by Laura Nachman
Bucks County Courier Times
August 21, 2007
A couple of former television industry professionals aren’t impressed with the premise of Fox’s new reality show “Anchorwoman.”
The show, premiering Wednesday at 8 p.m. on Fox, concerns former bikini model Lauren Jones, who was one of “Barker’s Beauty” on “Price is Right,” attempting to become a news anchor in Tyler, Texas.
Former Fox news anchor Jill Chernekoff wrote in an email, “Sad to see another local newsroom sell its integrity for ratings. Even more disheartening to see women further denigrated in the news business. On the other hand, it’s pretty hard to take seriously a Fox comedy based on a 111th market station, typically a training ground for inexperienced reporters and wannabe anchors. If nothing else, maybe Ms. Jones will learn from her ‘exposure’ to dress for success rather than pole dancing. As far as ‘Anchorwoman’ being a commentary on the state of local news....it’s pretty hard to upset something that’s already suffering.”
Former WB17 news director Rich Scott wrote, “Local news viewership is down across the country. Many viewers say they just don’t find local news relevant to their lives anymore. Shows like this further trivialize local news, and reinforce the opinion of some viewers that it’s just not worth watching anymore. I’m sure most people realize that it takes some experience and training to become a local television news anchor, even in a tiny Texas television market. Hopefully viewers will see this for what it is... an entertainment, reality show.”
Jones isn’t the first former beauty queen to go into the news business. In Philadelphia, Susan Barnett and Mary Stoker Smith of CBS3 and Connie Colla of CN8 competed in the Miss USA pageant. Fox29’s Kerri Lee Halkett was the runner-up in the Miss Teen Victoria pageant. Karen Rogers of 6ABC was the first runner-up to Miss New Jersey. Nationally, Diane Sawyer of “Good Morning America,” Paula Zahn of CNN, Deborah Norville of “Inside Edition” and Oprah Winfrey competed in pageants.
Industry sources are wondering what will happen with NBC10 meteorologist Doug Kammerer, whose four-year contract is set to expire any day. Kammerer, the weekday 5 p.m. weather anchor and 10 p.m. weather anchor for myPHL17 could not be reached for comment.
Meanwhile, the station doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to replace former weekend meteorologist Amy Freeze, who departed for Chicago a few months ago. Former morning weekend meteorologist Dave Warren has been working the weekend evening shift and former Fox29 weekend weather anchor Karen Thomas has been freelancing for Channel 10 on the weekend morning shift.
NBC10 isn’t the only station with a weather vacancy. CBS3 will be looking for a meteorologist to replace Brooks Tomlin (http://www.brookstomlin.com/), who moved to Charleston, S.C. How about giving Sean Murphy of sister station CW57 a shot at doing weather?
Fox29 is down two news anchors. It doesn’t appear that weekend news anchor Tom Burlington will return to the air, after being suspended for allegedly using a racial slur in a production meeting a few weeks ago.
And the station announced the departure of “Good Day Philadelphia” news anchor George Mallet last week. Mallet will be a news anchor for a television station in Milwaukee.
“American Idol” tryouts take place at the Wachovia Center Monday. However, the auditions will be presided over by producers, not judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson. The only time Abdul comes to the Philly area is to go onto QVC.