This week’s podcast: Oprah, Hart & other exits

Dropped by the CHML nerve centre this week to chat in studio with Scott Thompson. We yakked about Oprah and how Lady Gaga topped her on that annual Forbes list.
Oprah’s not the only big name leaving the TV scene. Mary Hart has been flashing her million-dollar legs on Entertainment Tonight for more than a quarter century. The show has spawned countless imitators, but Hart kept things bright and cheery while stepping over the tacky sleaze often headlined on tabloid shows. Met her once or twice over the years in LA and she seemed exactly who she was on the show, just darn nice. Her voice didn`t throw me into fits as it did in one reported case (spoofed on Seinfeld) all those years ago.

Another goodbye this week was over at the CBS News desk, where Katie Couric is pulling anchor. Couric held the gig nearly five years and had no impact whatsoever, except for that time she pissed off Sarah Palin.
A more stunning departure has to be Dick Ebersol’s. News broke yesterday that the NBC executive was knocked off his lofty sport perch. Ebersol, who years ago ran Saturday Night Live while Lorne Michaels caught his breath, would work press tours via satellite and shot from the hip, lashing out at critics and even members of his own network. He sandbagged Conan O’Brien during the whole Leno thing, calling the late night talk show host “gutless” and “an utter failure.”

Ebersole was Old School, a throwback to programming execs like Don Olmeyer, someone David Letterman once dismissed as all “cuff links and cocktails.” He didn`t dress the part–Ebersol always looked like he just walked off the tennis court–but he operated like a big spender. His MO was he would overspend for big ticket sporting events like the Olympics, keeping NBC in that game as the network threw all their resources behind these blockbuster events. The Vancouver Winter Olympics, where NBC reportedly lost more than $223 million, was his undoing, just as it had repercussions in the executive suites at CTV in Canada. With Cable company bean counters in charge of both networks, the old buy high, sell low days of ratings at any cost are over. Read more about Ebersol’s departure in this succinct summary in New York magazine. Listen in on the lengthier than usual CHML podcast here and here.

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