Charlie Rose, anchor and interviewer on the CBS News "Nightwatch" program since 1984, is leaving CBS, Rose confirmed yesterday.
Rose would not comment on his plans but sources said he is headed for the fledgling Fox TV network to host a new late-night project there. CBS News would not confirm the story, and no Fox spokesmen in Los Angeles were available for comment.
Reached at home yesterday afternoon, Rose praised CBS News as "a rare place in broadcasting" and expressed strong support for his colleagues at "Nightwatch," whom he notified of his decision earlier in the day.
For CBS, the move could compound late-night programming problems that accelerated with the failure of the network-produced "Pat Sajak Show," which died April 13 after a year of low ratings. Some CBS affiliates are now picking up rights to air the syndicated "Arsenio Hall Show" starting in the fall, thus forgoing whatever late-night programming CBS may offer them.
"Nightwatch" airs much later -- from 2 to 4 a.m. in many markets -- and although it draws a small audience, Rose has won praise for his interviews with newsmakers ranging from Jesse Jackson to Lech Walesa to Caspar Weinberger to Charles Manson to Saul Bellow.
Before joining CBS News, Rose hosted his own nationally syndicated "Charlie Rose Show," produced by Washington's WRC-TV, an NBC-owned station. Before that, in 1975, he was the executive producer of "Bill Moyers' Journal" for public television.
There was no word on when Rose would do his last "Nightwatch" or who his replacement will be.