HLN Cancels ‘Showbiz Tonight’ As Part of Transformation of Network

HLN has canceled “Showbiz Tonight,” the latest  shuffle at the Time Warner-owned cable outlet since the arrival of former Viacom entertainment programmer Albie Hecht.

“I know we are all working hard to grow the brand and take HLN to the next level.” said Hecht in a memo to staffers reviewed by Variety. “Of course, during our evolution, some changes will be difficult. This is one of the toughest.”

“Showbiz Tonight” has been a mainstay of HLN’s programming since 2005, when the show debuted with former MTV VJ Karen Bryant at the helm. After her departure in 2006, A.J. Hammer has anchored the show. Hammer is expected to stay with the network, Hecht said in the memo. Less than a dozen staffers are said to be involved, according to a person familiar with the situation.

News of the cancellation was reported previously by TVNewser.

HLN is expected to continue to rework its programming and brand. Under Hecht, who came aboard as its leader in September of last year. Best known, perhaps, for gavel-to-gavel coverage of tabloid-y court trials and as the primetime roost for hosts like Nancy Grace and Jane Velez-Mitchell, HLN’s programming stance has been in flux . Under Hecht’s supervision,   the network in November canceled three programs and laid off an unspecified number of employees. In December he brought aboard several senior programming executives with experience at places like BET, Spike and Nickelodeon.

Ironically, ‘Showbiz’ was being used to fill HLN’s schedule in the wake of other cancellations. When HLN canceled “Raising America,” “Now In America” and “Evening Express,” it used a re-airing of “Showbiz” to fill part of its morning schedule.

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