Lara Spencer, who has co-anchored CBS's The Insider from New York City since the show's launch, has signed a multi-year deal to take over as the show's anchor this fall, says Linda Bell Blue, executive producer of both Entertainment Tonight and The Insider.
At this point, Spencer will host the show on her own, marking the first time either ET or The Insider has gone with a single anchor— male or female—since each of the shows began. ET premiered in 1981 and The Insider in 2004.
Spencer will relocating to Los Angeles from New York. Pat O'Brien, who left the show temporarily in February to return to rehab, will continue as a Los Angeles-based correspondent, along with Victoria Recano and Steven Cojocaru. It's uncertain if Donny Osmond, who has been a special correspondent since last March, will appear this fall. It depends on his schedule and the show's needs. The Insider will maintain a New York staff.
“I am thrilled to continue working with the best team in the entertainment business,” said Spencer in a statement. “I have been New York-based my entire career, so to live and work in Los Angeles, the heart of the entertainment industry, side by side with the incredible team at The Insider and Entertainment Tonight will be amazing.”
Spencer moves to Los Angeles just as both The Insider and ET convert to high-definition at their brand-new studios at CBS Studio Center.
“Lara's tremendous talent and dedication is evident in the production of our show day in and day out,” said Bell Blue in a statement. “We are once again making history by being the first entertainment newsmagazines to move into HD. Lara is essential to the exciting future of the show.”
Parts of The Insider's new set were built specifically for Spencer. The set was created by Steve Bass, who also designs the sets for the Emmys and the Grammys.
“It's an incredible show-stopping set that will set the bar for all other magazine shows,” says Dan Henry, executive in charge of production for The Insider and ET. “It's going to be something to behold. There are lots of bells and whistles—lighting, displays—that will enhance the overall experience for the viewer.”
Henry says, “We're going to have several 103-inch HD plasma screens on the set, and an array of LED technology that's usually used in rock-and-roll tours or music videos.
“It's a very versatile set we're building,” he continued. “It allows us to have a nice sit-down area to talk to guests, as well as a traditional standup area. It's very modern-looking.”
Prior to joining The Insider, Spencer was a national correspondent for ABC's Good Morning America and a host of PBS's Antiques Roadshow. She began her career at WDEF-TV in Chattanooga, Tenn., then moved to Cablevision's News 12, in Long Island, and then to WABC-TV in New York.
Spencer has hosted two primetime specials on CBS: Red Carpet Confidential, revealing beauty and style secrets of the stars, and An Entertainment Tonight Event: Celebrity Weddings Unveiled, a behind-the-scenes look at Hollywood's most lavish celebrity weddings.
She is married to David Haffenreffer, formerly an anchor on the defunct CNNfn They have two children.
Closing out its fourth season, The Insider averaged a 2.1 live-plus-same-day household rating in the May sweeps, tying NBC Universal's Access Hollywood as the fourth-highest-rated magazine. Both shows were down 16% year to year. ET remains the top-rated magazine, ending May sweeps with a 4.3, down 14% compared to last May.