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At CBS News, the Anchor Stays in the Picture

Give us 22 minutes, and we'll give you a lot of Katie Couric.” That seems to be the credo behind planned format changes to the CBS Evening News, which welcomes its new anchor Sept. 5.

According to sources at CBS, Couric will get a lot more camera time than her evening-news counterparts, Brian Williams of NBC Nightly News and Charles Gibson of ABC World News.

Couric's predecessor, interim anchor Bob Schieffer, often referred to himself as a player-coach, pointedly ceding the spotlight to his correspondents.

But plans leaking out of West 57th Street make CBS Evening News With Katie Couric sound like All Katie, All the Time.

For each newscast, Couric will introduce the lead story of the day (often with a sidebar), conduct at least one—if not two—newsmaker interviews, and provide voiceovers for two “newsreel” segments.

The anchor will get a rest during the previously announced “Free Speech” segments, in which guest commentators (including Schieffer) sound off on a chosen topic.

But then, says the source, it's back to Couric, who will tee up a “lighthearted, uplifting” story from one of the correspondents to close out the show.

Seems to us that CBS is just making the most of its investment. After all, when you shell out $15 million on a new sports car, why keep it in the garage?

Therapy To Go

If there's one thing New Yorkers love more than psychotherapy, it's psychotherapy on the go. And Dr. Keith Ablow is on the scene.

Ablow, the magnificently chrome-domed psychiatrist and author, has been filming mini healing sessions on the streets of New York City to promote The Dr. Keith Ablow Show, his new syndicated daytime talk show premiering Sept. 11.

In between appearances on the network morning shows and Larry King Live, where he provided expert analysis on the latest twist in the JonBenet Ramsey case, Ablow offered his services to unwitting patients on the street, even following them into taxi cabs to inspire them to spill their guts.

Warner Bros.' Tele­pictures, which is producing Ablow, has quietly made clips of the sessions available on AOL Video and video- sharing site YouTube in hopes of igniting a viral marketing campaign. The clips will likely be used as bumpers when the show airs.

In one backseat session, a young woman breaks down in tears as she tells Ablow about the way her parents affect her body image.

No word on who paid the fare.

NFL Says, “Hey Ya!”

The National Football League (NFL) is hoping director Bryan Barber can do for flamboyant football star Chad Johnson what he did for flamboyant rap star-turned-actor André Benjamin.

Apparently impressed with his work on several videos for Benjamin's hip-hop duo OutKast (including the hit “Hey Ya!”), the league drafted Barber to direct a series of new ads for its NFL Network that break this week.

The spots, which will promote the network's NFL Replay program, feature eight of the league's most outspoken players in humorous lip-synching and dance routines.

In addition to Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Johnson, Jeremy Shockey, Keyshawn Johnson, Ray Lewis, Warren Sapp, Tony Gonzalez, Willis McGahee and Clinton Portis will appear on a gridiron set surrounded by a full complement of comely cheerleaders (and a few unusually dishy referees).

Barber also wrote and directed the recently released film Idlewild, which stars Benjamin, his OutKast mate Big Boi, R&B singer Macy Gray and actor Ving Rhames.

Incidentally, the ad campaign (developed by the NFL Network and Los Angeles-based agency Triple Double) was shot on the same soundstage as The Wizard of Oz.

Unfortunately, the Bengals' Johnson does not don a blue gingham dress and lip-synch “Over the Rainbow.”

With Ben Grossman

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