Giselle Fernandez is out after two years as co-anchor of KTLA’s “Morning News” breakfastcast.
Fernandez will sign off after today’s broadcast. Sharon Tay, who anchors the 5:30-7 a.m. shift, will fill Fernandez’s chair alongside co-anchor Carlos Amezcua for the foreseeable future.
Fernandez’s sudden departure caught most industry observers off-guard, but KTLA execs said it was the anchor’s decision.
“She came to me last week and said she needed a break from TV,” said Jeff Wald, news director at the Tribune-owned station. “It’s a decision she’s been toying with for a while, and she decided to wait until after the July ratings period.”
Wald said Fernandez’s departure was not related to the ratings performance of “KTLA Morning News.” Although the program was up a solid 16% among Los Angeles households for this recent May sweep, “Morning News” has fallen behind its chief rival, KTTV’s “Good Day L.A.,” in recent books.
Instead, insiders said Fernandez, who recently married, wanted to focus on starting a family in the near future.
Fernandez joined “KTLA Morning News” to much fanfare in October 2001, after the station conducted a months-long search to replace Barbara Beck, who had abruptly left the station earlier that year.
Fernandez still had several months to go on her contract, but Wald said the station agreed to let her go for personal reasons.
“It’s a very amicable parting,” Wald said. “I’ve known Giselle from almost the beginning of her career, and I wish her all the best.”
It was the second KTLA tour of duty for Fernandez, who anchored the station’s weekend newscasts in the early 1980s before moving on to stints anchoring the weekend edition of NBC’s “Today” and launching the syndie entertainment mag “Access Hollywood.”
Fernandez has landed five news Emmy Awards through the years. She co-anchors the History Channel’s “This Week in History” and runs her own company, Skinny Hippo Prods.
Wald said Tay was the leading candidate to permanently replace Fernandez, but nothing had been made official yet.
“We’ll see what happens,” he said.