NEW YORK -- NBC News is revamping its programming from sunrise to sunset, changing names, juggling players and even redecorating a set, in an all-out assault on some problems that NBC chief Grant Tinker says go back a long way.
Yes, the news magazine 'Monitor' with Lloyd Dobyns will be around next season. NBC News likes it so well it's putting it right up against CBS' ever-popular '60 Minutes' at 7-8 p.m. ET Sundays.
But it might take the untrained eye some time to realize what it's watching.
Besides the new time slot, the show will have a new set, new theme music and even a new name -- 'First Camera' -- when it premieres Sept. 18, NBC News President Reuven Frank announced Wednesday.
'The title change caps a summer-long process of changing the look, the sound and the feel of the program, adding to its production staff and restructuring its approach,' Frank said.
Dobyns will continue as anchor and principal writer and Rebecca Sobel and Steve Delaney as staff reporters.
But 'we have added a fulltime, investigative reporting team and will call on the good help of some of the better known NBC news correspondents like Marvin Kalb, Jack Reynolds and Ken Bode,' said executive producer Sy Pearlman.
The investigative unit will be headed by correspondent Mark Nykanen and producer Chuck Collins.
Among the stories scheduled for the new season are a report by Nykanen on how safe travelers are on the road and inside hotel and motel rooms across America and a profile by Ms. Sobel on a cache of Brazilian arms, which is reputed to be the largest in the world.
The new set will be 'denlike' in appearance, a radical departure from the old 'Monitor' digs. There will be bookshelves, a rug, and a desk with a word-processer like the kind Dobyns uses at home and in office, NBC News said.
'To date, the program has gathered a loyal following and we hope 'First Camera' intends to build on that in its new and challenging time period,' Pearlman said.
In the past season, 'Monitor' ran against ABC's popular 'Fantasy Island' Saturday nights at 10.
Besides 'Monitor,' NBC News announced on July 26 that Roger Mudd was being dropped as the Washington-based co-anchor of 'NBC Nightly News' effective Sept. 5, leaving New York-based Tom Brokaw as sole anchor.
The network also has made changes in its early news programming.
Since Aug. 1, veteran-CBS newswoman Connie Chung has been anchoring NBC's morning news show -- the name was changed from 'Early Today' to 'News at Sunrise' -- as well as 'NBC Nightly News' on Saturdays.
Rumor has it that she also is being groomed to replace Jane Pauley or Bryant Gumbel on the 'Today' show, which has lost its first place standing to ABC's 'Good Morning America' and now is being threatened by CBS' 'Morning News.'
Tinker said during his network's Fall previews that NBC had problems throughout its schedule, particularly in the areas of news and daytime programming.
The NBC chairman of the board said everyone at the network was paying attention to the problems in the news division, which he said went 'back a long time and they may be a little while in the fixing.'
He also emphasized that NBC News President Reuven Frank and Executive Vice President Tom Pettit did not create the problems, but 'inherited them.'