Gumbel Leaves 'Early Show'

Bryant Gumbel is leaving the The Early Show after anchoring the CBS morning broadcast for two and a half years.

Gumbel says it's time for him to move on and do something else. He didn't say what he'll be doing.

CBS hoped Gumbel would help The Early Show get out of third place in the ratings. Gumbel says while he's "naturally disappointed" that the show didn't do better in the ratings, he's "pleased with the quality" of the program.

Although the show has gained viewers, it still ranks third in the ratings, behind NBC's "Today" and ABC's "Good Morning America".

"Simply put, Bryant has put us on the map in the morning," CBS News President Andrew Heyward said. "His professionalism, his extraordinary versatility and his enormous skills as a live interviewer have been invaluable to the development of The Early Show."

"While I am naturally disappointed that the show didn't fare better in the ratings, I am pleased with the quality of the broadcast we created," said Gumbel.

Gumbel will work with his bosses to set a date for his final broadcast.

The show never climbed from third place in the competitive morning news race against first-place "Today" and ABC's "Good Morning America." Yet after many years of floundering, The Early Show has become profitable for CBS and will continue after Gumbel's departure.

CBS signed Gumbel to a five-year, $5 million annual contract in 1997 - a relative bargain in inflationary times in the TV business. Gumbel's former partner, "Today's" Katie Couric, makes three times as much.

Gumbel was host of a newsmagazine, Public Eye, that was canceled for poor ratings before he started again with The Early Show.

The 53-year-old recently went through a messy divorce and is engaged to marry Hilary Quinlan, a former research analyst at Goldman Sachs.

"As I prepare to begin a new chapter in my personal life, it makes sense to me to turn the page on my professional life as well," he said.

Gumbel, who is also host of "Real Sports" on HBO, didn't detail his other plans.