Since the split from Viacom, Eye staff feels unwelcome
Mary Hart could be the first casualty of a war of sorts brewing between CBS and ex-sibling Paramount Pictures.After more than 25 years on Par’s Melrose Avenue lot, the Hart-hosted (and Eye-owned) “Entertainment Tonight” is said to be seriously mulling a move to Studio City. Execs from “ET” recently toured the CBS Radford lot to check out potential studio space, a person familiar with the situation said. There’s also been buzz that “Dr. Phil,” another CBS Paramount Domestic Television skein, could abandon its digs on the Par lot as well. CBS Par-produced laffer “Girlfriends” moved from the lot to Radford in September. What’s motivating the potential moves? Simply put, CBS staffers who remain on the Par lot have been feeling like second-class citizens since CBS Corp. and Viacom split into separate companies and Viacom got custody of the lot. CBS relocated some key execs, including CBS Paramount Network Television prexy David Stapf and his crew. But the Eye agreed to keep most of its shows (and some of its execs) on the lot, figuring there was no good reason to move. In the months since the divorce, however, a number of incidents have gotten under the skin of the remaining Eye staffers — and caught the attention of their bosses at Television City. The Par lot nurse refused to give flu shots to CBS staffers, for example, while CBS employees now pay higher parking fees and get no discount at the lot gym. Eye staffers can’t open credit accounts with the Par dining room, while tours of the Par lot are no longer offered for free if you work for CBS. Most recent snub: Just this week, Paramount Pictures threw a big bash on the lot but made staffers wear ID bracelets to ensure CBS Par staffers didn’t crash the party. While all of the above examples may seem to fall under the category of “petty annoyances,” the cumulative effect has been to prompt CBS Par execs to re-evaluate whether it makes sense to remain in what feels like enemy territory. “They’re not creating a compelling reason to stay,” snapped one CBS Par insider. What’s more, much of the Eye’s exec staff is scheduled to leave Television City next year for a new building on the Radford lot. Some believe it may simply make sense to move more of the CBS team to one location. A CBS spokesman declined comment, as did a rep for Par.