Grrr! No Loyalty in Musical Anchor Chairs

When will television learn?

The big news this week is that "Today" co-host Katie Couric is all but an announcement away from confirming that she will be taking over as the sole anchor on the "CBS Evening News."

This is all good for Couric, but bad for two networks.

Couric will get to sleep in and still enjoy the lifestyle she has become accustomed to, with sources saying she'll get a $20 million per year contract to appear as an anchor and a correspondent for the venerable "60 Minutes."

If I were Couric's agent, or Couric for that matter, I would be jumping up and down.

But the networks will suffer because the viewers will suffer.

Look, Bryant Gumbel was a morning news staple when he moved to CBS for a prime-time news magazine show, and even the king of morning news lagged in the ratings. That's because he was taken out of his element and his time slot.

A later move to the "CBS Early Show" didn't help bring Gumbel back to the ratings dominance he enjoyed at NBC, because by that time people were confused about to where to find him.

And Gumbel is one of the best and most respected broadcast journalists alive today. So what does that mean?

It means anchors can't play musical networks. What works on NBC News doesn't work on CBS News and what works on CBS News doesn't work on ABC News.

Bob Costas and Ryan Seacrest are probably just as good as Larry King, but when they fill in for the elder statesman of CNN, it doesn't do much to boost the ratings. And again, Costas is NBC's number one sports guy, and Seacrest is ultra-famous as the host of "American Idol."

The point is, what works on one channel doesn't always work on the others. It just doesn't translate. It's like trying to run the Grrr! column on It just won't work.

But the difference is, wouldn't be risking millions of dollars when the move doesn't pan out. CBS has a lot riding on this history-making move. Is it worth it?

We'll just have to wait and see, but if it doesn't, both NBC and CBS will be a lot worse off than Couric will. For her, it's a win-win situation.

As for Gumbel, Couric's first co-host on "Today," he's faring very well on HBO with "Real Sports." Will we see a pay cable channel show in Couric's future? Only time (and the Nielsens) will tell.

Either way, Couric's making the right decision for her and her family.

Grrr! Allergies

Spring has sprung and brought with it the allergy season. I don't know what's worse, the plethora of "ask your doctor if this drug is right for you" ads or the constant sniffling and nose blowing that has invaded commuter trains, buses, offices and malls around the country.

I sometimes wonder if allergens are released into the air by Kleenex, just as Valentine's Day might as well have been invented by Hallmark. But just as quickly as De Beers stole V-Day from the card company by making diamonds the gift of choice for the romantic "holiday," the pharmaceutical companies stole allergy season from the tissue maker.

I've tried a bunch of allergy medicines and for what it's worth, I find sneezing and watery eyes a bit more tolerable than the cottonmouth, sweating, fatigue or loss of appetite I experienced from any number of drugs.

That said, I have a mild case of allergies. I know people who can't see during the months of April and May.

But to the allergy Oblivions who blow and wipe and drip their germs over the next few months, please try to dispose of your tissues and wash your hands every once in a while. There's nothing worse than walking into a conference room to a table full of crumpled up, used tissues. Grrr!

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