It’s good to be king. Ask Jim Bell.
The executive producer of NBC’s “Today” – No. 1 for 15 years, as of Dec. 11 – is not exactly quaking in his loafers about the all-new lineup for CBS’s third-place ‘Early Show.’
Erica Hill, Chris Wragge, Jeff Glor and Marysol Castro will replace the team of Harry Smith, Maggie Rodriguez and Dave Price beginning Jan. 3, the network announced Tuesday.
While hesitant to react to the changes himself, Big Jim confesses he was tickled by a tweet from The Daily Beast’s Kate Aurthur that read: “In theory, I like Maggie Rodriguez and am sad she’s gone from ‘CBS Early Show.’ In practice, I watch ‘Today’ like everybody else.”
The question, of course, is how CBS will pull itself out of the Nielsen basement it has occupied, seemingly, since the invention of the cathode ray tube.
“I don’t know if anything will make a difference, but they’re willing to try, and we have to take it seriously,” says Bell.
Comparing the move, as have some bloggers, to re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic is “an unfair and mean-spirited characterization that unfortunately seems to play well in places where people can post anonymous comments,” Bell says.
Steve Friedman, executive producer of MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan show, did two tours at CBS running the morning program and was e.p. of “Today.” Given the money at stake, he says CBS had no choice but to try, try, try again.
“I applaud them for saying, ‘OK, we’re going to start over.’ These are ensemble shows. There’s no such thing as ‘I do good and you don’t.’ The ensemble wasn’t working. To hold the new guy running the show [David Friedman, no relation] responsible for other anchor teams is crazy.”
Equally crazy, he says, is the notion that CBS is somehow cursed in the mornings.
“You’re cursed until you’re not. You fail until you succeed. Today’s cursed failure is