‘Early’ exit at CBS

Exec producer ankles; Pitts tapped for post

NEW YORK — Al Berman has ankled his post as exec producer of CBS News’ flagging “Early Show” and will be replaced by veteran CBS exec Lyne Pitts, the Eye network announced Thursday.

The appointment is effective immediately. Berman, who previously exec produced “CBS This Morning” and the “CBS Morning News,” will begin developing new projects for CBS News in January, the network said. “Al had to decide whether he wanted to be part of the show’s next phase. He decided it was time to move on,” said “Early Show” senior exec producer Steve Friedman, to whom Pitts will report.

Short commitment

Berman had apparently signed on only for the short haul. “I made a commitment to (CBS News president) Andrew Heyward to keep ‘CBS This Morning’ going while the preparations were being made for ‘The Early Show’ and also to work with Steve (Friedman) to launch ‘The Early Show.’ Now that Steve is in charge, I’m looking for something that I can run on my own,” Berman said.

Since launching Nov. 1, “The Early Show” has been underperforming in the ratings. In its second and third weeks on the air, “Early” slipped in the ratings, drawing fewer viewers than “This Morning,” the CBS show it replaced, had averaged this season. But Friedman insisted that Berman’s exit is unrelated to the ratings situation. “We’re about where we expected to be in terms of ratings,” he said.

No changes expected

Pitts is not expected to make any major changes to the program, according to Friedman. “(Pitts) will help the program build on the fast start and impressive progress we’ve seen in just one month,” Heyward said in a statement.

For the past two months, Pitts has been responsible for coordinating “CBS Evening News’ ” “Countdown to 2000” coverage. Previously, she was executive producer on the weekends for “CBS Evening News” weekends, since April 1997. Since joining CBS News in 1984 as a broadcast producer for the “CBS Morning News,” Pitts has served as a producer for “CBS News Sunday Morning” and as a senior producer of “48 Hours.” Before CBS, Pitts worked at KNXT Los Angeles (now KCBS-TV) and at KTLA-TV Los Angeles as a writer and producer.

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