Ms. Hart, who's worked in TV and radio for more than three decades, has been the face of "ET" for 24 of its 25 years. During that time, she's seen the environment change-the market is now flooded with celebrity gossip and news. T.L. Stanley, Advertising Age's Los Angeles bureau chief, spoke with Ms. Hart about "ET" then and now. Below is an edited transcript.
ADVERTISING AGE: What was it like in the early days of "Entertainment Tonight" before legions of competitors came onto the scene?
MARY HART: First of all, people said, "This show will never last." We had critics saying it was just a fluffy program, but they were comparing us with traditional evening newscasts because there was no one else doing what we were doing. ... At the same time, those first few years we were basking in the wonderful void in the marketplace. It was a great luxury.
AA: Since "ET" follows lots of stars at the young end of the spectrum-Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Lindsay Lohan, Jessica Simpson-how do you think the longtime fans feel about that?
MS. HART: People aren't alienated by coverage of young Hollywood, but we do a mix of younger and older stars, like Carol Burnett, who just did a guest role on "Desperate Housewives."
AA: When do we reach a saturation point with celebrity coverage?
MS. HART: I wondered that years ago, but it seems that we haven't gotten there yet. That may be mortifying to some, but it's gratifying to us. Our ratings are holding up extremely well. That's what tells me we're not oversaturated yet.