Mary Hart has signed a new multiyear contract to continue anchoring CBS Paramount Domestic Television’s top-rated entertainment magazine, Entertainment Tonight,after spending more than 24 years in the anchor chair.
The renewal puts to rest rumors that Hart, 55, a pioneer of the entertainment TV news genre, could meet the same fate as her onetime co-anchor, Bob Goen, who left the show in August 2004 after 11 years.
While the official reason given for Goen’s departure was that he wanted to spend more time with his new wife and pursue other projects, many assumed that his replacement, Mark Steines, represented a push by ET to reduce the average age of its audience. The program targets women 25-54.
But Roger King wasted little time in making the Hart announcement following his appointment two weeks ago as CEO of the newly merged CBS Television Distribution Group.
Hart is believed to be the highest-paid anchor on an entertainment newsmagazine, making somewhere at the low end of the mid-seven-figure range each year.
She is considered one of the pioneers of entertainment television, having joined the show as a correspondent on June 24, 1982, and becoming co-host less than two months later.
According to the syndicator, ET averages 7 million viewers per day in syndication and has held the top ratings position for nearly 1,300 consecutive weeks.
Executive Producer Linda Bell Blue, describing Hart as the "face of ET," called her the "driving force behind the continued success" of the show. Bell Blue went on to credit her with paving "the road of entertainment news."