Kaplan will exec produce CBS' 'News'


Rick Kaplan, the legendary TV news producer and former president of CNN and MSNBC, will be named executive producer of the "CBS Evening News With Katie Couric."

Sources said late Wednesday that Rome Hartman, who had been named producer of the broadcast in late 2005, would be replaced by Kaplan as early as today. Hartman, a former "60 Minutes" producer and a favorite of CBS News president Sean McManus, will be reassigned to another high post at CBS News.

CBS News declined comment late Wednesday.

Sources said McManus made the decision and not Couric, who also is managing editor of the broadcast, though she was aware of it happening. The broadcast's third-place ranking in the ratings was a major factor in the decision, and the network wants a harder-edged, faster-paced newscast than has been seen in the six months since Couric took to the air.

The announcement marks the return to network television of one of its most accomplished producers. Kaplan most recently was president of MSNBC before leaving in June. He was president of CNN from 1997-2000 and was a senior vp at ABC News during his second stint at the network. Kaplan was executive producer of ABC's "World News Tonight With Peter Jennings" beginning in 1994 after creating and executive producing "Primetime Live" from 1989-94 and stints as executive producer of "Nightline," "World News This Morning" and "Good Morning America." At CBS he was an associate producer of the "CBS Evening News With Walter Cronkite" from 1974-79.

It's also the second personnel change in a week in the leadership of the Big Three's high-profile evening newscasts. Last week NBC reassigned John Reiss as executive producer of "NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams." On Monday, NBC named Alexandra Wallace as the new executive producer.

Neither Hartman nor Reiss was in their high-pressure jobs for long. Reiss, who had been No. 2 at "NBC Nightly News" since 2002, was named to replace Steve Capus (now NBC News president) in June 2005. Hartman replaced Dan Rather's longtime executive producer, Jim Murphy, in late November 2005, though Hartman didn't start officially until early January during the tenure of Bob Schieffer and then remained the executive producer when Katie Couric became anchor and managing editor in September.

Hartman was a longtime producer at "60 Minutes" and "60 Minutes II" before joining the "CBS Evening News." Before that, Hartman had been senior producer for the "CBS Evening News" in Washington and the network's White House producer in the Reagan administration. Even as executive producer of the "CBS Evening News" in New York, Hartman still lived with his family in the Maryland suburbs of Washington.