Fox bounces Bergeron

NEW YORK — “Fox After Breakfast,” prepping for an overhaul after a low-rated freshman season, has dropped host Tom Bergeron, the last of its original on-air team.

Bergeron’s last day on the show was June 19, and he didn’t return Monday after a planned vacation last week. A Fox spokesman said Bergeron left by mutual agreement as “part of a decision to reformat ‘Fox After Breakfast,’ ” a former FX cable network show that migrated to Fox Broadcasting last fall.

In its broadcast incarnation, “Fox After Breakfast” has averaged a meager 0.9 rating and 4 share since its August debut, and network execs are eager to retool and relaunch the show in an effort to hold onto the lone network-supplied time period in the daypart.

Fox is seeking additional celebrity guest hosts to fill in the gap until a permanent replacement is named. The live hour airs from a Manhattan loft set and currently adopts a loose, ad-lib style, in contrast to more traditional ayem chat formats.

Already dropped late last year were co-host Laurie Hibberd, now an entertainment correspondent on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” and an irreverent sock puppet named Bob.

Creators of the Twentieth Television-produced hour, Joachim Blunck and Peter Faiman, also left as exec producers, and the show is now being run by their former deputy Kim Swann. It airs at 9 a.m. weekday mornings on Fox affiliates and reaches 97% of U.S. TV households.

Fox officials say affils, while concerned about low ratings and the lack of any discernible momentum for the show, have not made its fate a major issue. But the stakes will go higher this fall, as Fox’s O&O station group prepares to launch Twentieth’s syndicated “Home Team With Terry Bradshaw,” scheduled to follow “FAB” at 10 a.m. in most markets.

Cancellation not an option

And Fox, which had to offer a generous ad split with stations to get the morning talker cleared, is loathe to cancel it, which would almost surely lead stations to pull back the time period for local programming.

Bergeron, who had hosted the FX show with Hibberd, has talked with “GMA” about assuming Charlie Gibson’s job as co-anchor, but ABC sources say those discussions have cooled.

Monday’s “Fox After Breakfast” was hosted by announcer Nancy Giles and Jeff McGregor, one of a handful of traveling “Road Warrior” correspondents who handle location segments for the show.

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