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Diane Clehane

Gracie Winner Amanpour on Hillary: I Feel Your Pain

While last night’s looong award ceremony at the Gracie’s allowed for some male perspective on stage from presenters like Brian Williams, Jeff Zucker and Jon Klein, sisterhood ruled the red carpet where honorees CNN’s Christiane Amanpour and truTV’s Ashleigh Banfield mixed and mingled with a cross section of starlets (Ali Larter) and TV vets (Jill Hennessy). TVNewser got the broadcasters’ take on Hillary’s claims of sexism at the hands of the media. Says Amanpour: “All I’ll say is that I’m really surprised that it is still okay to diss a woman and there’s no accountability. If somebody did that to me I’d be horrified. That’s what’s been so upsetting to watch.”

Banfield weighed in with this: “I’ve been remarkably offended at some of the comments by heretofore respectable broadcasters. Somebody had to bear the brunt because somebody had to be the first female candidate. I think that the fact that we’re talking about this is great because it means it won’t likely happen as much again or at all.”

But Mrs. Brady aka Florence Henderson who also took home a statuette thinks otherwise: “I think she’s been treated quite fairly in my estimation. They’ve been pretty rough on Barack Obama, too.”

Deborah Norville to Katie Naysayers: Leave Her Alone!

Norville_1112.jpg With her latest book landing on The New York Times best seller list (#10 on the Advice and How-to list), Deborah Norville was out shilling for “Thank You Power” at a breakfast for members of The Accessories Council where she weighed in on Katie Couric’s public relations and ratings woes.

The Inside Edition anchor and Today show alum places the PR fiasco that Couric now finds herself in squarely at the feet of CBS.

“Change is destabilizing to television viewers. I believe CBS oversold the change in anchor. It did Katie a disservice, it did the news division a disservice,” says Norville.

Couric_1112.jpg“With any newscast, it’s about the story. Let’s not forget it’s about what happens in Baghdad, what happens in Kabul. It ain’t about the person who says, ‘And now so-and-so is going to tell you what happened…’ Too much hype about any anchor is never healthy for the product.”

Norville’s advice to the network and the naysayers: “All they need to do is leave it alone and leave Katie there. Viewers’ habits take time to develop. Katie was not an overnight success in the morning nor will she be in the evening. No one is.”

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Jim Bell Is Staying Put

During a conference call announcing “Today Goes to the End of the Earth,” NBC News spokeswoman Allison Gollust said the New York Post is going to issue a correction about their item in today’s Starr Report. The column claimed Today EP Jim Bell was going to be stepping down to focus on the upcoming Beijing Olympics. “There is absolutely no truth” to the report said Gollust.

NBC Nightly News Goes A Courtin’

If the NBC Nightly News series “The Secret to Her Success,” produced in partnership with iVillage, seemed like a transplant from the newly installed estrogen-fueled fourth hour of Today, anchor Brian Williams says it’s simply a coincidence. “Our series idea preceded the fourth hour,” says Williams. “Someone here pitched the idea to us and it was a natural way to get more eyeballs seeing our work.”

The week-long series wrapped up last night with a report offering financial advice to women from Jane Bryant Quinn and Today’s Jean Chatzky. Throughout the week the series — which could have been ripped from the pages of Good Housekeeping or Redbook — has focused on female-centric issues including what medical tests women should have and how to ask for a family-friendly flex time schedule at work. On Wednesday, Ann Curry, the newly minted co-host of Today’s fourth hour, reported on studies that showed friendships have a direct result on women’s health. MSNBC.com ran photos sent in by viewers of themselves with their best friends.

But it wasn’t all girl talk this week. Nightly balanced their “seven sisters” sensibility with Williams’ grilling of Gen. David Petraeus about his testimony on Iraq. Of Nightly’s parroting Today’s female vibe Williams says, “Call it synergy, call it what you will, but it just made sense.”

Diane Clehane

Five Days Until the Fourth Hour

Today4_9.5.jpgGet ready for an even more caffeinated version of Today starting Monday. Amy Rosenblum who’ll be producing the show’s fourth hour tells TVNewser, “It’s going to be a more spontaneous version of Today.” Rosenblum teases that there will be “lots of surprises” including a rotating roster of guest hosts who will share the couch with Ann Curry, Natalie Morales and Hoda Kotb. “There’ll be a cross section of people who are doing interesting things in lots of different areas,” says Rosenblum. Fashionable foodie Giada De Laurentiis and Tiki Barber will be correspondents for the show.

Rosenblum says the fourth hour will also distinguish itself from the mothership by offering viewers a glimpse of “what goes on behind the scenes,” adding “We’ve never let them in like this. It’s going to be fun.”

Unlike the failed Later Today which bore absolutely no resemblance to its parent (Florence Henderson was one of the co-hosts), the newly expanded portion of Today will offer viewers what is perhaps its most stabilizing and reassuring factor: fan favorite Ann Curry. “We’re really lucky to have her,” says Rosenblum. It’s widely believed among Today show staffers that Curry has really come into her own in the last year and finally gotten her due, earning kudos for her reporting from Darfur, not to mention being Angelina Jolie‘s first choice anytime the actress/ activist decides to talk. Now if the Oscar winner shows up on Monday, we’ll really be impressed.

Diane Clehane