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CBS boots Maggie Rodriguez from anchor chair

Miami television anchor Maggie Rodriguez's fairy-tale rise through the ranks of network television came Maggie3 to an abrupt end -- or, at the least, a rest stop -- on Tuesday, when CBS dumped her as part of a ruthless makeover of The Early Show, its daybreak newscast.

Rodriguez, co-anchor Harry Smith and weatherman Dave Price were all ousted from the show, which routinely gets clobbered in the Nielsen ratings by NBC's Today Show and ABC's Good Morning America.

"This is no reflection on Harry or Maggie or Dave," CBS News President Sean McManus told the Miami Herald from New York. "They did exactly what we asked them to do. But the ratings suggested that we needed to make a wholesale change."

Rodriguez could not be reached for comment. But McManus said she's in negotiations to stay at CBS in another role -- perhaps on its Sunday Morning newscast or 48 Hours documentary series, both of which she's guest-hosted.

"Maggie's terrific," said McManus, who plucked her from the anchor desk at WFOR-CBS 4 after seeing her newscasts while he was in Miami supervising the network's coverage of the 2007 Super Bowl. "Maggie has a very, very bright future. I'm hoping we can work out something at CBS News that's good for her."

Rodriguez started as a fill-in Early Show anchor but within months had taken over the program's Saturday edition. Soon after, she became weekday co-anchor and occasionally sat in for Katie Couric on the CBS Evening News.

In an interview with the Herald earlier this year she called the fact that McManus had seen her doing an offbeat Super Bowl-week newscast from the Versace Mansion on South Beach ‘‘sheer luck, one in a million." Except for a stint at a Los Angeles station, Rodriguez had spent her life in South Florida before the CBS offer: She graduated from Our Lady of Lourdes Academy in Southwest Miami-Dade and, in 1991, from the University of Miami, then worked as a reporter at Spanish-language WLTV-Univisión 23 before settling in at WFOR in 2000.

Rodriguez is hardly the first CBS anchor laid low by bad ratings on an early-morning newscast. CBS' morning news shows have been Nielsen disasters since the network began airing them in the 1950s. Even Walter Cronkite -- who co-anchored a morning newscast with a hand puppet named Charlemagne -- was a ratings flop.

"We've had problems in the morning for decades, absolutely," McManus agreed. "It's been well documented. We've not been able to succeed in programming from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. The Early Show is profitable. It has a sizable audience, but, in relation to other networks, we're not as competitive as we would like to be."

In recent weeks, the newscast's ratings have declined even from their usual lows. While The Today Show averages about 5.6 million viewers daily and Good Morning America 4.6 million, The Early Show lags far behind with 2.9 million.

The numbers disappointed McManus, who had been expecting The Early Show to steal viewers away from Good Morning America when it switched anchors from Diane Sawyer to George Stephanopoulos late last year.

"I just felt that it was time to do something dramatic and something bold," McManus said. "The quality Maggierid,jpeg of the show had reached a point where it's competitive with what ABC and NBC are doing in terms of booking guests and doing stories, but the growth in ratings just hasn't been there."

Rodriguez and the others will be replaced by Chris Wragge and Erica Hill, anchors of the Saturday version of The Early Show.Jeff Glor, anchor of Saturday's CBS Evening News, will become the newsreader, and Marysol Castro, formerly of Good Morning America's weekend edition, will do the weather.

Comments

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Norma U

The morning show hasn't been the same since Dave,Harry, and Maggie left. I find myself bored and often turning the channel..way to go cbs, you really messed up!!

Mike Scimeca

Sorry to see those three go. I'm sure Maggie will surface somewhere. I'm going wherever she goes.

HILDA CLAYTON

THE SHOW SUCK'S WITHOUT MAGGIE AND HARRY/I LIKE ROBIN ,AND GEORGE O/K THAT'S WHO I WATCH NOW.

J Hoppes

I quit watching the show because of Maggie. All focus had to be on her like she was so cute and funny. That got old. Plus she just didn't connect with the other two at all. I really liked Harry and Dave so I wished they'd just dumped Maggie and left those two. Those two were a class act. I am back watching the show now with Maggie gone.

Jane T. Mitchell

I have tried to continue watching The Early Show, but it's just not up to par without the trio of Maggie, Harry and Dave. They had class which is missing in the new line up. I'll be switching too.

Linda

I like the new team; I often changed channels to GMA because of the gossipy nature of Maggie and Julie. Now GMA has gotten that way - I switched back and was pleasantly surprised by the professional yet friendly demeanor of the new crew.

SAM

I USE TO WATCH THE EARLY SHOW BUT SINCE MAGGIE,HARRY,AND DAVE ARE NO LONGER ON THERE. I DONT WATCH IT ANYMORE. THEY MADE THE EARLY SHOW. WHAT A BIG MISTEAK.

Bonnie K

I think Harry, Maggie and Dave made a fabulous team.....the yo-yo's on there now are a joke. I changed the channel I had watch ....If Harry and Maggie ever team up again, you have my vote and my attention!!!!

Posted by Bonnie K

BB Doll

I stopped watching the Today show when Katie Couric left because I really didn't care in what part of the world Matt Lauer was. I only liked Ann Curic, I find Al is a stuffed shirt. I switched to the Early Show because I enjoyed Harry, Maggie and especially Dave. They're gone now so I went to ABC with Robin, George and their crew. I watch CBS's shows after 9 AM. Watching CBS's new morning crew is like eating boiled eggs without salt!

Mary Ann

What will happen to Chris Wragge? I enjoy him, but I believe their was to much of Erica Hill.You should have given him a chance.

mb

Wragge was kicked to the curb.

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