Mary Hart is exiting “Entertainment Tonight” after her upcoming 30th season on the landmark syndicated entertainment newsmag.
Hart has been with “ET” since 1982. Rumors of her exit had swirled in the past few days, with talk that “The Insider” anchor Lara Spencer might be in line to replace her.
“I’ve had the privilege of spending 29 years doing something I love — how often does that happen?” Hart said. “I’ve had the support of a stupendous group of people starting with (longtime ‘ET’ exec producer) Linda Bell Blue, (CBS TV Distribution prexy) John Nogawski and many others who are so talentd on our staff at ‘ET.’ I only meant to be at ‘ET’ for three years, suddenly it’s almost 30. I’ve reached a point when I clearly realize it’s time for a change.
“There are many things I want to do in my life and I’d better get on with them. It will certainly be with mixed sentiments that I say ‘goodbye’ at the end of the season, but it will definitely be with a sense of celebration,” she said.
CBS TV Distribution said there’s no official replacement set yet for Hart.
Hart’s exit now means two major syndication stalwarts will be exiting the business after 2011: Hart joins Oprah Winfrey, who is ending her syndie strip — also distributed by CBS — at the end of this upcoming season as well.
That’s a tough turn of events for CBS TV Distribution, which will now be saying farewell to arguably its two top stars at once.
“’ET’ and Mary Hart have created the genre of entertainment news,” said Nogawski. “Not only has she defined ‘ET’ for almost three decades but she’s defined entertainment journalism. Revered by both the entertainment community and viewers, Mary has been a fixture in our lives and we’ll miss her dearly. We look forward to celebrating Mary’s career in this exciting season to come.”
Bell Blue said she will miss Hart “tremendously.”
“Right now we are focused on making this next season the very best in her long history with ‘ET,'” Bell Blue said. “She will remain first on the red carpet for the biggest award shows and will continue to interview Hollywood’s top stars.”