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CBS shakes up morning newscast; adds Charlie Rose, Gayle King as co-hosts

Like so many developments in the TV biz, it was news broken by rival reporters many days ago.

But CBS News confirmed on Tuesday widely circulated rumors of an overhaul of its morning show, featuring PBS anchor Charlie Rose and former Oprah Winfrey Network host Gayle King as their new top anchors.

They will join Erica Hill, co-host of their current Early Show newscast, on a yet-unnamed new program debuting Jan. 9.

Executives confirmed the show would focus more on hard news in the vein of its newly refocused CBS Evening News, eschewing cooking segments and outdoor concerts for more substantive fare. Rose is expected to helm the first hour, while King takes the more feature-oriented second half.

As example of their new direction, the show has no weather forecaster, cutting instead to local stations for reports. The change gets local stations more involved while eliminating a source of fluff on rival programs.

"I will now be able to paint on two canvases in the morning...and in the evening," said Rose who will continue to host his self-named PBS interview show each night.

King, known mostly as a close friend of media queen Oprah Winfrey, said she would end her TV show for Winfrey's OWN network and likely end her program on Sirius XM satellite to provide "150 percent focus" to CBS' effort.

Sworn to secrecy, King admitted telling Winfrey in advance, saying her superstar friend likely won't show on the program "right this second."

Translation: They'll probably bring her on for February's "sweeps" shows.

"We are not your typically stuffy program," added King, who joked about a news story that dubbed her pairing with Rose "audacious and intriguing."

"Despite everything you've heard about CBS News, you've never heard the words 'audacious and intriguing,' " she said. "At the very least, you'll check it out."

This will be the second revamp in a year for CBS' morning show, which remains in distant third place behind NBC's Today show and ABC's Good Morning America.

Since the 1980s, the show has been retitled at least five times, featuring everyone from Diane Sawyer and Meredith Vieira to Bob Saget, Mariette Hartley, Mark McEwen, Harry Smith, Paula Zahn, Julie Chen and Bryant Gumbel.

Critics now wonder if the network can succeed by hiring hosts from comparatively low-rated public broadcasting and cable TV shows; executives stressed the talent of their anchors while promising to "reshape morning television."

"(Morning TV) is very much about who you want to wake up with; it's about a habit," said Hill. "We now have this great opportunity to make connections with people who may be looking for something else."

CBS shakes up morning newscast; adds Charlie Rose, Gayle King as co-hosts 11/15/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 15, 2011 6:25pm]
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