CBS Newsie Meredith Vieira, who left "60 Minutes" in spring to have her second child, will return to duty Feb. 23 as co-anchor of the "CBS Morning News," the network announced yesterday.
Vieira replaces newcomer Giselle Fernandez, a CBS staffer since October. She'll become a correspondent for Dan Rather's CBS Evening News, doing "Eye on America" segments. Vieira will also contribute pieces to "Eye."
Vieira, 38, was the only female correspondent on "60 Minutes" when she left after two years. (Boss Don Hewitt declined her request to continue working part time.) Her last original "60 Minutes" piece aired May 5. In the summer, she did a few segments of the short-lived news series "Verdict."
CBS insiders say Vieira wanted a New York gig that would keep her close to her family: Gabriel, born Aug. 2; Benjamin, 3, and husband Richard Cohen, a CNN producer.
As a tribute to outgoing host Johnny Carson, Elizabeth Taylor will make her first appearance on "The Tonight Show" Feb. 21.
La Liz is just one of many Hollywood biggies clamoring for face time before Carson leaves the NBC show in May. According to "Tonight" boss Fred de Cordova, he's been trying to book Taylor "since we started," in 1962.
Press-shy Barbra Streisand has also committed to a guest shot. Ditto for k.d. lang, Ray Charles and Harry Connick Jr. So have Bill Cosby, David Letterman, Jerry Seinfeld, Roseanne Arnold and Garry handling, all of whom credit Carson with giving them their first break.
No word on the format for Carson's "Tonight" finale, May 22.
Olympia Dukakis has been tabbed to play Frank Sinatra's mother, Dolly, on CBS's "Sinatra." The five-hour miniseries, honchoed by his daughter, Tina Sinatra, will air in the fall.
In his first interview since a grand jury indicted him on murder charges Feb. 3, Jack Kevorkian, the Michigan physician known as "Dr. Death," will talk with Barbara Walters tomorrow on ABC's "20/20." Peter Jennings will moderate ABC's Democratic presidential debate on March 5. The 90-minute event airs at 11:30 p.m. from Dallas.