Extra, Venus make moves

Leeza Gibbons is going back into the newsmagazine business and Cybill Shepherd is going to try her hand in first-run syndication.

Gibbons, whose talk show Leeza just wrapped after six seasons (five on NBC and the last in syndication), has been named the new host of Telepictures' Extra. Gibbons will replace Maureen O'Boyle, who is stepping down after three years.

Gibbons, who will also serve as executive producer on Extra through her production company Leeza Gibbons Enterprises, was an anchor/reporter on Entertainment Tonight for more than 10 years and worked in local news earlier in her TV career.

In the just-completed May sweeps, Extra averaged a 3.3 national rating, down 8% from May 1999, according to Nielsen Media Research. For the 1999-2000 season, Extra averaged a 3.5 rating, down from the prior season's 3.8.

Shepherd, the former star of her own prime time sitcom and co-star of Moonlighting, has been cast as the new host of Columbia TriStar Television Distribution's upcoming first-run series Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. Lost in space is Eleanor Mondale, who was introduced at NATPE as the show's initial host, but quickly rumored to be out.

Men Are From Mars, which is a one-hour daily show based on the best-selling book of the same name, will pit men against women in a format similar to Politically Incorrect. The series debuts this fall.