Monday, May 12, 2003

Pauley's final 'Dateline' celebrates career

By Frazier Moore
The Associated Press

When she began the Today show as its 25-year-old co-host, Jane Pauley was described by one reporter as looking "like what she once was: A smart sorority girl from Indiana, pretty enough to gain acceptance among the men, but not striking enough to rattle the women in the morning hours of pin curls and frog face."

For all this, according to another story, she earned an annual salary "around $70,000."

That was in October 1976. Pauley stayed at Today until 1989 with, presumably, more than one nice raise.

Then in March 1992, she premiered with Dateline NBC - which she helped usher into a success after the network had flopped with at least 17 prior newsmagazines.

After a remarkable stay at NBC, Pauley, now 52, makes her final Dateline appearance Tuesday (10 p.m., Channels 5, 22) before taking off for as-yet-unannounced new ventures.

The show features Pauley's last interview - with Michael J. Fox and his wife, Tracey Pollan.

The balance of the hour looks back on Pauley's NBC years, including remembrances from Tom Brokaw (her former Today colleague), Stone Phillips (her Dateline co-anchor since the beginning), Barbara Walters (a Today predecessor), and former Today cronies Bryant Gumbel, Gene Shalit and Willard Scott, as well as interviews with celebrities who have talked to Pauley over the years, including Bill Cosby, Bill Murray, Cher and Garth Brooks.

There are also career highlights, including her first Today on Oct. 11, 1976.

"I don't want to peak too early," Pauley told a reporter shortly after that debut, wary of having gone too far too fast. It may be that, 27 years later and now ready for new challenges, she still hasn't.

Vester unplugged: Milford native Linda Vester steps away from the anchor desk after seven years to host Fox News Channel's first daytime talk show.

The 1983 Ursuline Academy graduate debuts Day Side with Linda Vester at 1 p.m. today from a new $29-million studio at Fox News headquarters in New York.

Fox News President Roger Ailes asked Vester a year ago if she'd like to host a daytime talk show.

"Never in my life had I thought for a second about doing something like this," says Vester, who has been the 1-3 p.m. weekday news anchor since joining Fox in 1999 from MSNBC.

Fox is venturing into daytime talk just two months after CNN canceled TalkBack Live, a two-hour show hosted by Arthel Neville in Atlanta.

Unlike TalkBack Live, the Fox show will only be one-hour, and it will have a mix of breaking news and other prepared topics, says Vester, who has talked to Neville about her frustrations with the CNN format.

"Her show was thrown together every day. The difference is that we'll have smarter, better interaction and better planning and preparation," says the former NBC News at Sunrise (1996-98) anchor.

Starting today, she will only be seen on Fox News Channel an hour each day.

"You can't sustain a talk format for longer than an hour," she says.

More Oprah?: Wire reports say Oprah Winfrey has changed her mind about retiring from daytime TV in 2006, and instead may continue through the spring of 2008.

TV today: Everybody hated Robert's bachelor party so Ray (Ray Romano) must throw a second one on Everybody Loves Raymond (9 p.m., Channels 12, 7).

Sen. John McCain hosts a one-hour documentary about Arlington National Cemetery (9 p.m., Travel Channel).

Dr. Brown (Treat Williams) considers performing another risky surgery on Colin (Mike Erwin) in the season finale of Everwood (9 p.m., Channels 64, 26).

Nicole Kidman, Halle Berry and Sandra Bullock provide insights into Hollywood's leading female directors, producers and writers in Women on Top: Hollywood and Power (10 p.m., American Movie Classics).

TV's newest reality stars are the Surf Girls, 14 young women competing in professional surfing competition (10:30 p.m., MTV).

Talk shows: Today's guests:

Wayne Brady (10 a.m., Channel 9): Ryan Seacrest, Donald Faison, Tori Amos, Yoko Ono.

Caroline Rhea (3 p.m., Channel 19): Beau Bridges, Kelly Clarkson.

Late Show (11:35 p.m., Channels 12, 7): Stupid Pet Tricks, Survivor: The Amazon winner.

Tonight Show (11:35 p.m., Channels 5, 22): Katie Couric (host), Mike Myers, Simon Cowell, Robbie Williams.

Jimmy Kimmell Live (12:05 a.m., Channels 9, 2): Ali Landry, Marlon Wayans, Time Lapse Consortium.

Late Night (12:35 a.m., Channels 5, 22): Christopher Walken, Laura Prepon, Nada Surf.

Late Late Show (12:35 a.m., Channels 12, 7): Carl Reiner, Kelly Clarkson.

John Kiesewetter and TV Data contributed to this report.

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