The female contenders

BARRY CAME June 2 1997

The female contenders

BARRY CAME June 2 1997

The female contenders

Broadcasting

The identity of at least half of the team destined to succeed Peter Gzowski has been one of the worst-kept secrets at the CBC. Almost from the moment Gzowski signalled his intention to step aside this spring, there has only been one serious contender for the job as male co-host of the redesigned program that will replace Morningside this fall. And even though the CBC has yet to coax a signature onto a contract, when the new show debuts, the mellow voice of the man at the helm will belong to Michael Enright.

For the past decade, Enright, 54, has been winning a following—and awards— as host of the CBC’s highly rated evening show, As It Happens. In public, both the corporation and Enright himself have been coy about the state of the ongoing contractual negotiations. But Karen Levine,

Enright’s executive producer at As It Happens as well as his live-in companion and the mother of his two-year-old son, Gabriel, has already signed on with the new morning show. And CBC insiders report that Enright is close to initialling a three-year deal that would see the Toronto-born broadcaster, a fixture in Canadian journalism for more than three decades, step into Gzowski’s rather large shoes.

If Enright’s position is firm, however, the identity of his female co-host is not. The obvious candidate for the job, Gzowski’s frequent on-air partner Shelagh Rogers, is not in the running. Alex Frame, CBC Radio’s director of programming, called Rogers “a valued part” of the network, but declined to comment on her prospects for the new morning slot. One corporation source, however, said the brass “thinks Shelagh’s too Rosedale”—a reference to the uppercrust Toronto enclave.

With Rogers out of contention, CBC executives have winnowed a long list of candidates down to three leading contenders.

Tina Srebotnjak, 44, co-host of CBC-TV’s Midday, appears to be the favorite. But two others, Carol Off and Laurie Brown, are close behind. Both are regular contributors to CBC-TV’s flagship Magazine, which follows the nightly 10 p.m. National newscast. Off covers current affairs for the show, while Brown deals with the arts.

Other in-house names continue to circulate, including correspondent Elizabeth Palmer, based in Mexico City; Calgary’s Anne Petrie, host of Newsworld’s Early Edition-, Catherine O'Hara of Toronto’s drivehome program; and Karen Gordon, another Toronto-based CBC personality. Clearly uncertainty persists. Last week, managing editor of radio news Jeffrey Dvorkin, who helped develop Morningsidës replacement, said he was leaving for National Public Radio in Washington. But no matter who eventually winds up sharing the microphone with Enright, both face a daunting task in picking up Gzowski’s mantle during a time of great tumult at the CBC,

BARRY CAME