Shelley Ross Axed at CBS’ Early Show, Rick Kaplan to Fill In

After less than six months as senior executive producer of CBS’ struggling Early Show, Shelley Ross is out of the job.

Rick Kaplan, executive producer of the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, will take over the show on an interim basis, CBS News president Sean McManus announced.

The news comes in the wake of mounting complaints from Ross’ staff on the third-place morning show and a troubling spate of resignations -- more than 20 -- according to CBS sources.

Ross addressed her staff after Monday’s show in an attempt to clear the air. But it was obviously too little, too late. She was absent from work for the remainder of the week, according to CBS sources.

Ross took over at Early Show in September, displacing senior executive producer Michael Bass and director of morning programs Steve Friedman, whose last day at CBS News came this week. (Friedman announced Thursday that he is teaming up with Nanci Ross, another former CBS News colleague, on Vir2L Media, a new-media production and consulting company.)

Co-anchor Hannah Storm left Early Show in December. In January, the program was relaunched with a new set, graphics package and anchor as Maggie Rodriguez officially joined the show. The January overhaul also jettisoned a long-standing affiliate agreement that allowed 43 stations encompassing about 23% of the country to insert local content into the first hour of the show.

Ross came to CBS News after a long tenure at ABC News, where she steered Primetime and then Good Morning America out of the ratings doldrums. She left ABC News in 2006 after a raft of human-resources complaints there, according to ABC News sources.

McManus said of Ross when he hired her: “Shelley has not only fought the fight in morning news, but, most important, she has achieved success. She has an amazing understanding of the morning audience and the unique genre that is morning news.”