CBS News wants ABC News correspondent Jane Clayson for its new morning program, but ABC is trying to keep her from leaving.
CBS has offered to make Clayson the news reader and substitute co-anchor for "The Early Show," which Bryant Gumbel will headline when it launches in November, sources say.
Clayson's contract at ABC News is up, but her pact gives the Disney-owned network the option of meeting any outside offer, sources say. The Los Angeles-based correspondent appears mostly on ABC's evening newscast, and "The Early Show" gig would have a much higher profile.
Presumably, if it wants to keep her, ABC will have to move Clayson to New York and offer her plum assignments. It's been reported that the network may offer to make her the substitute news reader for Antonio Mora on "Good Morning America" or give her duties on prime-time newsmag "20/20."
Representatives of both news divisions declined to comment on the report.
Clayson also covered the O.J. Simpson civil trial for "Good Morning America." Previously, she reported breaking national news for NewsOne, ABC's affiliate news service. And before arriving at ABC News in 1996, Clayson spent seven years at KSL-TV in Salt Lake City as a reporter and anchor.
Meanwhile, ABC News is raiding NBC News's lineup for its morning program. ABC is said to be close to finalizing a deal with Jack Ford, co-anchor of NBC's weekend "Today," which includes co-anchoring one edition of "20/20" and becoming the main substitute for co-anchor Charles Gibson on "GMA." An ABC News rep declined to comment.
Over at NBC News, two execs from its weekend "Today" show have been recruited to work on its weekday "Later Today," which debuts Sept. 7.
Kim Gerbasi, new senior producer of "Later Today," most recently was senior producer of the weekend edition of "Today." Gerbasi spent 10 years at WNBC, the network's flagship station in New York, where she was executive producer of its morning news program and created its weekend morning news show.
Diane DeMartino has been named supervising producer of "Later Today." Since 1998, she's held the same title for the weekend edition of "Today." She joined that program in 1992 as a news producer. Before working on "Today," DeMartino was a production manager for "NBC Nightly News" and "NBC News Specials."
Paramount has reached a settlement with Fox News over a battle that erupted when Fox accused the studio's syndicated show "Entertainment Tonight" of pinching exclusive video of John F. Kennedy Jr.
At issue was footage of a 1998 Kennedy family party for which Fox News had paid a stringer $10,000 and aired following JFK Jr.'s fatal plane crash last month. The video showed Kennedy and his wife, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, playing at the Kennedy compound during a clan get-together.
"ET" and its competitors "Access Hollywood" and "Extra" all approached Fox about getting rights to air portions of that video. "Access Hollywood" and "Extra" were given permission, but "Entertainment Tonight" was not--payback for several occasions when "ET" promised to flog "Fox Files" footage but didn't.
"ET" ran about 25 seconds of it anyway, Fox charged. Late last week, the two sides settled for an undisclosed cash sum, according to a source.
A Fox News spokeswoman would only confirm that a settlement had been reached; a rep for "ET" could not be reached at press time.
The Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony is about a month away, but Fairfax-based Viewers for Quality Television has already weighed in on its picks: CBS's "Everybody Loves Raymond" really cleaned up, taking four trophies, including best comedy.
But NBC's sitcom "Will and Grace"--snubbed by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, which doles out the Emmys--snagged VQT's Founder's Award this year.
That's no coincidence. VQT founder Dorothy Swanson set up the award as a sort of anti-ATAS trophy. Each year, she waits for ATAS to announce its Emmy nominations, and invariably she's outraged by some omission, be it of an actor or a program. Voila--the Founder's Award recipient is named.
This year, she's outraged that ATAS neither nominated "Will & Grace" for best sitcom nor recognized any of its actors. "This is a show that put the traditional sitcom back on the map, and the Emmys ignore it," Swanson groused yesterday on the phone. "I said, 'I won't ignore it.' That's my treat to myself every year--no voting, just me."
The other VQT award winners were voted on by the group's 2,000 members.
"Everybody Loves Raymond" nabbed four wins, among them lead Ray Romano for best sitcom actor and Patricia Heaton, who plays his wife, for best sitcom actress. For the first time, they both are nominated for Emmys in the same categories. Ditto Doris Roberts, whom VQT named best supporting actress in a sitcom. Peter MacNicol of "Ally McBeal" was named best supporting actor.
ABC's "The Practice" was named best drama series, while Camryn Manheim won for best supporting actress and Steve Harris for best supporting actor. VQT snubbed the show's leads, instead giving the actress nod to Gillian Anderson of "The X-Files," and a best-actor win to "NYPD Blue's" much-trophied Dennis Franz.
CAPTION: CBS is wooing ABC News correspondent Jane Clayson to join Bryant Gumbel's "Early Show."