Familiar ‘People’ from Eye

An early blueprint of CBS’ first foray into cable television, the 24-hour news/documentary service Eye On People that’s slated to launch March 31, lays out the particulars for a channel that promises to be long on yesterday and short on today.

Like a Nick at Nite for news-hounds, the Eye On People format -as indicated in a series of program descriptions and a schedule chart obtained by Daily Variety that’s said to have been compiled in October – is expected to offer a nightly (9 p.m.) repackaging of personality profiles rerun from “60 Minutes” called “60 Minutes: The Second Time Around,” weekend broadcasts of “The Best of 48 Hours” and a weekly series of CBS News correspondents’ reminiscences called “Eye Remember.”

All of the programming in the Eye On People lineup will be reality-based and primarily CBS News-based, as shown in the rough draft of the programming lineup. Most of the shows are either straight packagings of archival material or a mixture of archive and fresh footage.

Even the schedule centerpiece, an hour called “Today’s People” (slated to air weekdays at both noon and 10 p.m. in Los Angeles, is a blend of footage from the CBS News vaults and current material from CBS affils.

A more detailed description of “Today’s People” notes that the program is “about the people you should know … from ordinary people to celebrities and headlining newsmakers. You’ll meet the rescuer who plucked the drowning child from a rain-swollen river or spend time with the worker who was downsized and is now the CEO of a multibillion-dollar company.”

Rotating segments

Much of the tentative weekday Eye On People schedule is filled with shows that rotate a different series name and theme each day under the umbrella titles “American Parade” and “America’s People.”

For instance, “American Parade” – slated to run at both 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. – includes under its banner the shows “The Public Eye” (an archival series tackling consumer issues) on Mondays, “Everyday Heroes” (old CBS News stories of courageous acts) on Tuesdays, “More of …” (news-maker updates surrounding old interviews) on Wednesdays, “Road Trip” (lots of old Charles Kuralt material) on Thursdays and on Friday, “Under Fire” (archival CBS News war coverage footage).

The other five-pronged hour, “America’s People” (airing at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. weeknights), includes “Eye Witness” (new material profiling everyday people in the workplace) on Mondays; “Profiles” (old and new interviews with celebs and newsmakers) on Tuesdays; “Fast Forward” (a “Where are they now?”) on Wednesdays; “Eye Remember” on Thursdays; and on Friday, “A Day in the Life,” up-close looks at the lives of various workers.

Weekends bring more of the same as well as an animal hour of previously-aired CBS News material entitled “Video Zoo,” a reality-based hour of law enforcement-based CBS News golden oldies titled “Crime & Punishment,” and more segments culled from the CBS News past called “CBS Classics.”

Cost the key

The reason why Eye On People promises to offer a diet of vintage material is simple: the price is right. It costs practically nothing. And without an advertising revenue base to draw from in its infancy, it will be essential for the network to do it on the cheap.

In its own description of the channel, Eye On People plans to be “about heroes, villains, innovators and discoverers, and those who inspire and move us.”

It will also, evidently, be about people we’ve already seen at least once before.

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