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‘Front Page’ unfolds plan to move to N.Y.

“Front Page,” Fox’s first foray into primetime news programming, will be heading to Gotham come June. Executive producer David Corvo briefed his staff late Tuesday afternoon, informing them that while the newsmagazine would maintain a skeleton crew in Los Angeles, all personnel should be getting in a New York state of mind.

In recent weeks, sources at Fox suggest, there have been serious discussions about reshaping the perennially low-rated program so it might appeal to a more mainstream, mature audience. The move to New York will coincide with any major format changes.

For the season to date, the program has averaged a 5 rating/9 share. And “Front Page” has failed to catch Nielsen fire since moving from Saturday to Tuesday night.

Fox brass were quick to position the move as a means of jumpstarting the newsmag’s fortunes. “The roots of TV are in New York,” Fox News CEO Les Hinton said late Wednesday. “And we feel that being back there where the real culture of TV news thrives is the best place to accomplish our long-range goals.”

If the program is indeed refashioned, New York provides fertile ground for recasting correspondents or wrangling an A-list newsreader to anchor the show. The lion’s share of on-air talent and producers are based in New York, and even before “Front Page” launched with its five fresh-faced correspondents, executive producer Corvo contemplated having a marquee name as the show’s anchor.

Also, “Front Page’s” eastward migration undoubtedly will bring its production staff into close proximity with the coterie of hard-charging Rupert Murdoch loyalists who staff the newsroom at New York’s WNYW. This O&O has in the past been used as a laboratory for fabricating cheeky reality-based programs like “Good Day, New York” and “A Current Affair.”

Some staff members at “Front Page” were said to be experiencing a case of bicoastal whiplash Wednesday, having just uprooted families to move west for the program’s launch last June.

For Corvo the move will mark his return to the Naked City, where he previously oversaw all of CBS News’ magazine-style programming for several years.

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