'Entertainment Tonight' producer Linda Bell Blue steps down

Television entertainment news maven Linda Bell Blue is stepping down as executive producer of "Entertainment Tonight" after 19 years.

The well-respected and feisty producer helped build the syndicated news magazine show, owned by CBS Television Distribution, into a cultural and financial juggernaut.

At its peak, "Entertainment Tonight," was one of the most lucrative properties in the CBS portfolio, garnering more than $100 million a year in profit. Celebrities would line up to be featured on the gossipy show.

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But daily TV news magazines, much like daily print publications, have been forced to respond to the immediacy of the Internet. Now, to make news, celebrities post comments on their Twitter feeds and other social media rather than have their publicists wrangle interviews with TV shows, such as "Entertainment Tonight," Warner Bros.' "Extra" or NBCUniversal's "Access Hollywood."

The CBS show, known in industry circles as "ET," remains the No. 1 syndicated celebrity news program. This season, the show has been drawing an average of 5.3 million viewers an installment. Its ratings during the last three years have been stable amid a gradual audience erosion for the genre.

"ET" has been the No. 1 entertainment news magazine show for 903 weeks, CBS said.

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CBS on Tuesday named D.J. Petroro and Linda Fuller as the new executive producers of the show.

Fuller and Petroro are veteran producers of the show, which is produced in Studio City.

Fuller joined "ET" in 1989 as an associate director and steadily moved up the ranks. Petroro went to work for CBS Television Distribution nearly a decade ago, and helped launch "The Insider," a companion program to "ET." After several years at that show, Petroro transitioned to "ET" in September 2012. 

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Before joining CBS, Petroro was a supervising producer for rival "Access Hollywood."

CBS Television Distribution said it had entered into a multi-year deal with Bell Blue, and that she would transition into a new position as president of a newly formed unit called Entertainment Tonight Studios.

Bell Blue will be charged with creating "ET"-branded shows for cable television, including TVGN (which CBS co-owns with Lionsgate Entertainment), broadcast outlets and digital platforms.

“We have created Entertainment Tonight Studios to serve the unending thirst for pop-culture-themed content and to continue to expand the stellar ET brand," Armando Nuñez, president and chief executive of the CBS Global Distribution Group, said in a statement. 


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