ShowBiz/14"/mike1st/mark2nd

FRANK SWERTLOW

The abrupt exit of Warner Bros. co-chairmen Bob Daly and Terry Semel has sent Hollywood rumormongers buzzing about their replacement. One executive frequently mentioned was CBS TV President Les Moonves but he took himself out of play last week by signing a long-term contract with CBS.

"I am happy at CBS," said Moonves, whose contract at the network would have ended early next year.

Asked if he was approached for the Warner Bros. job, Moonves, a former president of Warner Bros. Television, was mum. "I am not going to talk about that," he said.

A Warner Bros. insider doubted whether the successor would be an outsider. "Right now we are focusing on people within the company and people who have worked for the company," the source said.

Now that Moonves is out of the picture, the focus could shift to Barry Meyer, executive vice president and COO of Warner Bros. Television, according to a well-placed source.

There is precedent for Warner Bros. to turn to an experienced TV executive. Daly ran CBS until he jumped to the movie studio. Other TV executives also have made the transition from small screen to big, most notably Michael Eisner and Barry Diller, both of whom worked at ABC before moving to Paramount.

CBS Stations Division President John Severino nearly lost his life on Mulholland Drive when an oncoming driver forced his Jaguar off the road. Severino's car flipped over on its top and the air bags engaged. The TV executive escaped with a chipped bone in his left arm, which is in a cast.

Severino, who made KABC-TV Channel 7 the dominant TV station in Los Angeles during the '80s, said he will try wooing Tom Snyder, the former KNBC-TV Channel 4 anchorman, out of retirement. Another former KNBC anchor who might get a call is Kelly Lange. One performer who won't is Roseanne, whose talk show is produced by King World Productions Inc., a CBS-owned company. The NBC station group announced it would no longer carry the show, despite having one more year to go on its contract. Severino said he has no interest in picking up Roseanne's show for the 16 stations CBS owns. This crippling blow means the comedian may have no outlet in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York the nation's three top markets unless independent stations show an interest. It also means that the show will now have more trouble attracting big-name guests.

The mainstream media's attempt to romance more Latino viewers continues. CBS has signed a deal with Ricky Martin to headline his first TV special. No date for the one-hour concert was set, but it is expected to roll sometime later this year. Martin's single, "Livin' La Vida Loca" was a smash hit here and abroad. Two years ago, the nation's TV critics voted at their annual convention in Pasadena to do away with receiving gifts from the TV networks and cable channels. Aside from T-shirts and coffee mugs, out-of-town critics had been receiving cell phones, pagers and suitcases. No more swag, cried the scribes. Alas, many TV writers miss their loot and there is a movement afoot to bring back the booty. One reason, several critics say, is they no longer can auction off their Hollywood memorabilia for their local charities.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.