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'omg! Insider' Aims to Be 'SportsCenter' of Entertainment

Revamped CTD/Yahoo talker puts Kevin Frazier, Thea Andrews on the anchor desk 12/17/2012 12:01:00 AM Eastern

To the folks at CBS Television Distribution
and Yahoo, re-launching The Insider as omg!Insider is no LOL-ing matter. Strategically, the
plan is to mine Yahoo!’s massive online audience and
tap into CTD’s production expertise to create the ideal
entertainment magazine for today’s pop-culture fan, one
that hones in on the interests and habits of its audience.

The new show—featuring a blend of Yahoo’s omg!
pop culture website and CTD’s more traditional magazine
show The Insider—will launch on Jan. 7. Former
ESPN personality and Entertainment Tonight weekend
anchor Thea Andrews will join Kevin Frazier at the
anchor desk, with Brooke Anderson moving over to
Entertainment Tonight as a correspondent. Comedian
and radio host Michael Yo and fashion reporter Mary
Kitchen will be part of the new team also, while omg!'s
Kristin Aldridge and Theo Von, and Insider's Keltie
Colleen and Nina Parker will show up to hype stories
they’re working on.

“The whole idea behind [this partnership] was the
reach of omg! and the Yahoo home page,” says Joe
Ferullo, CTD senior VP, programming and development.
“Omg! gets 30 million unique visitors a month,
while the Yahoo home page gets 180 million unique
visits each month. Both Yahoo! and The Insider are big
brands, but we all feel that together both brands can
be even stronger.”

Brad Bessey, omg! Insider’s executive producer along with Linda Bell Blue, spent
15 years at Entertainment Tonight, where he had been
coexecutive producer since 2005, until he departed in
2010 to launch CBS’ The Talk. “We are going to add
some perspective and a different point of view,” Bessey
says. “We’ll give people a closer look inside the headlines.
We want to be spontaneous, fun and unpredictable
while creating a more authentic relationship with
the audience and with the celebrities we cover.”

All parties involved in this effort believe the time is
ripe for changing the traditional magazine format: two
easy-on-the-eyes anchors seated behind a desk reporting
the news of the day for viewers. For most pop culture
fans connected to social media and smartphones,
headlines cross their transoms all day long, making an
evening recap a tad obsolete. What omg! Insider hopes
to become is a fun place for viewers to gain some perspective
on the stories they’ve heard about throughout
the day.

Ferullo compares the idea to ESPN’s SportsCenter,
which is a mix of news reporting and fun banter.

“It’s all about being conversational,” he says. “This
has been going on for years—it’s not this voice of God
telling me in a staccato way what’s going on and what’s
important. Viewers want to spend time with someone
they have a relationship with [whose] authority comes
from the fact that they really know what they’re talking
about and that they aren’t just readers.”

While The Insider morphs into a new show, Richard
Cusick, Yahoo! VP of entertainment and lifestyles, says
the omg! website is getting a reboot of its own.

“We are trying to get away from this traditional view
that stories should be held to break on-air,” Cusick
says. “We want to leverage the best of the Web to
break news 24/7 on omg! and then use TV for what it’s
better suited for—deeper discussion of these topics.”

Obviously, social media will be a part of those efforts,
with tools such as Facebook, Twitter and Skype
integrated into what the show does on a daily basis,
Bessey says.

“I have four things I need to do with viewers,” he
explains. “I need to create a relationship with them,
give them some real information, create some sort
of emotional experience so they laugh or cry or feel
something, and they have to come away feeling like
they have learned something and are plugged into
what’s going on.”

To help accomplish all of that, omg! Insider is getting
a new set, in which Frazier and Andrews will be
surrounded by omg! Insider’s working reporters and
producers. The show will often cut to casual conversations
between the show’s hosts and its reporters, talking
about the story of the day, and celebrities will often
show up to chat. Surrounding the show’s anchors will
be screens and electronic news tickers, giving everything
a lively feeling.

“People will be walking in, walking out, talking on
the phone—it’s a working newsroom,” Bessey says.
“The idea is that we are connected with this world, and
the world of entertainment is always buzzing.”

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