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Don DuPree exiting WBBM-Channel 2 for Eberts' new movie review show

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Assistant news director Don DuPree is leaving CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2 to work as director of Roger and Chaz Ebert's upcoming movie review TV show "Roger Ebert Presents At the Movies," slated to debut Jan, 21, 2011 on PBS stations nationwide. DuPree had been at WBBM since August of 2009.

DuPree's departure marks the second high-level executive to exit WBBM in just a matter of weeks. Top marketing honcho Jim Corboy also recently departed when his position was eliminated. A WBBM spokeswoman said DuPree will be replaced.

DuPree's involvement with the Eberts' new movie review show is something of a homecoming. "Roger called and said it was time for me to come over and take control of the family farm," said DuPree.

For more than 15 years, DuPree worked as director and executive producer on a couple of iterations of Roger Ebert's original movie review show that first paired the Sun-Times movie critic with the late Gene Siskel, a longtime movie critic at the Chicago Tribune. Sun-Times columnist Richard Roeper eventually became Ebert's permanent co-critic on the TV show after Siskel's death. Previous to his first stint working with Ebert on the movie review show, DuPree was an executive producer on NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5's late newscast.

DuPree arrived at WBBM last year as a key player in news director Jeff Kiernan's push to clearly differentiate Channel 2's news product from that of its competitors. Kiernan saw in DuPree's varied background some skills that he believed could help give WBBM the fresh look Kiernan was after.

But not everything worked out for the best during DuPree's stint at WBBM. DuPree was part of the team that worked on the ill-fated and highly unconventional early morning show "Monsters & Money in the Morning," that focused on sports and business topics. The show lasted all of seven months before the plug was pulled in late August. "I think it was a great try, but I'm sorry the results weren't better," said DuPree. He is leaving WBBM while the jury is still out on whether the new anchor talent at WBBM, including veterans Walter Jacobson and Bill Kurtis and newcomer Kate Sullivan, will help lift the station in the all-important Nielsen television rankings.

In the most recent September Nielsen rating book, WBBM was still in third place among the three stations with 10 p.m. newscasts.

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I hope everything works out well for Kate Sullivan. I miss watching her on the early morning news on CBS in New York. Good Luck Ms. Sullivan.

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Lewis Lazare has written the Media Mix column for the Chicago Sun-Times for the past seven and a half years.

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