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Rene Syler to Leave


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Rene Syler, one of four anchors on CBS's Early Show, will leave the show at the end of the year. Syler is leaving the third-place morning show Dec. 22 to "pursue other media opportunities," including publishing a book, according to CBS.


Syler has been an Early Show anchor since Oct. 2002, when the show took on a multi-anchor format . Syler, hailing from the CBS-owned station in Dallas, was the least known of the team, which also included national personalities Harry Smith, Julie Chen and Hannah Storm. Her contributions have included interviews with Laura Bush, Jimmy Carter, Colin Powell and many other politicians and celebrities.


These days, the CBS morning show ranks as a distant third to NBC's Today show and ABC's Good Morning America. For example, the week of November 13, Today averaged 5.74 million viewers, GMA averaged 5.41 million and The Early Show averaged 2.84 million, according to Nielsen Media Research.


Prior to her work in Dallas, Syler was a weekend anchor in Birmingham, Ala. and Reno, Nev. and a weekend reporter in Reno. Her book, Good Enough Mother, is scheduled to be published in March.


Syler's departure is the first in what is expected to be a series of changes CBS will make to The Early Show. CBS News and Sports President Sean McManus has said the show was next on his list of priorities after re-launching The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric.


CBS has not yet determined whether the The Early Show will keep a four-anchor format and replace Syler or air with the three remaining anchors.





I liked Rene on the Early Show. I think she was the better of the female anchors. She just seemed "real".

Hopefully all will be well for her.

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Rene Syler, lame-duck coanchor of CBS's The Early Show, will undergo a bilateral prophylactic mastectomy next month.


Syler's mother and father both had breast cancer, and she has endured several breast cancer scares and painful biopsies. She was working on a first-person piece about her forthcoming surgery when she was told that Early Show "was going in a different direction. It wasn't like there was any room for debate," she says.


Her bosses knew about her medical condition, Syler says, but she doesn't believe it was a factor in their decision. Her swan song is Dec. 22; her CBS contract runs until October '08.


Syler, 43, labels her plan as "pretty radical. I've been thinking about it for a while. The difficult part is that I have two young kids They can't be without their mommy. I don't want to be in a position where I'm fighting for my life."


Syler says she and her husband, sales executive Buff Parham, will tell their children about her operation closer to the Jan. 9 date. "I want them to have a really great Christmas," she says. "I don't want to burden them."


Some days, Syler feels confident about her decision. Other days, "I wake up and feel like I only have X number of days with my breasts. It's like I have a date with the executioner. But when my doctor said I'd never have to have another mammogram or biopsy, I felt better."


Syler says that her sister, Tracy Syler-Jones, 42, director of communications at Texas Christian University, is also thinking about having the surgery.


As for The Early Show, Syler had no warning of CBS's decision, she says. "I was surprised. Nobody ever wants to be told, 'We're going in a different direction and you're not part of that.' We mutually decided it was a good time to move on."


Her departure is not without an upside. "This gives me time to recuperate," she says. Her first book, Good Enough Mother, is to be published in March.


Who's No. 4? Meanwhile, the big question at CBS News is who will replace Syler in the anchor quartet at the ever-struggling Early Show.


CBS morning honcho Steve Friedman confirms that he's looking for a fourth to join Harry Smith, Hannah Stormand Julie Chen before the show re-launches Jan. 2 with a new set and more distinct roles for the principals.

Since Early Show's October '02 debut, all four coanchors have taken turns reading news, conducting big interviews, and covering breaking stories from the field. That will change.


Friedman, who joined CBS in April, doesn't like "amorphous shows where everybody does everything."


At NBC's No. 1 Today and ABC's No. 2 Good Morning America, anchors have defined roles. Also, both broadcasts have separate news anchors. "They've done very well over the decades," says Friedman, two-time former Today boss. "The audience seems to like that."


The audience hasn't seemed to like any CBS morning show since the network broke into the game in 1954. Walter Cronkite, Jack Paar, Will Rogers Jr., and Jimmy Dean all served as hosts during various early incarnations.


"When push comes to shove, I'll probably bring in someone else to do the news," Friedman says. "For better or for worse, and I'm not saying this disparagingly, we will have what Matt Lauer did for me and Ann Curry does for them" at Today."


Friedman's not talking, but CBS insiders say his wish list includes Campbell Brown, coanchor of NBC's weekend Today; Kate Snow of ABC's weekend GMA; CNN star Anderson Cooper; and GMA anchor Diane Sawyer.


Should Friedman land one of them - Brown and Snow are his best shots - smart money says she/he would be an anchor, with one of the current troika being demoted to news anchor.


As of now, Smith is Early Show's reporter in the field. (He'll anchor from Washington today.) Chen, who spends summers in L.A. to host Big Brother, will do more stories from there, Friedman says.


Storm conducts many of the on-set interviews. "I hate to say this, because sometimes it's taken out of context, but she's the mother," Friedman says. "She should do a lot of pieces about kids. If it's a mother-daughter piece, why should Harry do it?"





Poor Rene. At least shes getting paid until 2008. She can recover completely and spend a lot of time with her family before getting back in the game.

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