The Early Show: Wikis


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The Early Show
The Early Show title card used since June 9, 2008
Format News program, Live action, Talk show
Presented by Harry Smith (2002–present)
Maggie Rodriguez (2008-present)
Erica Hill (2010-present)
Dave Price (2003–present)
The Saturday Early Show
Chris Wragge (2007–present)
Erica Hill (2008–present)
Lonnie Quinn (2006–present)
Elaine Quijano (2010–present)
Country of origin United States
No. of episodes 2,942 (as of August 7, 2009)
Executive producer(s) Zev Shalev
Running time 120 minutes (two hours)
Production company(s) CBS News Productions
Original channel CBS
Original run November 1, 1999 – present

The Early Show (or The CBS Early Show) is an American television morning news talk show broadcast by CBS from New York City. The program airs from 7 to 9 a.m. Monday through Saturday in all time zones. It airs live on most affiliates in the Eastern Time Zone, but is tape delayed in the remaining time zones. The Early Show features celebrity interviews and light entertainment and news pieces.

In some markets, the Saturday version may not air. Having premiered on November 1, 1999, it is the youngest of the major networks' morning shows, although CBS has programmed in that timeslot continuously since 1965.

The Early Show, like many of its predecessors, has traditionally run third in the ratings to its rivals, NBC's Today and ABC's Good Morning America.

Much like NBC's The Today Show and The Tonight Show, the title The Early Show is analogous to that of CBS' late-night talk show, Late Show.

Both The Early Show and the CBS Morning News are the last of the network morning programs not currently broadcasting in High Definition.


Before The Early Show

The 1950s

CBS has made several attempts at morning shows since 1954. First came The Morning Show (1954–1956), originally hosted by Walter Cronkite and very similar to The Today Show in fashion (it too, ran for two hours from 7-9 a.m. until being reduced to one hour to accommodate the premiere of Captain Kangaroo in 1955). Additional hosts over the years included Jack Paar, John Henry Faulk, and Dick Van Dyke. Next came Good Morning! with Will Rogers, Jr., which lasted only fourteen months on the air before being replaced briefly by a morning variety hour headlined by Jimmy Dean. After the demise of The Morning Show, CBS aired a 15 minute news broadcast at 7:45 a.m. with Stuart Novins, preceding Captain Kangaroo under the CBS Morning News title.

The 1960s and 1970s


CBS would not make any serious attempt to program against Today for eight years. On September 2, 1963, The CBS Morning News debuted, similar to its evening counterpart in the way that it was also a hard newscast featuring various hosts and correspondents from CBS News over the years. It started out as a half-hour broadcast anchored by Mike Wallace and airing Monday through Friday at 10:00 a.m. ET. Coincidentally, it replaced a CBS daytime magazine program called Calendar, which was hosted by Wallace's future 60 Minutes colleague Harry Reasoner. In August 1965, upon discovering that they could make more money airing reruns of I Love Lucy in the 10:00 a.m. slot, CBS moved the broadcast start time to 7:05 a.m. (although most affiliates carried it via tape delay at 7:30 a.m.). Wallace only lasted a year with the change in hours and eventually tired of the grind, leaving to cover Richard Nixon's comeback for CBS News. Wallace suggested Los Angeles newsman Joseph Benti as his replacement.


It was during Joseph Benti's run (through August 28, 1970) that the program became the first regularly-scheduled one-hour newscast ever on network television on March 31, 1969. Until 1981, it would precede Captain Kangaroo on the CBS morning schedule from 7:00-8:00 a.m. ET. The new hour format now featured John Hart reading the news from Washington and CBS News Moscow correspondent Hughes Rudd as an occasional contributor. After Hart replaced Benti as the main anchor in New York, the Washington anchor desk was assumed by Bernard Kalb until 1972 and Nelson Benton for a year after that.

On August 6, 1973, after Hart left for NBC, in an effort to emulate The Today Show, Rudd was teamed up with former Washington Post reporter Sally Quinn. Unfortunately for CBS, within days the hugely-publicized pairing of what was dubbed by the press "the beauty and the grouch" (referring to Quinn and Rudd respectively) turned out to be a disaster, mainly due to Quinn's lack of television experience and obvious sloppiness. Quinn was gone after six months, leaving after the February 1, 1974 telecast. A much more experienced correspondent, Bruce Morton, later took over the Washington desk, remaining there until 1977. During that period, the newscast had evolved into a well-crafted package delivered in a straightforward manner, much like Cronkite's evening newscast. Despite the anchor turnover through the years, the broadcast had set a consistent tone which emphasized news and ideas over celebrity gossip or self-help tips. The anchor desk was subsequently shared by the team of Lesley Stahl and Richard Threlkeld, while Morton and Rudd returned to both feature reporting and commentary respectively.

The Morning era

On January 29, 1979, CBS revamped the program premiering Morning, which was a daily version of Sunday Morning, and titled in accordance to the day of the week (Monday Morning, Tuesday Morning, etc.). The weekday Morning series competed with Good Morning America and The Today Show. Originally it was anchored by Bob Schieffer, but Sunday Morning host Charles Kuralt took over the daily show as well in the fall of 1980. The program featured long pieces from CBS News bureaus, and many viewed it as a highbrow, classy newscast in the best CBS tradition. Still, despite critical acclaim, the show remained dead last in the ratings, and CBS was under more pressure from affiliates to present a more viable morning competitor. So on September 28, 1981, Morning dropped the days of the week from its title (except for Sunday Morning), and was extended to 90 minutes and added Diane Sawyer as co-host; in the process, Captain Kangaroo was reduced to a half-hour daily and pushed to an earlier time period (7:00 a.m.). On January 18, 1982, again at the expense of Captain Kangaroo, Morning was lengthened to the same two-hour format that Today and GMA were utilizing. Along the way it reassumed the CBS Morning News title. An understandably exhausted Kuralt was relieved of his duties on the weekday broadcasts in March 1982, at a time when a restructuring on the Evening News (no doubt owing to new anchor Dan Rather's ratings problems) forced his popular On the Road segments to be gradually phased out. By this time management decided that morning news programming should be more competitive and hired Bill Kurtis, who was then anchoring WBBM-TV's highly-rated evening newscasts in Chicago, as Sawyer's co-host.

The 1980s

By the fall of 1982, Captain Kangaroo had disappeared from the daily schedule and the new team of Kurtis and Sawyer were anchoring three hours of news in the morning, as they were also seen on the CBS Early Morning News an hour earlier. Their teamwork helped boost the show's ratings, albeit briefly; George Merlis, a former GMA producer hired to revamp the broadcast, is also credited by most network insiders with nearly doubling viewership numbers by March 1983. The numbers continued to climb during the summer; during one week in August 1983 it passed The Today Show for the second place spot behind GMA, and was in closing distance behind the latter program for the #1 spot before it dropped back to third place again. After Merlis was relieved from his duties for his trouble, Sawyer, tired of the morning grind, left in the fall of 1984 to become the first female correspondent on 60 Minutes.

CBS News correspondents Jane Wallace and Meredith Vieira briefly alternated as interim co-host in an on-air try-out that lasted several months, but both were passed over for the permanent spot. Instead, CBS settled for former Miss America and NFL Today co-host Phyllis George, who was given a three-year contract following a two-week trial run. Unfortunately, like Sally Quinn before her, George turned out to be a disastrous choice. There was no chemistry between her and Kurtis onscreen (in fact, they reportedly never got along off-camera either), and it was obvious (or due, to depending on one's point-of-view at the time) that despite her career as a sportscaster, and host of Candid Camera she had no news experience at all. As a result, the CBS Morning News under Kurtis and George became a case study in how not to manage a news organization.

The low point of her very brief tenure came on May 14, 1985 during George's interview with false rape accuser Cathleen Crowell Webb and the man whom she had falsely accused, Gary Dotson. In an effort to get the two to make amends to each other, George made a simple suggestion: "How about a hug?" Both Webb and Dotson graciously refused. That infamous interview alienated audiences and was blasted by critics, helping to put an unpleasant close to George's television career at that point. A very unhappy Bill Kurtis subsequently departed from the show and resigned from CBS News in July, returning to Chicago and his old anchor spot at WBBM-TV. Once again Bob Schieffer served as a brief replacement. Phyllis George eventually left CBS for good that fall.

After some convulsions on the part of both CBS management (who blanched at paying three million dollars for someone to do nothing) and George, Forrest Sawyer and Maria Shriver made a grim effort to broadcast a respectable show for a year after that. However, CBS News management had other ideas in September 1986; they announced that the still-unsuccessful show would be put under the entertainment division as part of another drastic format change. Many employees were appalled; as medical correspondent Dr. Bob Arnot put it, "They shot it in the head." In the interim, Bruce Morton returned briefly to share the duties with Early Morning News anchor Faith Daniels until the new format was ready.

The Morning Program

On January 12, 1987, The Morning Program made its debut[1] hosted by actress Mariette Hartley and Rolland Smith, former longtime anchor at WCBS-TV in New York. Mark McEwen handled the weather, while Bob Saget did comedy bits; The show ran for 90 minutes behind a briefly-expanded 90-minute CBS Early Morning News, which had dropped "Early" from its title. However, The Morning Program, with its awkward mix of news, entertainment, and comedy, became the joke of the industry, receiving its worst reviews[2][3] and at one point plummeting to its lowest ratings in five years. The format was aborted and the time slot returned to the news division after a ten-and-a-half-month run. Hartley and Smith were dumped, while Saget left to star on the ABC sitcom, Full House. A longtime producer summed up this version of the program upon its demise by saying, "...everyone thought we had the lowest ratings you could have in the morning. The Morning Program proved us wrong".[3]

CBS This Morning

CBS This Morning made its debut in November 30, 1987, with hosts Harry Smith, former GMA news anchor Kathleen Sullivan, and Morning Program holdover Mark McEwen. Sullivan would be replaced by Paula Zahn on February 26, 1990. Beginning October 26, 1992, in an effort to stop affiliates from dropping the program, CBS allowed more participation from local stations (Most affiliates have their own early morning newscast, which precedes the national news). Despite a far more successful pairing in Smith, Paula Zahn, and weather anchor Mark McEwen, CBS This Morning remained stubbornly in third place. It was, however, far more competitive than any of its predecessors. A brand new set and live format introduced in October 1995 had little effect on the ratings.

This Morning

From June 17, 1996-August 1996 Harold Dow and Erin Moriarty anchored the show for seven weeks after Smith and Zahn left until the new format was in place.

In August 1996, the show was revamped again, as simply This Morning. With Mark McEwen replacing Harry Smith as co-anchor and Jane Robelot who replaced Zahn, and news anchor Jose Diaz-Balart (succeeded by Cynthia Bowers and later Thalia Assuras, and finally Julie Chen both anchors of the Morning News) and Craig Allen weather premiered. Also, a new system was created where many of the local stations aired their own newscast from 7 to 8 a.m., with inserts from the national broadcast. Then from 8 to 9 a.m., affiliates air the second-half of the national broadcast uninterrupted. Ratings went up slightly, and at one point the show even moved ahead of Good Morning America in 1998. But it was also a brief ratings success, and This Morning became the immediate predecessor to The Early Show.

In June 1999, Jane Robelot left the show after the show was being replaced by the "Early Show". She held the job as anchor at CBS affiliate WGCL (channel 46) in Atlanta for three years after leaving the show. Thalia Assuras would be co-anchor for the following five months that remained for "This Morning". Julie Chen would become the newsreader for the remaining five months. Mark McEwen left the show at the end of September 1999 to prepare for the launch of The Early Show and was replaced by Russ Mitchell for the remaining month of "This Morning". October 29, 1999 was the final show for "This Morning" bringing to the end twelve years of "CBS This Morning".

The Early Show begins

Bryant Gumbel, Jane Clayson, Mark McEwen and Julie Chen (1999-2002)

The Early Show began on November 1, 1999 (around the time Viacom purchased CBS) when CBS executives successfully lured former Today Show host Bryant Gumbel to head up the broadcast, teamed with newcomer Jane Clayson. The show was completely revamped, and affiliates were asked to carry the two-hour broadcast in its entirety as the original This Morning format was abandoned. Mark McEwen once again did the weather, and Julie Chen read the news. Ratings were not encouraging, and were actually lower than the show it had replaced, CBS This Morning.[4] Gumbel left in 2002,[5] and shortly thereafter Clayson and McEwen were replaced. Clayson may be best known for her awkward confrontation with Early Show food and style contributor Martha Stewart during this period, described below.

Julie Chen, Harry Smith, Hannah Storm, Rene Syler and Dave Price (October 2002-December 2006)

The new team consisted of Chen, former Biography and CBS This Morning host Harry Smith, former NBC Sports commentator Hannah Storm, Rene Syler (a news anchor from KTVT, the CBS station in Dallas), and weatherman Dave Price. To keep affiliates happy, CBS went back to the local/national hybrid format.[6] The show also had a number of "correspondents" who do short segments on specific issues; Martha Stewart, Martha Quinn, Bobby Flay, and Bob Vila, among others, have been featured in this role. Susan Koeppen (2004-–) is the consumer correspondent.

Stewart's participation garnered headlines on June 25, 2002, due to her obsessively chopping vegetables for a salad while refusing to answer Clayson's questions regarding her stock fraud scandal – Stewart stopped contributing to the program after the appearance, which was immortalized in an NBC TV-movie of Stewart's life a few months later.

On October 30, 2006, The Early Show received a revamp, featuring new graphics (with a new blue and orange color scheme instead of blue and yellow) and music similar to those used on the CBS Evening News (which were also used starting in early October on Up to the Minute and the CBS Morning News).

On December 4, 2006, it was announced that Rene Syler would leave the show by the end of the month (her last show was December 22).

Harry Smith, Hannah Storm, Russ Mitchell and Dave Price (December 2006-December 2007)

On December 7, 2006, CBS News named Russ Mitchell the news anchor. On November 28, 2007, it was announced that Hannah Storm was leaving her co-anchor chair; her last day was December 7, 2007.

Julie Chen, Harry Smith, Maggie Rodriguez, Russ Mitchell and Dave Price (January 2008-January 2010)

On December 5, 2007, CBS announced that Maggie Rodriguez would succeed Storm as co-anchor.

On January 7, 2008, The Early Show debuted a new set. During the month of December, The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric shared its studio/set with The Early Show. In addition, the show abandoned the aforementioned local/national hybrid format and replaced it with a national format, similar to its network competitors. The ratings for the series dropped with the institution of these changes. However, the gap between Early and second-place GMA has remained virtually consistent as all three morning shows have seen similar ratings erosion.[7]

On April 16, The Early Show scored a coup with the broadcast of British pop music sensation Susan Boyle singing live for an American TV audience. Not surprisingly, The Early Show enjoyed a relatively successful May sweeps, racking up a 5 percent increase in year-to-year total viewers and remaining flat in the 25-to-54-year-old demographic, at a time when both NBC’s Today Show and ABC’s Good Morning America were shedding viewers to the tune of 3 and 4 percent respectively.[8][9]

Howard Kurtz's WaPo profile of CBS "Early Show" co-host Maggie Rodriguez says her addition to the program accounts for "an uptick in the ratings, lifting spirits at the broadcast." In recent months, Rodriguez has landed some high-profile interviews with the Caylee Anthony grandparents, Levi Johnston, and impugned Miami Priest, Father Alberto Cutié. The scandal beat might not be her favorite, but Rodriguez understands that it's often what her audience gets excited about:

"If I were to program a show for my viewing pleasure, I would make it all news," says Rodriguez, 39. "But we're programming for all of America. We have to include Jon and Kate [Gosselin] — regardless of whether I personally care, they're on the cover of every magazine. You can't be so highbrow that you only cover hard news. I'm not a journalistic snob."

In addition to her morning show duties, the Miami transplant has also regularly been filling in as an anchor for the "CBS Evening News with Katie Couric."[10]

On January 13, 2010, CBS announced that news anchor Russ Mitchell will exit “The Early Show” at the end of the week, leaving a gap in the lineup for the perennially third-place CBS morning show. He will become the national correspondent for CBS and will continue to be the anchor of the Sunday edition of the “CBS Evening News.” CBS will seek a replacement for Mitchell on “The Early Show,” which also features Harry Smith, Maggie Rodriguez, Julie Chen and Dave Price, the weatherman. (Julie Chen has been on maternity leave since September, and a date for her return has not yet been set.)[11]

Julie Chen, Harry Smith, Maggie Rodriguez, Erica Hill and Dave Price (2010-present)

Saturday edition

The Saturday edition of The Early Show premiered in September 1997 as CBS Saturday Morning. It is anchored by Chris Wragge of WCBS and Erica Hill.[12] WCBS' chief meteorologist Lonnie Quinn serves as weather anchor, and Elaine Quijano serves as news anchor. The show features news and lifestyle segments, including two holdovers from the original CBS Saturday Morning: Chef on a Shoestring (a cooking segment) and The Second Cup Cafe (a music segment).

As of 2008, The Saturday Early Show no longer carries a separate name from the weekday edition, and is introduced simply as The Early Show. The program is broadcast live beginning at 7:00 a.m. ET on Saturday mornings from the GM Building on Fifth Avenue in New York City, across the street from Central Park. It airs at various times through the country on most CBS stations. However, depending on the time zone it may or may not air (some CBS affiliates preempt the Saturday morning edition for local newscasts, and some push up the timeslot of the Saturday morning children's program block after the newscast if it ends before 9:00 a.m. in order to make up for it).

The Early Show does not carry a Sunday edition, nor are there any plans for one in the near future, due to the continued success of CBS News Sunday Morning, which has a distinctly different format with long form journalism reports and in depth interview segments.

Early Backstage

Introduced July 14, 2009, The Early Show's Web site features a daily blog called Early Backstage giving visitors a look at things not seen on the broadcast, such as after-the-show anchor antics, celebrity interviews and behind-the-scenes features. Early Backstage is hosted by Adam Wurtzel (Adam the Audience Guy).


CBS has been the perennial third-place finisher in the morning race since 1976, placing second only a few times in the past 30 years. CBS beat Good Morning America for second place the weeks of January 17, 1977 and December 28, 1998. The Today Show was in first place both times. However, CBS outrated The Today Show for second spot over a few weeks in 1984 when Jane Pauley was on maternity leave. At that time, Good Morning America was #1.[13]

In 2007, CBS sought to change the 3rd place position of The Early Show in September 2007 by hiring Shelly Ross, former executive producer of GMA from 1999–2004. Significant changes were made to the program as Ross asserted her influence. For instance, the network no longer allows the frequent local station breaks that were previously allowed during the former broadcast as of January 7, 2008.[14] CBS considers the removal of those breaks vital to creating a national profile for the program. However, some CBS affiliates continue to air the full program on another co-owned sister station and continue to air their local morning news; WWL-TV in New Orleans had their morning news and The Early Show under the former hybrid format until moving the full Early Show to MyNetworkTV sister station WUPL in 2005 and expanding their successful local morning broadcast to four hours. Cincinnati, Ohio's WKRC-TV airs the full show on the CBS station with an hour of all-local news on the co-owned CW channel. Salt Lake City's KUTV (which was formerly owned by the network until 2007) continues to pre-empt the program's first hour despite the network's insistence.

Industry insiders considered Ross' influence to be a serious threat and bring the profile of the show up to make the program a true competitor to NBC's Today and ABC's Good Morning America. However, after only six months, Ross was fired from the position, after frequent feuds with staff, including with Smith and Chen.[15]

In 2008, TV season, The Early Show is showing ratings strength with double-digit increases compared with a year earlier. Today has averaged 6 million viewers (up 6%) and a 2.2 in adults 25-54 (flat). ABC's Good Morning America has averaged 4.9 million (up 1%) and a 1.7 in adults 25-54 (flat). Early Show has averaged 3.5 million (up 20%) and a 1.3 in adults 25-54 (up 30%).[16]

For the fourth quarter of 2008 (9/22/08-12/28/08), THE EARLY SHOW (2.92 million viewers) posted its best delivery among total viewers in three years (since 2.93m in 2005) and cut the gap with GMA by 578,000 viewers. The CBS broadcast is also in its closest competitive position to both GMA and Today in a decade in total viewers and the key news demographic of adults 25-54. ([citation needed]

Total Viewers ‘08 Total Viewers ‘07 Change

  • The Early Show 2,920,000 2,780,000 +5%
  • Today 5,459,000 5,499,000 -1%
  • Good Morning America 4,508,000 4,946,000 -9%

Year-to-year, CBS' The Early Show cut the Total Viewer gap by 190,000 between 2nd place Good Morning America.[17]

Total Viewers: NBC: 5,820,000 / ABC: 4,522,000 / CBS: 3,213,000

A25-54 rating: NBC: 2.1/15 / ABC: 1.7/11 / CBS: 1.2/8

On WBNS-TV 10 in Columbus, the first half-hour of The Early Show managed to surpass NBC's Today in ratings.[18]

All three broadcasts increased viewership from the prior week.

Total Viewers: NBC: 5,700,000 / ABC: 4,600,000 / CBS: 3,100,000

A25-54 Rating: NBC: 2.1 / ABC: 1.6 / CBS: 1.1[19]

Even as Smith, Chen and Rodriguez grow more comfortable after CBS's failed experiment with a four-anchor team, the program remains far behind its rivals. After the May sweeps, the "Early Show" boasted of a 5 percent increase in viewers, while "Today" dipped 3 percent and "Good Morning America" 4 percent.[9]

Theme music

The debut theme for the The Early Show' was a typical opener for an American morning news program. When the show reformatted with new hosts and set they used an instrumental version of Sting's 1999 hit, Brand New Day until late October 2006, when it was replaced by the CBS Evening News theme from James Horner. In January 7, 2008, CBS made an attempt to relaunch the show with new hosts and set plus an updated theme music that of the James Horner's composition. The theme was modified for a number of times since the reformat took launch.

International broadcasts

In Australia, The Early Show airs on Network Ten weekday mornings from 4.00am under the title "The CBS Early Show", with Fridays edition being held over to the following Monday. A national weather map of Australia is inserted during local affiliate cut-aways for weather. No local news is inserted, however. America's top 3 breakfast television programs air in Australia almost simultaneously, with NBC Today airing on the Seven Network at 4.00am and Good Morning America on Nine airing from 3.30 am. Unlike the above, The Early Show is not condensed or edited. It is, however, pre-empted in most regional areas for paid and religious programming.

In the Philippines, it is currently being shown on Lifestyle Network Tue to Sat 6 to 8 am (local time).[20]


In 2010, The Early Show was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award for "Outstanding TV Journalism Segment" for the segment "Reverend’s Revelation: Minister Speaks Out About Being Transgender" during the 21st GLAAD Media Awards.[21]

See also


  2. ^ THE MORNING PROGRAM CBS; Weekdays, 7:30-9 a.m. EST
  3. ^ a b CBS cancels its latest breakfast-time flop
  4. ^ "Gumbel's "The Early Show" Bombs in Ratings". 2000. Retrieved 2000-03-31. 
  5. ^ Gumbel leaving 'Early Show,' CBS
  6. ^ "Better Early Than Never". 2006. Retrieved 2006-03-30. 
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ a b
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ Michele Greppi (2008-09-22). "CNN's Hill to Co-Anchor CBS' 'Early Show' on Saturdays". TV Week. Retrieved 2008-09-22. 
  13. ^ "Good Morning America' drops to third in ratings". 1999-01-08. 
  14. ^ NewsChannel - Nashville, Tennessee - NewsChannel 5 This Morning From 7-8AM To Air On Cable Channel
  15. ^ Gough, Paul. Ross fired from CBS' 'Early Show'. Hollywood Reporter. 6 March 2008.
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ Philippine schedule at
  21. ^ "21st Annual GLAAD Media Awards - English Language Nominees". Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. 2010. Retrieved February 21, 2010. 

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