Thursday, May 19, 2005

CBS Testing Post-Rather 'News' Plan

Source: Hollywood Reporter CBS said Wednesday it will experiment with its evening newscast in the coming months as the network decides what direction to go in the post-Dan Rather era.

CBS News president Andrew Heyward said the moves would be built around what already has been done with temporary anchor Bob Schieffer, who took over at "CBS Evening News" on March 10. Schieffer has brought new life to the single-anchor format, spending time talking to the correspondents on-air and asking them questions instead of the standard stand-up reports common to the format.

Heyward offered few details about the reworking of "Evening News," though he said it probably would be built around several correspondents that could include Schieffer, who also is host of "Face the Nation" and is the network's chief Washington correspondent.
"We haven't worked that out yet," Heyward said.

Heyward said CBS News was looking beyond the anchor as the "voice of God." But don't count on "Evening News" to follow the lead of "The Early Show," which has four anchors, or the multiple anchors/multiple cities model that was the trademark of ABC's "World News Tonight" in the late 1970s and early '80s.

That was an innovation in Roone Arledge's time, but it wouldn't work today, Heyward said. He feels Schieffer's manner and style are a good fit.

"We like what we've seen so far," Heyward said. He said the spring and summer were a good time to make tweaks because of the higher amounts of sampling seen during those times.

But whatever the future holds for "Evening News," it isn't likely to include "Today" show host Katie Couric. Moonves confirmed that CBS "had a discussion with Katie Couric" but that the NBC News star was locked up in a contract and wasn't likely to jump to anchor "Evening News." He added, "I think she'll be at the 'Today' show for a very, very long time."


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