Lara Spencer anchors ‘Insider’

CBS signs new contract with anchor

CBS TV Distribution has signed a new contract with Lara Spencer that validates her unofficial role as sole anchor of “The Insider” since February.

Spencer will move permanently from New York to Los Angeles for the show’s fifth-season premiere Sept. 8, having become, in effect, sole anchor of “Insider” when her co-anchor Pat O’Brien, also based in New York, went into alcohol rehab for the second time. O’Brien emerged from rehab in mid-April and returned to Los Angeles in the new job of special correspondent for the daily half-hour entertainment magazine, joining Victoria Recano and Steven Cojocaru.

On Sept. 8, both “Insider” and “ET” will become the first syndicated TV magazine series to be broadcast in high definition, operating out of soundstages now being constructed at CBS Studio Center in L.A.

Spencer and O’Brien were co-hosts of “Insider” when it premiered in September 2004 as a spinoff of “ET.”

O’Brien’s first bout with alcoholism took place in March 2005 when sexually graphic phone messages left by O’Brien in a slurred voice began circulating on the Internet. He voluntarily checked himself into a clinic and, two months later, confessed his sins in a one-on-one televised therapy session with Dr. Phil McGraw, who granted O’Brien absolution during a CBS primetime special.