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CNN Headline News Undergoes Big Changes

Updated:
NEW YORK (AP) _ For a network that has built its reputation on predictability, CNN Headline News is undergoing some dramatic changes on Monday.

The network will debut a new prime-time lineup that dispenses with its usual continuous ``wheel'' of news. Like all-news radio stations, Headline News has run half-hour newscasts throughout the day and evening for its entire 23-year history.

The new lineup includes an hour-long entertainment program, a legal talk show with Nancy Grace as host and an hour-long newscast at 9 p.m.

``By the time you get to prime-time in this day and age, most people are aware of the headlines of the day and want some different, distinctive programming,'' said Ken Jautz, executive vice president of the CNN News Group.

Translation: Headline News' ratings sag during the evening. But the network is pleased with daytime ratings, and that format is remaining the same.

Grace's show, at 8 p.m. ET, is the highest-profile launch. The former prosecutor is a frequent substitute for Larry King on CNN, and the new schedule allows her to continue this and not compete with King.

Karyn Bryant and A.J. Hammer are the hosts of ``Showbiz Tonight'' at 7 p.m. ET, the hour many of the syndicated entertainment programs air. They'll focus on Academy Award coverage this week and have interviews with the casts of ``24'' and ``Lost.''

Following Grace will be a traditional newscast, with Mike Galanos and Erica Hill. The timing is designed to not compete with newscasts on CNN, Jautz said.

CNN Headline News is also revamping its onscreen look. A few years ago, the network instituted a graphics-heavy format with several different elements, designed to appeal to computer-savvy viewers. The network is stepping back, making pictures the dominant element on the screen.
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