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NEW YORK — TV news veteran Shelley Ross is likely to take the reins of CBS’ perennially lagging “The Early Show.”
Ross, who saved “Good Morning America” and left ABC last year, has been mentioned for weeks as CBS’ pick to take over “Early.” While it has shown some improvement over the past year, the morning newscast is far behind NBC’s “Today” and “GMA.”
It wasn’t clear Thursday what would happen to Steve Friedman, vp morning broadcasts, or senior executive producer Michael Bass, both “Today” veterans who now work on “Early.”
No official announcement is likely before the Labor Day weekend.
Ross returns to morning television after helping to put “GMA” back into contention in the late 1990s. While sometimes a lightning rod for controversy, she also has a proven track record. She was replaced at “GMA” in 2004 and given responsibility for the ABC newsmagazine “Primetime” but eventually left the news division. Her last work for ABC was the entertainment special “David Blaine: Drowned Alive.”
Ross had been in talks with several companies, with CBS becoming the most serious, though sources differed on whether a deal had been completed.
Ross would take over for a network that hasn’t had a morning show seriously compete in the history of CBS. While at various times “CBS Evening News” has been in first place under Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather, CBS’ morning-show iterations have for five decades not been able to gather traction against the entrenched “Today” or “GMA.” And CBS’ morning shows have had as anchors or hosts everyone from Dick Van Dyke to Bob Schieffer to Paula Zahn and Bryant Gumbel.
There has been turmoil on the show in recent years, with Gumbel’s departure and the move by CBS in early 2006 to hire morning-show veteran Friedman, who had a lot of success with “Today.” The problem wasn’t Friedman’s or Bass but instead, in part, entrenched viewing patterns and the format that had at one point included four co-anchors. Under Friedman, “Early” jettisoned Rene Syler and brought in Russ Mitchell and made several other changes.
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