Lauren Jones: “Anchorwoman” star becomes anchorwoman

What do you get when you drop the former Miss New York, also known as “America’s sexiest bikini model,” into a struggling TV newscast in the unrated market of Tyler, Texas?

You get Fox’s next reality series – “Anchorwoman.”

Lauren Jones, whose career credits also include serving as a “World Wrestling Diva,” a soap star and one of Bob Barker’s beauties on “The Price Is Right,” is playing a new role right now – anchorwoman on KYTX-TV, a local CBS affiliate in Tyler.

But it’s not a real job or a permanent journalism position. It’s part of a Fox Entertainment gimmick – laying the groundwork for the reality series debuting nationally Aug. 21.

Lauren Jones

However, to make it even more interesting – and confusing – this is no joke to Jones. She says she has always wanted to be a broadcaster, her role models being Oprah Winfrey and Katie Couric.

She may also be the only person working at KYTV who has a “consultant,” Carole Propp. Propp contacted WND yesterday trying to line up an interview with columnist Pat Buchanan for her final show of the season on the Fox Network.

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Needless to say, Jones’ time at KYTV has initiated new debates about the credibility of journalism, especially broadcast news, as well and the blurring lines between news and entertainment in TV.

So what is she going to interview Buchanan about?

Not illegal immigration. Not the death of the West. Not the war in Iraq. She wants to interview the commentator about what he thinks of Fox’s stunt – as well as his “general thoughts on the news of the day.”

As for KYTX President and General Manager Phil Hurley, he’s not having any qualms or ethical dilemmas over the presence of Jones in his newsroom. He explains he placed her in the “laboratory” of the 5 p.m. broadcast rather than the more serious 6 p.m. or 10 p.m. slots.

How is the rest of the KYTX staff handling the visit from Jones? Some are looking forward to additional paychecks from Fox when the series airs. This may have softened any blow to their egos involved in working alongside the model in the “laboratory” of the 5 p.m. news show.

“Anchorwoman” is the brainchild of its creator and executive producer, Brian Gadinsky, who has played similar roles with “American Idol,” “Mr. Personality,” and “America’s Most Wanted.”

Here’s how Fox explains the whole concept of “Anchorwoman”: “Phil Hurley is the owner of a middle-market Texas news station, KYTX Channel 19. Desperate to turn the tide of his news rating woes and compete with the longtime ratings giant, Phil has shocked the station and town of Tyler, Texas, by bringing in a gorgeous model and ex-WWE diva with no previous news experience to be his next anchorwoman – all in hopes of reinventing the look of Channel 19 and overhauling its below-average 6 share to a number more like his competitor’s 36.

“Former Miss New York and ?ber-vixen Lauren Jones packs up her Versace dresses and heads to Tyler, Texas, to start a new career. Can this bombshell make it as a serious reporter? Will she save KYTX, or make it the laughingstock of the Lone Star State? Lauren wants to show everyone she’s no airhead, and this is her big chance to prove she’s more than just a pretty face.

“The entire newsroom thinks the boss has made a giant mistake. Reigning anchor Annalisa Petraglia is not about to lose her queen bee status to some L.A. hottie. News director Dan Delgado is fit to be tied as his beloved journalistic standards go out the window. Michele Reese, a hard-nosed reporter bound for CNN, will take no prisoners. Lauren has a big job in front of her as she struggles with her news team and an unfamiliar town.

“How will it all turn out? Only the ratings will tell, so stay tuned for the next “Anchorwoman”: Lauren Jones.”

Courtney Friel

Hurley confirms the hype, saying some of his employees were apprehensive about the reality show at first, but after seeing the publicity, “they realized that it could help their own careers.”

As WND reported, bikinis and newscasting seem to go together at Fox. Fox News Channel, frequently criticized for focusing on glitz and sex, hired another swimsuit model and host of “World Poker Tour” as a substitute anchor and host of “Fox & Friends Weekend.” In February, it hired Courtney Friel who quickly pulled swimsuit photos from her website to mute concerns about her credibility and journalistic professionalism.

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