In a move aimed at calming the sometimes frantic pace of Joan Rivers' late-night show and improving its ratings, the show's producer has been replaced with one who used to work for Barbara Walters.
Bruce McKay, who had produced Fox Broadcasting's "The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers" since its premiere last October, was notified a month ago that his contract would not be renewed, Fox spokesman Brad Turell said Friday.
McKay's replacement, who began work Monday and produced her first Rivers show the next day, is JoAnn Goldberg, who had been an independent producer with Ramadam Productions in New York and previously produced the "Barbara Walters Specials" for ABC Entertainment from 1976 to 1983.
The reasons for the change, Turell said, were "basically to help improve the show," to "calm the pace of the show a little bit" and to "refine what we thought was a fine concept and make it better. There'll be no drastic changes. It'll be subtle.
"We don't anticipate format changes," he added, but the one-hour talk-variety program might reduce the number of guests who appear on it each night from four to three to allow for greater depth in interviews.
The show has two executive producers--Rivers' husband, Edgar Rosenberg, and William Sameth. Each will remain with the program.
"The Late Show" was launched after Rivers' much-publicized departure from NBC's "Tonight Show," where for several years the sharp-tongued comedienne had been the only substitute host during Johnny Carson's vacations.
When she started life anew as Carson's rival, her program was aired on 75 stations and for the first two weeks had an average rating of 4.2, Turell said.
Now carried by 111 stations, including Fox's KTTV Channel 11 in Los Angeles, her show has been averaging a 2.7 rating, he said.
In the most recent Nielsens, Carson's "Tonight Show" averaged a 6.9 rating. Each rating point represents 874,000 homes.
Despite the lower ratings, Turell said that the stations carrying Rivers' show are pleased by its demographics--the makeup of its audience. However, he added, "Our ratings have been higher, and that's what we're trying to do--to get back to where we were."