03-06-2008, 07:45 AM
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Shelley Ross was dropped Thursday as senior executive producer at CBS' "The Early Show" after only six months on the job.

The controversial ABC News veteran, who turned around ABC's "Good Morning America," didn't have the time to do the same at the perennially third-place "Early Show." Rumors of staff strife and the resignations of up to 21 "Early Show" employees plagued Ross during her tenure. Tales of Ross' time at "The Early Show" had at least twice made the New York Post's Page Six, most recently on Thursday. Her last day in the office was Monday although she didn't work on "The Early Show."

Taking over temporarily will be Rick Kaplan, who is the executive producer of "CBS Evening News With Katie Couric." He'll remain in that job, too, though he'll devote the majority of his time immediately to "The Early Show," beginning with the 3:15 a.m. wake-up call this morning.

"Rick has built an exceptionally strong senior team there, and the broadcast will be in very capable hands until he returns full-time to the 'Evening News,' " CBS News/Sports president Sean McManus said in a statement Thursday. McManus declined a request for an interview.

McManus and Kaplan met with "The Early Show" staff Thursday afternoon to discuss the show and its future. Kaplan told The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday afternoon that the show was important and it was key to continue its recent ratings successes.

"It's built up some great momentum," Kaplan said. "The show is looking better. Nobody wants the show to slow down or lose the energy that it's built up."

He said he was new to the job but said that he got a good feeling from the staff during the meeting.

Ross joined CBS News in September after the network removed the leadership team of vp morning broadcasts Steve Friedman and senior executive producer Michael Bass. The two had strengthened the show's position in a time period that is dominated by NBC's "Today" (where both Bass and Friedman once worked) as well as ABC's "Good Morning America." CBS acknowledged the ratings gains but said they wanted to take the show in a different direction, which led them to Ross.

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