Channel 5's news operation has had better months. Already in November, there have been reports that Lynette Romero and Marta Waller are out as co-anchors and KTLA got flack over assistant news director Marcia Brandwynne donating to John Kerry's campaign, Sam Rubin's suspension for dishing the new "Morning News" set and Zorianna Kit's performance as his stand-in. In Monday's Times, KTLA takes more hits for its promotion—cooked up for November sweeps by the station's "creative services" department—to use a televised contest to fill the vacant spot of weathercaster on the evening "News at Ten." Like a reality show, candidates on The Audition (no news, weather or TV experience required) are filmed prepping backstage and analyzing their rivals.
Screenwriting instructor Linda Voorhees said she was shocked after watching "The Audition." "I don't even know how to voice what went on in the pit of my stomach when I saw it," said Voorhees, a visiting assistant professor at UCLA's School of Theater, Film and Television. "How can you expect a news audience to have an essential belief in your organization as you deliver the news when you turn it into a reality-TV show?"
In the story, KTLA observer Ron Fineman calls the contest "an embarrassment to journalism." But KTLA news director Jeff Wald says the winner of the 30-day contract (to be decided this week on the "KTLA Morning News") will be trained before going on the air. Mark Kriski, who hosts The Audition segment, says no one should be surprised that TV doesn't care about qualifications: "I have one word for you — Jillian," he said, meaning Jillian Barberie, rival KTTV's morning weathercaster (pictured in FHM). Meanwhile, channel 11's "Good Day Live" has its own search for a "true New Yorker" to join the show as a guest correspondent and KMEX let viewers select weekend weather anchor Gisela Teissier.