Ross settling in on ‘Early Show’

Producer known to be highly competitive

A BELEAGURED CBS News, fending off critiques of placing Katie Couric in the evening anchor chair, may have just dealt itself a winning hand. You saw that Les Moonves has hired one Shelley Ross to be the new producer for the third place CBS “The Early Show” and she has settled into place with her usual panache and dynamism. Not that she ever “settles” actually. Ross, wed to music producer David Simone of “Who Let the Dogs Out” fame, is known as a “take no prisoners” kind of competitor. She is widely credited with having helped catapult ABC’s “Good Morning America” into the competitive ranks before the network decided she was too much trouble to keep on the ranch. Now she’ll double, triple her efforts to launch Julie Chen’s morning show into a major competition with “GMA” and the “Today” show.

THE NEW York Public Library said goodbye to Brooke Astor that drew Toni Morrison, who read from things Brooke had written; Robert Silvers, Marian Seldes, Fran Barrett and Vartan Gregorian who gave us a rousing Baptist preacher-type sermon. I loved when Charlie Rose spoke and showed a snippet of his interview with Brooke at her peak back when she was in her late 90s.

TORONTO P.S.: Early raves are in for Ang Lee’s “Lust, Caution,” about a 1949 Japanese-occupied Shanghai. … George Clooney made his usual welcome appearance for “Michael Clayton,” a Warner’s film showing a solid and intriguing directorial debut for Tony Gilroy. … The Coen brothers, Ethan and Joel, showed with Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin and Woody Harrelson for “No Country for Old Men,” and this looks like a winner for Miramax and Scott Rudin.

JONATHAN RHYS Meyers will sport longer hair and a beard, to portray the maturing Henry VIII in the second season of Showtime’s “The Tudors.” Oh, darn. Jonathan has such a pretty face, why go all historically accurate now? (The actor is slim and dark-haired, as opposed to Henry, who was redheaded and robust.) But Meyers is terrific as the much-married monarch, so we’ll simply adjust to his facial fuzz. Now filming in Ireland, “The Tudors” airs again in April. Maria Doyle Kennedy, as Queen Catherine, Jeremy Northam as Thomas More and Natalie Dormer, luscious as Anne Boleyn, all meet their respective fates. Peter O’Toole appears as Pope Paul III, the pontiff who was so opposed to Henry’s divorce of Catherine and marriage to Anne. (Henry and Anne thought the Vatican needed to butt out of their affair. Later on, the Lady Anne might have longed for papal protection.) Even though I’m a sucker for most things historical, “The Tudors” has turned out more engaging than I expected.

(Email Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com)

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