CBS bounces Jane Clayson as host of 'The Early Show'

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

— Now CBS is searching for two new co-hosts for its troubled morning program, "The Early Show."

The network confirmed Monday it had reassigned Jane Clayson, who has juggled a series of guest co-hosts at the third-rated news show ever since Bryant Gumbel departed on May 17.

Clayson will stay with CBS as a correspondent for the "CBS Evening News," a substitute anchor for that broadcast and a contributor to the newsmagazine, "48 Hours Investigates."

A CBS spokeswoman would not comment about why the network was not keeping Clayson on in the morning.

"Programmers make changes and that's their prerogative," Clayson said. "I wouldn't change a moment of the last three years, and I'm excited to move on."

It's been five months since Gumbel announced he was leaving and CBS began considering the show's future. Potential hosts reportedly being discussed include Harry Smith, who was host of a previous CBS morning news show; "Inside Edition" anchor Deborah Norville; and NBC sports reporter Hannah Storm.

Clayson started "The Early Show" with Gumbel in 1999, after CBS spent $30 million to build a new studio near New York's Central Park. It never seriously challenged NBC's "Today" show or ABC's "Good Morning America" in the ratings.

"It's a tough road," Clayson said. "For the first time in the network's history of failure in the morning for 40 years, the broadcast that Bryant and I launched ... made a lot of money for CBS."

Clayson's most memorable moment came this summer, a tense interview with contributor Martha Stewart on the domestic diva's financial scandal. Stewart hasn't appeared on "The Early Show" since.

"It has been a challenging few months, to try to juggle a lot of different people and personalities and strengths and weaknesses," she said. "But I felt like it was my broadcast after Bryant left, and I was proud of the effort and time that went into it."