Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Tragedy Keeps Brian Williams Away From Mardi Gras While Last-Minute Fill-In Sees Her Star Ascend

Pinch-Hitting Campbell Brown Could Be A Starter Soon
Condolences to Brian Williams and his family over the death of his sister, who lost a long battle with breast cancer.
Which is why you saw Campbell Brown last night anchoring "NBC Nightly News" from New Orleans while still seeing his taped "exclusive" interview with Brownie further fulminating about FEMA and the Dark Lord Chertoff.
That means Williams won't be there for Mardi Gras, a coda for the last six months for Williams, who mightily burnished his credentials as he was inside the Superdome as the roof started to peel off six months ago today.
Williams has made repeated trips to the region to monitor progress and keep track of the human toll, modulating emotions while trying to provide sufficient context. His approach is a welcome antidote to an overwrought Anderson Cooper, who can stop being strident right about now.
For Brown, it's a strong vote of confidence as her star continues to burn brighter amid speculation that Katie Couric will jump ship to CBS.
Brown looked none the worse for the wear despite spending more than two weeks on the air daily in Torino, first filing Olympic wrapups during the week for "Today", while holding down her regular gig co-hosting "Weekend Today."
If Couric decamps to West 57th St., slotting Brown in next to Matt Lauer would be a no-brainer. Natalie Morales could take her spot weekends, or move to weekday newsreader, if Ann Curry goes full-time to "Dateline," which could happen.
Beyond that, the bench gets a little thinner. The suits might look over the river to MSNBC, though the pickings are a tad slim there, and given its sickly ratings, not much in the way of name recognition.
One possibility to investigate, and she's already in 30 Rock: Darlene Rodriguez, who co-anchors the morning news on WNBC-TV. She's got chops as a reporter, keeps interviews moving and her happy talk tends to be more engaging than insipid.
And if you think all this desk jockeying is a little much, consider that "Today" is purported to make a $250 million profit. Talk about much.

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