UPDATED: There were Internet claims at the time of retiring ET host Mary Hart’s announcement that The Insider‘s Lara Spencer had been chosen as her replacement. But we knew they weren’t true. Instead, we reported that CBS Corp CEO Les Moonves, CBS Television Distribution President John Nogawski, and ET’s producers “would look at her and other outside candidates”. And that’s exactly what they did. They went to the competition and fixed on Nancy O’Dell, veteran co-host of rival Access Hollywood, who will succeed Hart when she departs Entertainment Tonight after almost 30 years. O’Dell will join ET in January as a special correspondent and substitute anchor, and will assume her permanent role as co-anchor alongside Mark Steines after Hart’s departure at the end of the 2010-2011 TV season. “When Mary Hart told us she planned to leave ET at the end of this season, we went into denial,” ET executive producer Linda Bell Blue said. “But we also knew we had one tough job to do — find someone to fill that seat. In Nancy we have found that someone.”
Lotsa Internet sites are claiming just now that The Insider‘s Lara Spencer already has been chosen to replace Mary Hart as host of Entertainment Tonight. I, too, heard the rumor that Spencer was contractually guaranteed the gig during her last negotiation. But not so fast… “It hasn’t been promised to her. Her people planted that,” an insider tells me. I hear CBS Corp CEO Les Moonves, and CBS Television Distribution President John Nogawski, and ET‘s producers “discussed that she would do The Insider and we would look at her and other candidates outside so there was total transparency.” Spencer might still get the gig: she has that chirpy cheerful quality TV execs choose. But, jeez, who cares? I don’t even know her name. And lame celeb shows like ET are a dime a dozen on the tube these days and suffer from the same blandness.