NEW YORK — CBS, seeking to be a contender in the morning program wars, said Wednesday that its new morning effort will premiere on Jan. 12, succeeding the low-rated "CBS Morning News" and the one-hour "CBS Early Morning News" that precedes that program.
The first part, a 90-minute "hard news" broadcast to be produced by CBS News, will air from 6 to 7:30 a.m., retain the title of "The CBS Morning News," and be co-anchored by Forrest Sawyer and Faith Daniels, CBS said.
The second part, described as an "information-entertainment" show, will air from 7:30 to 9 a.m., bear the title of "The Morning Program" and be produced by a special unit reporting to CBS entertainment executives.
"The Morning Program," which will have two comedians (Mark McEwen and Bob Saget) as its weatherman and announcer, respectively, will be co-hosted by actress Mariette Hartley and former New York news anchorman Rolland Smith, as previously announced.
Its executive producer is Bob Shanks, who was instrumental in the creation of ABC's successful "Good Morning America" in 1975. That program currently is second in ratings to NBC's resurgent "Today" show."
David Corvo, acting executive producer of "The CBS Morning News" since the disgruntled exit from that program last summer by Susan Winston, will be executive producer of the new CBS News morning broadcast.
Charlie Rose, who now is co-anchoring the "CBS Morning News" with another temporary anchor, Sandy Hill, will return to Washington and CBS' late-hour "Nightwatch" next month. Hill's plans are not yet known, a spokeswoman said.
The two new programs will originate from separate studios at the CBS Broadcast Center on New York's West Side. The set of the Hartley-Smith broadcast reportedly includes a working kitchen and a wood-burning fireplace.
Wednesday's announcement of a start date for CBS' new two-part effort marked another step in a process begun last August by now ex-CBS News President Van Gordon Sauter.
Although the announcement doubtless pleased many CBS affiliates, one affiliate executive whose station dropped "The CBS Morning News" this fall said he wanted to see what the new effort looked like on the air before he would put it back in his station's lineup.
"Our CBS representative here says it'll be a new, improved dynamic morning vehicle," said Paul Raymon, vice president of WAGA-TV in Atlanta, which dropped the "CBS Morning News" on Sept. 26.
"We are very interested and hopeful it will be that," he said, but WAGA wants to see the proof on the air. His station now runs a half-hour local newscast and the syndicated "Today's Business" and "Hour Magazine" programs in the mornings.
If he decides to put the new CBS efforts in his station's morning schedule, he said, the earliest he could do that would be Feb. 1.