- The Washington Times - Monday, April 23, 2007

Katie out at CBS?

CBS executives deny it, but there’s a growing feeling within the network that Katie Couric is an expensive, unfixable mistake, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Sunday.

So unfixable that Miss Couric, 50 — the first woman to anchor a network nightly newscast solo — may leave “CBS Evening News,” probably after the 2008 presidential elections, to assume another role at the network, CBS sources told the newspaper.

Despite her A-list celebrity, her $15 million salary and a promotional blitz worthy of a Super Bowl, ratings for the Arlington native and former star of NBC’s “Today” have averaged just 7.3 million total viewers. That’s down 5 percent from the same period a year ago — when avuncular “interim” anchor Bob Schieffer, 20 years her senior, anchored the broadcast — according to Nielsen Media Research.

“From the moment she walked in here, she held herself above everybody else,” says a CBS staffer, one of seven correspondents, producers and executives at CBS and other networks who spoke to the Inquirer on condition of anonymity. “We had to live up to her standards. … CBS has never dealt in this realm of celebrity before.”

In separate interviews, CBS News President Sean McManus and “Evening News” executive producer Rick Kaplan vehemently deny that Miss Couric’s future as anchor of the broadcast is in peril.

Says Mr. McManus: Miss Couric “is the current anchor and the anchor of the future. Everyone at the network, from my boss (CBS Corp. President and Chief Executive Leslie Moonves) on down, is 100 percent behind her.”

End of an era

Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom said goodbye to Broadway on Sunday as “The Prodcers,” the hit Mel Brooks musical, ended its New York run after 2,502 performances, Associated Press reports.

It was an emotional, highly charged matinee at the St. James Theatre as the show’s current Max (John Treacy Egan) and Leo (Hunter Foster) led the company to raucous cheers throughout the show.

“It has been the best experience for me since World War II. And [with] just about as much noise,” joked Mr. Brooks, who also wrote the show’s music and lyrics.

The show, which won a record-breaking 12 Tony Awards, including best musical and grossed more than $1 billion in worldwide ticket sales, was based on Mr. Brooks’ 1968 film about two charlatan producers who scam little old ladies out of their money to put on a flop Broadway show about Adolf Hitler. It originally starred Nathan Lane as Max and Matthew Broderick as Leo.

Briefly…

• Guitar World magazine, in partnership with the late rock legend Jimi Hendrix’s family, is releasing an instructional DVD and magazine tribute, “The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s Axis: Bold As Love,” due on newsstands today. The musical tour de force will provide fans with more than three hours of lessons for hits from “Little Wing” to “Bold As Love” as well as rare footage and a comprehensive biography on Mr. Hendrix’s career.

• David Letterman will be Regis Philbin’s first guest when Mr. Philbin returns Thursday to his syndicated show, “Live With Regis and Kelly,” after having triple heart bypass surgery six weeks ago, AP reports.

• Former “Saturday Night Live” standout Chevy Chase is revealing a childhood of beatings and psychological torture by his mother and stepfather in a new authorized biography, “I’m Chevy Chase and You’re Not,” by Rena Fruchter, due out next month, the New York Post reports. “I lived in fear all the time, deathly fear,” Mr. Chase, 63, said. “I’ll never forgive them. At their graves I didn’t. It was too hard for me.”

• Cellist and former National Symphony Orchestra Musical Director Mstislav Rostropovich, 80, has again been hospitalized in Moscow after becoming seriously ill, Agence Press-France reported yesterday.

• Funnyman Cheech Marin, 60, is donating copies of works from his Mexican-American art collection to some of the nation’s best-known museums and universities, AP reports. Recipients include the Smithsonian, UCLA, the San Antonio Museum of Art — where the collection debuted in 2001— and Mr. Marin’s alma mater, California State Universit at Northridge.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from staff, Web and wire reports.

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