Bad TV Partnerships

Parker Spitzer is over. VIEW OUR GALLERY of more ill-fated TV pairings, from Hannity and Colmes to Seacrest and Dunkleman.

AP Photo; CNN


From Sept. 11, 2001, to Nov. 7, 2005, NewsNight With Aaron Brown ran in the prime-time slot on CNN. However, following rising star Anderson Cooper's noteworthy coverage of Hurricane Katrina, CNN execs decided to let Cooper share co-anchoring duties with Brown. Critics were initially skeptical of the addition, criticizing the show for its new "cute and unnecessary elements." After just a month on the job—which saw plenty of awkwardness between the two hosts— Brown was gone, and replaced by Cooper. Cooper went on to become the face of CNN, while Brown was basically held hostage, since he was still under contract with CNN until July 2007. He ended up teaching, spending a semester as the John J. Rhodes Chair in Public Policy and American Institutions at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, and hitting the links. "There's nothing like getting paid—it's even better to get paid and not go to work," said Brown in 2007. He added, "I was very uncomfortable at the end with where they wanted it to go. I didn't think the viewers were behind me when we did dumb television."

AP Photo


When the young Deborah Norville joined Bryant Gumbel and Jane Pauley on NBC's Today, gossip columnists speculated she was vying for Pauley's seat, and referred to Norville as "the other woman" and a "homewrecker" for challenging her co-anchors' partnership. Then, when NBC moved Pauley to primetime and gave Norville her seat, Today received torrents of negative press focused on Norville's perceived ladder-climbing and lack of chemistry with Gumbel. Norville's role was quickly minimized and, in 1991, just over a year into her contract, she was replaced by Katie Couric. "Katie is now a permanent fixture up here, a member of our family, an especially welcome one," Gumbel said the day he announced the replacement. "Deborah Norville is not." Nearly a decade later, Norville wrote a self-help book that juxtaposed her TV downfall and recovery—and her Park Avenue lifestyle, with a cook and a nanny—with stories of women who had overcome rape and suicide attempts.

Kathy Willens / AP Photo


After Peter Jennings' death in 2005, Woodruff and Vargas took over the network's flagship newscast, World News Tonight. But the partnership was quickly upended when, less than a month into his anchorship, Woodruff and a cameramen were gravely injured by a roadside bomb while reporting in Iraq. Vargas pressed on, anchoring the show alone and becoming the de facto first female news anchor to handle a show by herself. ABC later asked Charlie Gibson, whom they'd wanted in the chair in the first place, to fill in. "I was doing it before. They gave the job to Bob and Elizabeth," he said. "Then back you come. I can see the viewer might be a bit confused about what's going on. But you just do it." No sooner had Gibson joined the show than Vargas resigned, citing her difficult pregnancy. But most inside sources say Gibson threatened to quit if ABC didn't make him the show's sole anchor.