- - Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Pelley to replace Couric on ‘CBS Evening News’

Scott Pelley will take over as anchor of “CBS Evening News” in June, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The news comes a week after Katie Couric announced she intends to exit the anchor desk at the conclusion of her contract. The announcement completes the long-rumored succession plan at “CBS Evening News” and caps months of heated speculation about Ms. Couric’s future with the news division

In a statement announcing the move, Jeff Fager, chairman of CBS News, described Mr. Pelley as “among the very best reporters ever to work at CBS News.”

“We like to think of CBS News as the ‘reporter’s network’ and I can’t think of anybody in this business better suited for the anchor chair than Scott,” he added.

Mr. Pelley, who will turn 54 in July, comes to “CBS Evening News” from “60 Minutes,” where he has emerged as a leading correspondent and the voice of recession-battered Americans through his emotional reports from the heartland. He will continue to report for “60 Minutes.”

Mr. Pelley will be taking over a broadcast that has been mired in third place for decades. NBC’s “Nightly News” with Brian Williams remains firmly in first place in the evening news race while ABC’s “World News” with Diane Sawyer is ensconced in second.

In a statement, Mr. Pelley said: “I am delighted to join the terrific team at the ‘CBS Evening News.’ It’s a privilege to work alongside the most gifted and talented journalists in the industry.”

Clippers-wielding Ferrell shaves Conan’s beard

Will Ferrell finally triumphed over his arch enemy: Conan O’Brien’s beard.

Mr. Ferrell culminated a weeks-long lead-up to Monday’s episode of “Conan” by shaving the late-night host’s beard, the Associated Press reports. A giddy and determined Mr. Ferrell guest-starred on the program, promoted as the “Beardpocalypse.”

Mr. Ferrell trimmed Mr. O’Brien with clippers, which he named “Excalibeard.” Mr. Ferrell did a haphazard job of it, and the shave was finished off-camera. It was the first time Mr. O’Brien gave up the beard he grew after NBC jettisoned him from the “Tonight Show” in January 2010.

Seeing Mr. O’Brien’s fresh-faced mug again, Mr. Ferrell turned remorseful, saying he had made a “terrible mistake.”

Sheen promises aid for storm-torn Alabama

Actor Charlie Sheen toured an Alabama neighborhood leveled by tornadoes and said Monday he wants to organize a relief event for victims in the state.

After going through the decimated Alberta City neighborhood in Tuscaloosa, Mr. Sheen told the Associated Press he was working with local officials to organize a benefit. He said a date has not been set.

“I want to bring some money, hope, faith and healing to the area,” said Mr. Sheen, the former star of the sitcom “Two and a Half Men.”

The actor, wearing a University of Alabama baseball cap, said he decided to visit after receiving an invitation via Twitter from a University of Alabama student. David Harris of Mobile had asked in a tweet April 30 if he would be willing to perform a relief show in Alabama, Mr. Sheen said.

Mr. Sheen spent the day in Tuscaloosa meeting with storm victims and first responders. He posed for photographs with police officers and National Guard soldiers, accompanied by one of his so-called goddesses and former major league baseball player Todd Zeile.

Mr. Sheen also stopped by an area Kmart to buy flashlights for some of the thousands still without electricity. He paid the $324.07 tab with his own Visa card, and then brought them to a relief center amid loud cheers and applause.

“I’m astounded,” said one of the people at the center, Adrian Norfleet. “I just can’t believe someone would care so much.”

‘Vampire Diaries’ crew spooked during filming

Fans may get a chill watching the CW’s “Vampire Diaries,” but star Nina Dobrev says the cast and crew were the ones spooked while filming at the Gaither Plantation in Covington, Ga.

Miss Dobrev says several creepy, unexplained events took place during the 2010 shoot, including a piano seemingly playing on its own. “The [assistant directors] started screaming, ‘Stop! Whoever that is stop the music. We’re rolling. Cameras are on,’ ” Miss Dobrev says. But the actress says when they walked in the room with the piano, no one was there.

At another point, the lights began flickering while she was in the bathroom. At first she thought her co-stars were playing tricks on her but she says, again, no one was nearby and “the lights were just spontaneously coming on and off.” Miss Dobrev, who plays characters Elena and Katherine in the vampire drama filmed in the Atlanta area, says everyone had a collective “weird feeling” at the site even though “nobody could pinpoint” why.

She says she previously didn’t believe in the supernatural, “but all of a sudden it was kind of happening and it was kind of weird.”

There have been numerous reports of ghost sightings and strange events at the 159 year-old plantation - enough to lead another television show, “Ghost Hunters,” to investigate. Jason Hawes, lead investigator of the Syfy show, says that during a 2009 visit to the plantation, his team found compelling evidence of “intelligent” paranormal activity.

TV on DVD: ‘Penn & Teller’

Master illusionists and comedians Penn Gillette and the ever-so-quiet Teller return for a final season of stylish debunking and muckraking in “Penn & Teller: The Complete Eighth Season” (Paramount Home Entertainment, not rated, $31.99) with a look at topics such as cheerleading competitions, criminal justice, teen sex and vaccinations.

The two-disc DVD set offers the season’s 10 episodes, which feature Penn doing a lot of screaming and swearing - and occasionally some magic - and the self-humiliation of supposed experts.

Each nearly hour-long episode also is hilarious, whether it be watching an experiment to determine whether old people smell weird or following a group of UFO hunters on a mission in Area 51.

- Joseph Szadkowski

Compiled from web and wire reports.



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