Saturday, April 12, 2008

A Sad Farewell to Katie

Tis a sad song today, my friends. But we must honor tradition and sing it with heart.

Na na na na,

Na na na na,

Hey hey hey,

Good bye.

Time's Up For America's Sweetheart

See you soon, Katie!

Looks like Katie's out. The Wall Street Journal says so. And that's Rupert Murdoch a/k/a God talking there, so you know it must be true. I'll have to say that my wife and her snakey sister both predicted that Katie was a bad pick before she even was picked.

But first, a confession. I actually only watched Katie on the CBS Evening News twice. So having supporters like me doesn't really help her much. Also, I'm forced to say that the nights I watched . . . it wasn't good. And, with Katie in the center chair, the ratings reached depths even lower than those that Daffy Dan Rather had managed to reach. Just fyi, Katie pull in about 5MM viewers a night, while Brian Williams at NBC is at 8.3MM and crybaby Charlie Gibson at ABC gets an impressive 8MM. Ouch.

Side Note for Math and English nerds: "M" is the Roman Numeral for one thousand. Fans of Superbowls and movie copyright dates know this. So "MM" designates a million. I mention this because I've noticed that some of our tv reporter people are only using a single M, especially on their "crawlers," to denote a million.

The good news for Katie, and those of us who like to live vicariously through celebrities, is that apparently she has a contract through 2011 for a cool $15MM a year. Yeah, baby! Unsolicited fan advice: Make them pay you the whole thing!

Well, that bit of money news certainly helped to accelerate my grieving period for Katie, which is now over. So, looking to the future:

The Search Begins:
Who Will Inherit The Mantle Of Cronkite?

I'm imagining an unusual Saturday morning meeting taking place in an ostentatiously huge, corner office at the top of the Black Rock building overlooking Central Park. Stanley Bing, Les Moonves, and several other well fed white men, dressed in expensive business casual jackets and loafers, are smoking cigars and sipping bloody marys, and occasionally picking over a table of danish and bagels. Sumner Redstone is supposed to be on the speaker phone, but he's late. On purpose. Nobody's happy. Especially Les, whose broken promises Katie's people are already blaming for the whole fiasco.

But that's just my imagination. Who is likely to replace Katie? Here are my two off-the-cuff picks.

Harry Smith - The most likely pick. A 22 year CBS veteran, Harry is a great interviewer, has a calm and pleasant,but strong, presence, and a great baritone delivery. Knows his way around Black Rock, a strength that Katie notably lacked. At age 57, still young enough for a decently long tenure. And I like watching him. I'd be surprised if he's not at least the interim anchor for a test period, perhaps sharing time with our favorite oldster Bob Scheiffer.

Harry Smith

My second bet is Elizabeth Vargas. She's already been the primetime anchor at ABC, first as co-chair with Bob Woodruff. When Bob was seriously injured while covering the Iraq War, she was the sole anchor for a while. I was very disappointed that she didn't take over permanently, saying she wanted to devote more time to her impending Mom-hood. But now the word is that she was pushed aside after Charlie Gibson threw a hissy fit and threatened to quit if he didn't get the job.

What would make sense is for CBS to try to get Elizabeth under contract and groom her under Harry, like Tom Brokaw did for Brian Williams at NBC.

Elizabeth Vargas