CBS News has ordered six episodes of a new feel-good prime time newsmagazine called Coast to Coast, which will travel the back roads of the country to find stories "other news programs tend to ignore," network executives said Monday.
While CBS News president Andrew Heyward said the program would have a limited run, the door is open for additional episodes. Coast to Coast will be ready in early 1997.
"If it does well and everybody's happy with it, I suppose it will be a contender to come back," said Heyward at the Television Critics Association tour in Pasadena.
Coast to Coast will not have a New York studio or anchor. The program will take place entirely from different towns and cities across the United States and will do pieces in the story telling style of former CBS On the Road correspondent Charles Kuralt and 60 Minutes. Heyward said the stories will feature "inspiring people, hopeful endings and show that this is still a country that works."
Coast to Coast will be the first newsmagazine to be developed by CBS News since the short-lived America Tonight, which aired during the summer of 1994. A team of correspondents will be named shortly.
The news division also announced it has re-signed former CBS This Morning anchor Harry Smith.
Smith's new deal will have him serve as substitute anchor for CBS News Sunday Morning. He will also contribute a regular feature to CBS News With Dan Rather.
Smith was anchor for CBS This Morning for eight years. He was replaced this year after the network decided to revamp the program with a greater emphasis on local news inserts for affiliates.
Heyward would not tell reporters if there will be repercussions for the network's political commentator Joe Klein, who recently confessed to being the author of the best-selling novel Primary Colors after several public denials. One of the denials came during an interview on the CBS Evening News.
"I'm very troubled any time anyone is less than honest," said Heyward, who said he plans to meet with Klein this week to discuss the matter.