Bryant Gumbel got a series name and a staff of correspondents Thursday for his new CBS primetime newsmagazine, which will be called “Public Eye With Bryant Gumbel” when it premieres in the 9 p.m. Wednesday time period in September.
The announcement was made at the semi-annual Television Critics Assn. press tour in Pasadena, where Gumbel introduced his reporting staff: CBS News correspondents Bernard Goldberg, Alison Stewart and Peter Van Zant, former KCOP and KABC-TV reporter Maggie Cooper and CBS News contributor Derek McGinty.
Gumbel also for the first time revealed a few details about the proposed format for “Public Eye,” describing it as a live forum that leaves open the window for spontaneity. Gumbel himself plans to conduct interviews to complement the traditional newsmag elements.
“I am not about to try and reinvent the wheel,” Gumbel said on Thursday. “We have no intention to be sleazy or cynical or manipulative. And we will not be bottom-feeders.
However, Gumbel also would not rule out an appearance by O.J. Simpson on his show, “though I’m not sure we want to hear about him anymore. We may want to hear from him.”
But in response to a question, Gumbel did rule out any interest in Dan Rather’s anchor chair on “The CBS Evening News.”
“I have never, never aspired to, never dreamed of, never tried to become an evening news anchor,” Gumbel said. “It’s just not something I think I’m cut out for. I don’t even know if I’d be decent at it.”
And while Gumbel added that he has no plans to return to his sports roots full time, he will continue to host his HBO series “Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel” for at least the next two years. He also later told a small group of reporters that he is in talks with Tracey Ullman to partner on a variety of projects, but he declined to elaborate.
Also on Thursday, CBS named Russ Mitchell as Rep. Susan Molinari’s co-anchor on the new two-hour “CBS News Saturday Morning” program that’s skedded to premiere in August.
During a morning session with Molinari, the gathered reporters and critics peppered both Molinari —appearing via satellite from Washington, D.C. — and CBS News prexy Andy Heyward with conflict-of-interest questions for Molinari’s dodging several questions and citing something akin to political privilege.
Molinari, a New York Republican, also told the TCA session that she was “out of politics for good” pending her announced stepping down from her representative seat on Aug. 1.
“I have no intention of going back to politics,” Molinari said. “I anticipate a long run at CBS. … This is my new career.”