Catherine Crier is leaving Fox News Channel to anchor a midday Court TV show analyzing legal news issues.
Her departure is not a surprise; it had been speculated about for months, since she bowed out as co-anchor of the cable network's signature evening newscast to be replaced by Paula Zahn. Most recently, she hosted a one-hour interview show, "The Crier Report," weeknights at 10.
Shortly after leaving the evening newscast, Crier got her wrists slapped when TV Guide reported that she was on a "short list" of candidates to co-host CBS's revamped morning newsmagazine.
An unnamed Fox News Channel insider responded by telling a New York reporter that if CBS wanted her "I'm not sure we'd match" an offer. That report was picked up by other newspapers.
At the time, it was reported that Crier's FNC contract expired in September. Crier's official start date with Court TV is in October.
Roger Ailes, chairman and CEO of Fox News, nonetheless said yesterday in a news release that Crier was "instrumental" in the launch of Fox News Channel and that the network appreciated her contribution but understood "her desire to leave news and return to her legal roots."
As a Texas state judge, Crier presided over the 162nd District Court in Dallas for five years before leaving to break into TV journalism at CNN in 1990, paired with Bernard Shaw on a nightly newscast. At CNN, she also hosted a live talk show, "Crier & Company." After that, she spent a couple of years at ABC, working as a correspondent on "20/20." Crier joined Fox News Channel when it was launched in 1996.
WRC has let go meteorologist Andrew Humphrey. General Manager Linda Sullivan said it was her "policy not to comment on personnel affairs." A source says the station had opted not to renew Humphrey's contract. The Channel 4 newsroom is throwing a party for him today, sources say.
Humphrey, a Montgomery County native, has been with the NBC station for three years. He also interned there, with chief meteorologist Bob Ryan, while earning his undergraduate degree.
No replacement has been named for Humphrey, who broadcast the morning weather reports.
And the changes continue in the newsroom at WJLA. Charlie Norton is out and Michael Fountain is in as assistant news director.
Norton, who had been with Channel 7 since July 1995, was one of the candidates the station considered to become news director when Gary Wordlaw bowed out in April '98. He ran the division after Wordlaw's departure until the station hired replacement Jim LeMay. LeMay says Norton left "to pursue other things."
Fountain had joined Channel 7 in March as executive producer. Before that, he was executive producer at WUSA-Channel 9. His resume also includes stints as senior producer for both "CBS This Morning" and "CBS Evening News With Dan Rather." He won a 1996 Edward R. Murrow Award for coverage of Hurricane Opal and a national Emmy Award for coverage of the TWA Flight 800 disaster--both for "CBS Evening News."
Just when you thought there was nothing new to watch on the broadcast networks this summer, CBS announces a six-episode order for a sitcom about Pilgrims in the New World called "Thanks." It'll air in August.
Emmy Award winner Phoef Sutton, a former executive producer of "Cheers," and Mark Legan, who hails from "Grace Under Fire," are behind this high-concept comedy, which stars Tim Dutton as an affable young Pilgrim father who is, according to CBS's description, a "glass half-full" kinda guy.
Other characters include a strong-minded wife, a boy-crazy daughter, another daughter who's so smart she may be burned at the stake, and a dimwitted son. Cloris Leachman plays the grandma, who's described by CBS as "a wizened senior citizen who has quite the eye for strapping young men." There's also a best friend/village idiot--a 17th-century take on the wacky next-door neighbor who's become a staple of broadcast TV sitcoms.
"Thanks" was developed this spring as a contender for the fall schedule. Sources said at the time that CBS executives liked it but didn't know where to put it on their schedule.
A summer run allows CBS to test the concept against little or no original competition on the other networks. Original programming from the broadcast networks this summer is confined largely to updated newsmagazine stories, reality programs, game shows and new episodes of series canceled during the season, such as "The Nanny."
The eye network had success in the past airing a high-concept comedy during the summer. It became a hit, was added to the regular-season schedule and ran for five years on CBS. It was called "Northern Exposure." If "Thanks" clicks with viewers, it will undoubtedly become a midseason order for 1999-2000.
And, speaking of original episodes of series that got yanked, ABC says it will broadcast the finale of "Two of a Kind," starring those cute Olsen twins, in the show's old Friday 8 p.m. time slot, on July 9.
In the episode, Mary-Kate's friendship with an unpopular girl at school threatens Ashley's chances of making the cheerleading squad.
What a way to go.
Fox News Channel will debut a weekly investments show to be co-produced by TheStreet.com, an online provider of investment news and financial information.
The new program, also called "TheStreet.com," will debut Saturday, July 17.
Former CNBC anchor Brenda Buttner, who writes the online outfit's weekly "Under the Hood" mutual fund column, will host the half-hour program, which will feature many of TheStreet.com's editors, reporters and outside contributors. They include James Cramer, co-founder of TheStreet.com, and its marquee contributor, as well as a regular guest on CNBC's "Squawk Box." The show will be telecast at 10 a.m. Saturdays and 1 p.m. Sundays.
Fans of "Homicide: Life on the Street" take heart: NBC is trying to bring back the series at least once more, as a TV movie.
Tom Fontana, executive producer of the just-canceled cop drama, is in talks with NBC about a possible "Homicide: Life on the Street" telefilm for the coming TV season.
Meanwhile, "Law & Order" creator Dick Wolf has struck a deal to bring "Homicide" character John Munch over to his camp. Actor Richard Belzer, who played Munch, will appear on both "Law & Order" and its spinoff series "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," which debuts this fall.
NBC's "Meet the Press With Tim Russert" continues to blast past its Sunday Beltway competitors. For the week ending June 20, "Meet the Press" bagged 3.3 million viewers. Its closest competitor, ABC's "This Week With Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts" pulled in 2.9 million, followed by CBS's "Face the Nation" with 2.5 million and Fox's "News Sunday" with 1.1 million.
CAPTION: Former judge Catherine Crier is moving from Fox News Channel to Court TV.