Alycia Lane, a former Philadelphia TV news anchor who was fired from her last job after a series of off-air incidents made her fodder for tabloids and gossip columns, was hired Tuesday as a reporter and weekend anchor at KNBC-TV Channel 4.
Lane, who had spent five years as the principal weeknight anchor for the 4 p.m., 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts at CBS-owned-and-operated KYW before she was let go in early 2008, will start helming KNBC's weekend evening broadcasts Aug. 29. She replaces Kim Baldonado, who in July was promoted to anchor the station's daily "Midday Report" and the weekly "News Extra" investigative reporting series.
KNBC's initial news release about Lane's hiring touted her resume and accomplishments, including two Emmys for local reporting, boosting ratings in Philadelphia and a stint as a weekend anchor and reporter for WTVJ, the NBC station in Miami. It contained no mention of the events that undercut her standing at KYW.
In May 2007, Lane defended sending e-mails and suggestive photos of herself in a bikini to NFL Network anchor Rich Eisen and, accidentally, his wife. Her dating life with local personalities sparked other gossipy headlines. That December, she was arrested and charged with assault, with authorities saying she struck a New York police officer during a traffic dispute.
The charges were dismissed a few months later, but KYW didn't wait for the outcome. In January 2008, Michael Colleran, then president and general manager of KYW, fired her, explaining in a statement that "it would be impossible for Alycia to continue to report the news as she herself has become the focus of so many news stories." He added, "We wish to make clear that we are not prejudging the outcome of the criminal case against Alycia that is pending in New York."
Another scandal broke in June 2008 when Lane's former co-anchor, Larry Mendte, was fired after authorities discovered he had hacked into Lane's private e-mail account and leaked personal information and photos. He was convicted on felony invasion-of-privacy charges and sentenced to six months of house arrest.
In KNBC's initial announcement Tuesday, Craig Robinson, president and general manager, praised Lane as "an experienced anchor who has a tremendous ability to engage and connect with the audiences. Her energy and talent will be great assets to KNBC, and we look forward to her contributions to our newsroom."
Robinson and other KNBC executives declined to be interviewed but later Tuesday, in response to inquiries, the station released another statement that said, "We're aware of her background and have looked into the claims against her, and we are very comfortable with our decision to have her join the station."
One KNBC insider said the station had been approached about six months ago by Lane's representatives, who said Lane wanted to move to the West Coast to be with her boyfriend. The source, who asked not to be identified because no public comments had been authorized, said that station executives expected a "flurry" of scrutiny with the announcement but felt that the controversy would eventually die down and that Lane's strengths as a journalist would win over audiences and critics.
In a separate statement, Lane, 37, said Tuesday, "I am thrilled to once again be a part of the NBC family. Having enjoyed working with NBC in Miami, I'm excited to be back doing what I love, moving forward, and using my experiences to make me a better journalist. I'm grateful to NBC for the opportunity to contribute to an already stellar TV news team."
Gregg Willinger, Lane's agent, emphasized in an interview that Lane was focused on "looking forward."
"She is one of the premier anchor talents in America," Willinger said. "She had lots of opportunities on both coasts, but NBC and Los Angeles is where she wants to be."