed last among the five area news outlets among key viewers in November's sweeps -- with numbers lower than cable newschannel Bay News 9, which only reaches homes with cable service by its owner, Bright House Networks.

2010-01-13-cbs-tes-rodrigue.jpgThe network says it will find new roles for Price and Rodriguez at CBS News -- network-speak for "they still have time on their contracts" -- while Smith gets an expanded role as substitute anchor for Katie Couric's Evening News, Bob Schieffer's Face the Nation and Charles Osgood's Sunday Morning. Why does this sound like a game of musical chairs where someone got caught without a seat?

Or, perhaps, like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic?

A friend and regular reader, Jim Lamb, reminded me of columnist Sally Quinn's interesting tale about getting hired to host CBS' morning show back in the mid-'70s,  a book called We're Going to Make You a Star. Read an excerpt by clicking here, and try not to draw too many parallels.

Click below to see the release just distributed by CBS News:

amd_wragge.jpgEffective Jan. 3, Erica Hill and Chris Wragge will be the new co-anchors of CBS News' THE EARLY SHOW.  Jeff Glor will serve as the broadcast's news anchor and Marysol Castro will join CBS News as the broadcast's weather anchor.  The appointments were announced today by Sean McManus, President, CBS News and Sports, and David Friedman, executive producer of THE EARLY SHOW.

"THE EARLY SHOW is an important element of CBS News," said McManus.  "We constantly focus on how to improve the broadcast, and we think we have a terrific combination in Erica, Chris, Jeff and Marysol.  In the year since David has taken the helm, he has produced some outstanding programming and shown a deep, thoughtful understanding of morning television.  This new team brings vibrancy, intelligence and warmth that I think America will grow to love." 

"Erica, Chris, Jeff and Marysol are four accomplished broadcasters who already have proven track records and loyal followings. Together, they're going to be even stronger," said Friedman.  "This group is the perfect combination of intelligence and personality for morning television, and I'm excited to give viewers the opportunity to welcome them into their homes each morning."

Erica Hill and Chris Wragge have co-anchored the Saturday Edition of THE EARLY SHOW since 2008.  Hill also has been News Anchor for THE EARLY SHOW since January of this year.  She has served as news anchor and correspondent for CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360°" and substitute anchor for Cooper and Campbell Brown.   

While co-anchoring the Saturday edition of THE EARLY SHOW with Hill since 2008 and frequently substitute anchoring the weekday EARLY SHOW, Wragge has also been co-anchor of CBS 2 News at 5:00 PM and 11:00 PM in New York, the nation's largest market, a position he has held since 2006. 

Jeff Glor has anchored the Saturday edition of the CBS EVENING NEWS and been a National Correspondent reporting for all CBS News broadcasts since 2009.  He has also been a substitute anchor for the CBS EVENING NEWS since March 2007.

Marysol Castro served as the weather and feature correspondent of ABC News' weekend edition of "Good Morning America" from 2004 to 2010.  Before joining ABC News, Castro served as a general assignment reporter for WPIX-TV in New York.

cbs-eraly_show-team.jpegThe current cast of THE EARLY SHOW will continue at CBS News in new roles.

Harry Smith will shift his focus to hard news with an expanded role as primary substitute anchor on THE EVENING NEWS WITH KATIE COURIC, FACE THE NATION and SUNDAY MORNING, while continuing to report major stories for all CBS News broadcasts.
CBS News is discussing prominent and ongoing roles for Maggie Rodriguez and Dave Price      "We appreciate Harry, Maggie and Dave's countless contributions to THE EARLY SHOW and are looking forward to the contributions they each will continue to make at CBS News," said McManus.

[Last modified: Tuesday, November 30, 2010 3:29pm]


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