COURIC IS TOAST, SAYS REPORT

CBS executives have concluded that the decision to install Katie Couric as the anchor of the CBS Evening News was "an expensive, unfixable mistake" and that they plan to replace her probably after the 2008 presidential elections, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported today (Monday), citing unnamed CBS sources. The newspaper quoted a veteran CBS correspondent as saying, "It's a disaster. Everybody knows it's not working. CBS may not cut her loose, but I guarantee you, somebody's thinking about it. We're all hunkered down, waiting for the other shoe to drop." In an article bylined by Gail Shister, the former Inquirer TV columnist, another CBS staffer is quoted as saying, "From the moment she walked in here, she held herself above everybody else. ... CBS has never dealt in this realm of celebrity before." Nevertheless, CBS News president Sean McManus and Evening News executive producer Rick Kaplan denied that Couric's position is imperiled. "There is no one, no one, wringing their hands around here," Kaplan said. And Couric herself once again pleaded for patience. In an interview with the Chicago Tribune's Phil Rosenthal, she said, "These things build slowly," adding that she's "Kind of circumspect and sanguine about the whole thing."

NOT QUITE THE VERY BEST, BUT IT'LL DO

The venerable Hallmark Hall of Fame produced strong ratings for CBS Sunday night with the made-for-TV movie Crossroads: A Story of Forgiveness. While it was no match for ABC's Desperate Housewives, which drew a 10.5 rating and a 15 share in the 9:00 p.m. hour, it drew a respectable 7.0/11. At 10:00 p.m., however, it surged ahead, drawing a 7.5/12 and placing first in the hour, ahead of NBC's The Apprentice, with a 5.5/9 and ABC's Brothers & Sisters with a 5.2/8.

O'REILLY DEFENDS AIRING OF KILLER'S TAPES

Bill O'Reilly has defended the decision by broadcast and cable news outlets to air the tapes sent by Cho Seung-hui to NBC on the day of his murderous rampage at Virginia Tech a week ago. Although many conservative commentators have expressed outrage at the networks for giving the killer the notoriety he apparently sought by murdering 32 fellow students and taking his own life, the Fox news commentator said in a statement posted on the cable news network's website: "Evil must be exposed, and Cho was Evil. You can see it in his face, hear it in his voice. All of us who saw the tape will never forget it. And it made me and millions of others angry. Once evil is acknowledged, steps can be taken to contain it. And once anger is in the air, policy can change." The conservative Fox commentator found himself allied with some of his usual media detractors. Commented the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz: "Had NBC suppressed the material, there would have been criticism about dereliction of duty. It was newsworthy, by any definition, and journalists sometimes must do unpopular things in the pursuit of news."

IMUS PRODUCER OUSTED, TOO

Bernard McGuirk, the longtime producer of Imus in the Morning, is the latest casualty of the controversial racial remarks that resulted in Don Imus's firing by MSNBC and CBS Radio. McGuirk, who exchanged racially tinged quips about the Rutgers women's basketball team with Imus, received his pink slip last Thursday, a spokeswoman for CBS Radio said Friday.

U.K. PRODUCERS ACCUSE BBC OF FAVORITISM TOWARD LLOYD WEBBER

A group of British producers has complained to the BBC that the publicly supported TV network is giving undue promotion to Andrew Lloyd Webber's productions in London's West End. Like the U.S. TV show, You're the One That I Want, the BBC has held a talent contest to find a star for Lloyd Webber's revival of The Sound of Music and has announced plans for a similar show, Any Dream Will Do, to find the leads for Lloyd Webber's planned production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, which is due to open in July. The London Sunday Times reported that one producer wrote to BBC Controller Peter Fincham: "I asked if the BBC had looked for or considered other musicals which were not connected with Lloyd Webber."

Brian B. at Movieweb
Brian B.